I use different products for different pieces of tack! For general purposes, will start with a clean off (stubben saddle soap or glycerine soap), bring it to a lather, rinse off with a clean sponge and warm clean water (for glycerine soap) or let dry then buff if the stubben soap was used. Condition with either neatsfoot oil or black country lederbalsam (smells good!) or if it needs some major conditioning, leather therapy conditioner.
When cleaning my boots (blundstones/dubarry's, not my tall boots) I use the leather therapy products (wash, conditioner, water-proofing, and leather finish).
I generally enjoy doing a tack cleaning, but will set aside an evening and do a complete overhaul of everything in one night to get it all done at once. Toss on a good movie or favourite season of a show and I'm set for the night
For the time consuming clean I follow a saddle fitters advise and celan with water, washcloth and condition with glycerin (bar)
get clean washcloth, dunk in water wring all water out, wipe down tack and clean dirt off. Then rinse cloth, wring all water out, rub cloth over glycerin bar, and polish tack with that. Leave a very slight patina. If there are any suds in the cloth you have too much water, rinse and start over with a dryer cloth. That very very thin layer of glycerin will condition the tack, and keep it water proof. So the next time you use the tack all you have to do is wipe down with damp cloth.
But to be quick about it I will just use damp cloth and pass it over the glycerin barn and wipe down the tack everyday. Again if I see any sudsing I know that i have too much water...
I love Leather Therapy. I do wipe my tack down everytime I ride and then clean and condition when it needs it.
I do tack cleaning as a little side business. Mostly I do my instructor's tack when it needs a good in depth cleaning. Her tack is wiped down after every use, so it is never built up with lots of crud.
First, I disassemble all parts of the tack. I mark down on a piece of paper where the cheek pieces, cavesson, etc go so it is put together exactly where it was left.
Then I clean thoroughly with Leather Therapy. I use the blade of a penknife *very lightly* on the underside of the tack to remove some of the built up gunk that tends to accumulate. I wipe the excess gunk off on a towel. I go over this very carefully so as not to ruin the leather. Next, I use a dental pick to go over the stitching-another place where gunk tends to accumulate.
When all the leather is cleaned, I used Passier Lederbalsam. I rub it in with my hands because the warmth helps it to penetrate the leather. If the leather doesn't need a deep conditioning, I also like Belvoir tack conditioner. Most of the time it's Lederbalsam though.
Next I use Simichrome metal polish on all metal pieces except bits. I use a battery operated electric toothbrush to scrub the metal. Then I use a towel to wipe down the metal. The secret is not the scrubbing as much as it is to keep wiping down the metal until it no longer leaves a residue on the towel. Brass comes out gleaming when you do it this way. I've tried many metal polishes and prefer the Simichrome. It is a paste, which is why I condition the leather before I clean the metal. That way, if any gets on the leather, it still has the conditioner to protect it.
Finally, I wipe off the leather to remove the excess conditioner. I love the soft glow that the conditioner imparts and the feel of clean and supple tack.
If the tack has lots of gunk on it from not being cleaned regularly, it is much more difficult to remove. I just keep doing the first step until I get down to the leather through all the gunk. I have heard of some people using Dawn and I have tried that also.
If the tack is particularly dry, I leave the conditioner on overnight.
When I borrowed my friend's saddle I use Bick leather cleaner and conditioner and it seems to work just fine (she had no complaints). For my tall boots (mountain horse) when they're noticeably dirty (either miss mare's sweating a lot or wet mud/sand) I wipe them down with a damp soft towel and then apply/buff Fiebing's boot creme. It was recommended at Dover when I bought my boots and so far after each cleaning they look as shiny and clean as the first day I got them.
I never let my tack get filthy dirty – After a super sweaty or muddy ride, tack get immediately wiped clean with a damp rag. Which means I never have to do MAJOR cleaning.
Tack gets wiped with a barely damp rag after each ride.
Glycerin bar soap wipe down about once a week (no foam, lots of soap, little water).
Conditioning about once a month. Olive oil, lexol conditioner or Lederbalsam depending on the particular piece of tack / amount of conditioning needed.
New tack gets conditioned well (usually olive oil, sometimes Lederbalsam), and “sealed” with glycerin. This method has been working well for me for many years. I still have tack that was purchased in 1988 that is still in good, supple, usable condition. The reins I use daily (plaited, 1” wide, and rolled) are most likely from the 1970’s – and are soft, strong, and stitching is tight.
Fun thread- in my current kit, I have Castile soap, glycerin soap, lexol, kocholine, hydrophane, toothbrush, toothpicks, never dull, and something German in a brown container (it's a leather conditioner). The tack store lady told me to she rubbed it into her skin like lotion and it was a great conditioer. well I read the label (no English, just French, German, Spanish) and it was soap. She couldn't believe it.
Pony club used to flog me with my dirt tack. I have scars.
And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."
After every ride, and particularly if it's dusty or muddy, I wipe off my saddle with a damp cloth, or with a little Effax Leder Combi, and rinse off the bit.
Once a week I do a deep clean of everything with the Leder Combi and I condition the saddle (bridles and breastplates less frequently) with a thin coating of Belvoir Leather Balsam. The girth is neoprene and gets rinsed off with warm water (and scrubbed with a brush) under the tap. Girth and bridle get dried off with a towel.
I'd like to do a better job of keeping my tall boots cleaned on a day to day basis. They get muddy a lot because I will walk through mud if I have to in order to ride outside. I try to hose off the dry mud a couple times a week. There is too much mud to just wipe them off, especially in spring and fall.
I hear it's not good putting saddle soap or other cleaning stuff on boots so I tend just to leave them alone, unless I'm getting ready to show. Then, I'll get out the paste wax, panty hose and soft brush and go to town getting them shiny.
I'd like to hear some of your routines for routine boot cleaning.
it smells great and is easy to use, my tack is supple but not sticky or gooey. I just use a damp sponge and the saddle soap. I tend to keep my tack clean so that I don't go through a big ordeal before a show!
My saddles are all Stubbens (well, with the exception of the lesson Wintec for my mare...it gets wiped down with a wet rag) so I use Hammanol on them the majority of the time and mink oil every now and again. I ride outside foxhunting and endurance in whatever weather in my saddles so I like to waterproof them with the mink oil a few times a year. The combination of the two seems to keep them looking new. In between conditionings, I just wipe them down with a slightly damp rag to get the dirt off after a dirty/muddy/whatever ride.
My bridles all get Australian Leather Keep on them 4-5 times a year. Again, it waterproofs them and in between, I just wipe down with a barely damp rag to get the gunk off.
If something gets really nasty, I'll use Murphy's Oil Soap on it, but that's maybe once a year.
The very best leather conditioner I ever came across was a product used to restore leather book covers - the name escapes me but it was something like Redalca. Can't seem to come up with it online anymore.
Ko-Cho-Line is also very good for reclaiming leather good from the dead.
Me? being a combined driver and using synthetic harness - a pressure washer and amorall. . . .
For high shine on your boots a military spit polish is the way to go. Black shoe polish for black boots, set it on fire in the can, put it out with the lid, (only a second or so)and then hot water on a cotton ball (squeeze out excess)and put cotton ball in the melted polish, onto the boots and rub till it goes solid. Until you can perfect your technique do this outside away from anything that can catch on fire, if you are under 18 years old get permission from your parents!
You can do a spit-polish without the fire, or at least I can!
Get a flannel polish cloth, and some water. wrap a section of the cloth around 2 fingers - dip them in a little water. Hot is fine, but room temp also works. Then pick up your polish, and rub in really small circles vigerously till you start to see shine or till you run out of polish on the cloth. repeat many times. You need to build up thin layers of polish - do the entire boot except for the inside of the calf. If you've never polished your boots before - it's going to take a while, put on a good movie or two (I had a captain when I was in cadets that used to say that her right boot liked to watch Top Gun - don't remember her left boot's preference!). If you do this you'll get a mirror shine.
Once you've got the shine - DONT WASH YOUR BOOTS WITH SOAP! No saddle soap, no oil. If they're dirty - just use lukewarm water and a rag. If you use hot you'll melt your polishing job! You only want to use hot if your polish has melted and then gotten dirt caked in, like if you were at a show in the hot sun all day tromping around in your boots.