Caring for your gear

There are a few fundamental rules when owning and caring for leather saddlery, and if you keep these in mind when looking after Sparrow Saddlery, you will get the best in both life and looks from your gear.

Try and avoid three things:

  • 'Heat'
  • 'Water'
  • Your leather 'Drying Out'.

For Sparrow English bridle and stirrup leather we recommend oiling from new as it makes the leather supple, increases strength, and helps to repel water. Apply oil liberally to all bridle leather (the 3 to 4mm thick straps and flaps of tack and saddles). DO NOT immerse your gear, or heat the oil for deep penetration.

The application of oil generally absorbs the waxes on the surface into the leather and leaves the surface rather flat matt. This is restored by the application of glycerine-based soaps and dressings.

Apply soft soap, liquid soap or balsam etc. after oil, and regularly in the future to restore the waxy finish, and to 'feed' the leather throughout it's life.

The ideal condition of your leather is to be supple with body. Not fully impregnated, soft and stretchy. The exception to this rule are leather girths. The lining must be regularly dressed to keep the leather soft and excessive sweat from penetrating.



Avoid Water - Don't wet the cloth which you use to apply soft soap and dressing.

If you get caught competing in the rain, dry your gear in sunlight or airing cupboard. NEVER in front of a heater or fire as too much heat on any part of the leather will 'cook and kill' the leather, reducing it to a stiff board-like strap which will crack when bent. This damage cannot be reversed.

I suggest monitoring the result from the dressing you're applying, and if necessary increase frequency or add oil sparingly. You will get improved life, lustre and pleasure from your Sparrow Saddlery if you clean and dress it after use and before storing.

The dressing products we recommended with confidence are the Car Day & Martin range.

Cooked_reinThis is a photo of the end of a rein which had been dipped in hot water to wash the bits. Note the narrowing of the broken strap and the cracking of the other. They are as hard as a board at the fold. DON'T ALLOW ANYTHING HOT TO BE PUT ON LEATHER.