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Equestrian Saddlery & Leather Care

Leather has been used in the field of equestrian since time immemorial and remarkably unchanged in many ways – performing in vastly different conditions from the heat of the Sahara desert to the cold of Iceland. The fact that it has not been superseded or bettered and the importance of it’s functioning to provide safety for horse and rider still is today also remarkable. For horse and rider comfort is of equal importance and this is where leather really comes into it’s own. As for our own footwear there is nothing better than a second skin which is exactly what leather is , and if looked after properly can give decades of service. It exhibits the best of other man made materials, strength but suppleness, rigid to hold shape but still capable of being changed in shape- can be stitched and tacked to connect to other materials yet  it is very different, being organic it allows the climate changes around it to subtly affect it therefore for instance does not create a sweat maker that so many vinyl products do.

The cleaning and treatment of the leather saddlery is so very important for these reasons to ensure continuing strength and comfort.

  • To provide the suppleness that piece of leather was specifically made for. Some leathers are tanned to provide different degrees of rigidity & suppleness according to their intended use.
  • To allow the organic nature of the leather to still breathe.
  • To protect against the ingress of excessive damaging molecules in the form of acidic sweat, dirt, water & mould bacteria.
  • To avoid damage to other structural elements such as the stitching, decorative fine metal work or base metal fastenings  and elements such as stirrup bars and buckles.

In those early days of leatherwork the users were all far closer to the origination processes of tanning and curing leather  from their own livestock or hunted animals. Over the centuries as with most domestic practices and industry they became far more extensive and paradoxically intensive production located in certain areas that became famous for the excellent quality of the leather work. These areas evolved because of unique geological history and climate. Soft water that is unadulterated with rock elements such as limestone etc but also needing nearby the acidic compounds that are required  - natural  tannine being the foremost from whence the word tanning is derived.  Unfortunately as in the very early days there are still ‘poor’ leathers produced in areas that do not enjoy nature’s  perfect ingredients as described above which is why it would be wise to start off with a ‘good’ leather  in the first place; cheaper second hand ‘good’ leather will far exceed the quality and performance of the new ‘poor’ leather .


“English Leather” in the equestrian world has become synonymous with excellent quality simply because the few remaining producers left in the UK are those sited in the places of excellent resources. However most countries do have certain areas/regions that similarly produce quality but it is only by researching or brand name awareness that you can be sure.

Once you have a good piece of kit keep it tick tock with Pickstones  a product of the era when the importance of saddlery and harness was most critical: during world war 1 and later at leisure in the high stakes sport of polo. Click here to see our information sheet regarding the history  of 'saddle soaps' and leather care you will be surprised.

A completely natural organic product in empathy with the nature of leather, in fact so full of goodness that they comply to today’s rigid rules as being of cosmetic grade and quality. Unchanged the formulation continues to look after, restore /rejuvenate and protect and without damaging stitching or metal elements. Too often other original formulations have been gradually altered using cheaper petroleum and other such mineral oils that can destroy stitching and eventually damage the micro fibre structure of the leather.

For everyday the use of Pickstones wash allows a neutral wash to gently remove traces of sweat and grime leaving a very small residue of oil to continue to condition and protect. But every now and then give your saddlery a spa day treatment with Pickstones Leather Balm . After the Pickstones wash apply sparingly to the top sides of the leather and more generously to the underside. Very dry pieces will show their need for a further application . Leave to dry and it will have restored the micro fibres for suppleness while leaving a protective wax sheen and finish to safeguard against future dirt and wet.

In the UK due to the rapidly fluctuating weather conditions leather has a particularly difficult time – combined with often being shut away in secure non ventilated cupboards or rooms. Mould is a common problem but the Pickstones Leather Balm contains a natural anti fungal compound to combat this problem. For severe mould cleaning /restoration please click here to read our detailed mouldy leather guide for important instructions.

The riding and cavalry boots are all looked after alongside the tack but there is sometimes confusion regarding the more recent style of country boots but in fact this is the perfect treatment. My favourite Spanish style work and ride boots have been put through testing times recently with a stint also over in Spain at very hot temperatures but this is the perfect treatment for them and to preserve that comfort , and waterproff and breathable here to find out more details regarding shoes and boots.