Leather has been the material of choice for tack for thousands of years, thanks to the soft, supple and strong properties it brings. Just like any natural material, leather does need to be cared for to ensure it retains those properties for many years. Our bridles, tack and head collars are crafted from Sedgwick leather which is made in England and in demand all over the world. Our customers love the deep shine and how supple the leather is, and they often ask us how best to care for it. Here are some of our tips to make sure you clean, care for, and store your leather bridle so that it will last you a lifetime.
How to clean a leather bridle
How often you clean your bridle will rather depend on how much use it gets, but let’s assume you’re riding 4 or 5 days a week! We recommend that every time you use your bridle, you wash the bit in clean water and wipe off any sweat or mud on the leather with a damp sponge. For speed, this can all be done with the bridle still in one piece!
A more thorough cleaning, where you give the leather a very good clean with warm water and glycerine soap, should be undertaken every 2-4 weeks (again, this depends on how often you use it!). We would recommend spreading a clean towel on a tabletop and undoing the buckles so that you can clean every corner of the leather. If you’re not 100% confident you can put the bridle back exactly as it was, just undo one at a time and do it straight back up once you’ve cleaned and dried the leather. Some leather might need oiling or feeding after it’s been cleaned and left to dry. Our leather is preconditioned, so it should only need cleaning and the application of our specially formulated leather conditioner.
If your bridle gets very sweaty, covered in dust or mud or totally wet through, it’s worth taking the time to clean it properly, regardless of whether it’s a month since the last strip clean. A bridle which has been soaked in the rain should never be dried by hanging it in an airing cupboard or next to a radiator, as that leads to the leather drying out too much and cracking.
How to store a leather bridle
If you have a bridle which you only use for competition days (or competition and occasional schooling, like a double bridle), you might want to keep it clean and safe when you’re not using it. If it’s just hanging in the tack room with everything else it could be at risk of damp, mould spores, or being knocked on the floor or used by mistake.
When you store a bridle away, then make sure it’s totally clean and dry first. Clean it thoroughly, use any leather conditioner or oil and then hang it to dry completely. Wipe it over with a clean cloth or towel and do up the noseband and throatlash. If you’re storing it with the reins attached, place the rein buckle so it is lying on top of the headpiece and not sitting under the headpiece, or anywhere else that might dent the leather or padding. Use a bridle bag to keep dust at bay and stop the leather getting scratched. If you don’t have a bridle bag, then you can use an old (but clean) cotton pillowcase as a cheap alternative.
Then, either lay the bag down flat or hang it up, but either way make sure it’s somewhere dry, protected from frost and not too hot. Many people swear by storing their bridles on the back of the door of their spare room, which is often heated but not as much as the rest of the house!