What can I do to save my horse's tack after it's been rained on?

So you got caught in a storm, some drizzles, or somewhere in between.  Your tack is now somewhere between spotted and soaked.  In some cases, even the space under your bum is totally wet, too, which is just my least favorite scenario.


The whole wet saddle and bridle mess needs to be addressed before everything dries out.  Here’s why.  Leather is made up of fibers, which are held together with protein bonds.  If these protein bonds are allowed to get wet and then dry out, they shrink, break, and create “holes” in your leather fibers.  You can replace the oils, but you have lost leather strength in the meantime.  


When leather gets wet, truly and deeply wet, the water will strip the protein bonds of their oils as the water evaporates, creating a weaker leather that can dry and crack.  This reduces the life and resale value of your leather goods!  


Everybody panic!!  (Or not...)


So - here’s what you do to save your horse’s saddle and bridle!


  • Wipe off excess water with towels.  
  • Use a lightly dampened rag to remove surface oils and dirt.  You might be able to use the same towel that you used to wipe off the excess water. 
  • Condition your saddle with a balsam or other oil.  I prefer the balsams, as they are creamy and easy to massage into the leather. 
  • Dry your saddle out of heat and sun.  Don’t use a hair dryer, just just time.  


Important things to remember - do your conditioning when the saddle is DAMP!!  Waiting for it to dry will weaken the leather and lead to cracks. 



I use a sea sponge to lather on conditioner!


If your saddle is flocked with wool (as many are), it’s time for a phone call to your saddle fitter just in case the flocking is damaged, packed too hard, smooshed around, or otherwise messed up due to excessive water.  Other instances to call your saddle fitter are outlined here in this superb article!


How have you treated wet tack?