Get Happily Ever After For Your Tack by Avoiding the 7 Worst Enemies of Your Leather: Water

If you were thinking about some of the very worst things that will wreck your tack, would you automatically think of water? Water is such a sneaky beast and often flies under the radar when it comes to the health of your beloved saddle, boots, and other leather equipment. Although it’s Mother Nature’s ultimate cleaning agent, water can very quickly do some serious damage to your leather goods. This is why we’ve named it one of the 7 worst enemies of your leather.

In this first installment in a series of 7 articles, we will share with you the know-how you need to help your leather tack and boots avoid water damage. As April showers loom on the horizon, we can definitely see some rainy days and soggy tack in your future, so now is the perfect time to dive into this!

Why Water Hurts Your Tack

Although water seems benign, getting your leather wet actually causes the leather’s fibers to swell. You’ve probably noticed this when your boots have gotten wet. When wet they may feel a little plumper and softer. Unfortunately, the fibers become permanently weakened when they swell too much. In addition to weakening the leather, water exposure also ultimately causes your leather to shrink and crack over time since leather’s structure changes and does not dry to its original full shape after being wet.

Also if the leather is stretched while wet, the fibers become weaker still. Ever observe that wet leather seems to be a little more stretchy than usual? You might have used the trick of wetting a new pair of tall boots and then wearing them until they dry, essentially stretching the leather out to conform to your foot and leg. Although this might be a way to break in your boots quickly, the leather becomes damaged and a little weaker than before with this technique.

Ok, so all of this sounds like really bad news. It is inevitable that some loss of strength and water damage to your tack will always happen just through normal day-to-day use. The thing to keep in mind is that the worst damage occurs with repeated significant water exposure.

Yikes, does this mean you need to quit those rides through the waves at the beach or lose sleep over jumping into cross country water obstacles? No way! With a little awareness and care, you can really keep the impact on your saddle and leather goods to a minimum while still riding gleefully through all of the puddles you want!  

How to Avoid Water Damage

Like we said before, water is super sneaky, and it interacts with your tack probably more often than you even realize. Did you ever really think twice about dropping your bridle half submerged into a bucket of water in order to soak your bit clean? No judgement here; we’re guilty as charged on occasion, too!

Here are a few easy tips and habits to get into in order to minimize and prevent water damage, helping your leather have a long and happy life.

-          Minimize the Water:

o   Avoid saturating your leather. Don’t leave it in the rain or wash it down with a hose. Don’t put your leather in the washing machine or dishwasher.

o   Use water sparingly when cleaning your tack. For example, use a damp cloth, not a dripping wet cloth.

-          Bit Cleaning:

o   Need to get your bit clean? Instead of soaking it in a bucket, try washing it off under running water (wash rack, outdoor spigot, tack room sink) using a vegetable or nail brush to scrub off the stuck on green slime. We loop the reins and crown over our shoulder to help the bridle stay clear of the water stream and splashes.

o   If a bucket is all you’ve got to work with, only fill it with just enough water to cover the bit. Drape your bridle over the bucket without any slack so that the leather doesn’t fall into the water.

-          Boot Care:

o   Wet boots? Try newsprint or tissue paper loosely stuffed in the foot to wick away moisture quickly. Electric boot dryers work wonders, too. Follow with leather cleaner and leather conditioner.

-          Saddle Protection:

o   Cover your saddle with a saddle cover or blanket if you’re out in wet weather. Quarter sheets are amazing for a little saddle protection. If you tend to ride out frequently in the elements, it may be well worth investing in some rain sheets designed for riding and that have slots for your stirrups to come through.

-          Cross Country Splashing:

o   Are your stirrup leathers or girth wet from splashing through waves, puddles, rivers, or water jumps? Towel off any excess water, and then apply leather cleaner. Give the leather and girth a light coating of leather conditioner to minimize leather shrinkage once the leather has dried.

-          Removing Moisture:

o   Caught in a soaking storm?  No problem; towel off the excess moisture right away so it isn’t absorbed. Let your tack rest uncovered in a well ventilated area in order to breathe and dry gently and gradually before storing. Terry towels and a fan work well for this. Don’t place your tack next to a heater or use a hair dryer – this causes all kinds of other problems (which we will talk about in an upcoming article in our series).

o   If you’ve gotten your leather soaked, clean it thoroughly immediately and apply a nice coat of conditioner once your leather has dried. This will help restore balance to the leather fibers and will help diminish rain spots. Additional buffing with a cloth will also help reduce rain spots.

-          Lay Flat to Dry:

o   If you need to dry your girth, stirrup leathers, martingale, bridle, or any leather you typically hang up to store, lay these items flat to dry. Gravity will work to stretch your wet tack if left hanging while drying, and we know that is not what you want!

o   Also, be sure to dry your tack, boots, and equipment in their natural shape and orientation so that they don’t deform.

The Takeaway

Do you see a theme with all of this? :) Ensuring the long-term health and happiness of your leather really starts with avoiding water as much as possible in the first place. This is, umm, pretty much impossible to always do, so the next best thing is preventing as much water damage as possible. In a nutshell, if your leather gets wet you should wipe off any excess water, thoroughly clean with a leather cleaner, let dry gradually in a well ventilated space, and then lightly coat with leather conditioner. Viola! We hope there is a rainbow and pot of gold at the end of your ride in the rain!

**Be sure to keep an eye open for our next and second article in our Series coming out next month!

Get Happily Ever After For Your Tack by Avoiding the 7 Worst Enemies of Your Leather

What do you think are some of the very worst things that will wreck your tack? Gosh, it would be nice to know, right? We know it’s not like you’ve got thousands of dollars to shell out on brand new saddles and boots every time something bad happens to them. Or do you? (LOL, if you do please contact us!)

We’re totally with you about wanting to take the very best care of our precious equipment and are committed to helping you have all the know-how to do it.

That’s why we’ve got a new blog series coming your way starting this month:

Get Happily Ever After For Your Tack by Avoiding the 7 Worst Enemies of Your Leather!

The first blog is coming next week, so stay tuned! It’s an enemy you deal with all the time, so don’t miss it!

Posted on March 13, 2019 .

Sterling Essentials vs. Muddy Boots

The war on mud is real, oh so real, this time of year. Oh, and for the next 3 months, too. If your black boots are now brown and you’ve grown ok with that permanent color change due to artfully caked layers of mud and barnyard grime, who are we to judge. LOL!

However, if you really think your life will be better if your boots could still be beautiful, sans mud art, (and you know it will!), then you really need to read the scoop from The Head Equestrian. Even some serious South Carolina red mud - that heavy red clay that stains everything - is just no match for us.

Photo Credit: The Head Equestrian

Photo Credit: The Head Equestrian

It was rainy and wet in Aiken today, so I’m taking advantage of it and putting my leather cleaner and conditioner to the test! Not only do we have orange mud, but splashed footing as well.

I started with the lavender leather cleaner. I simply sprayed directly onto my boots and let sit for about ten second before rubbing it in or wiping. I told y’all, tack cleaning is time consuming and I have no patience. The Sterling Essentials website actually claims that their product will clean leather in 30 seconds or less – I have to vouch for it!

...I must say … I am impressed. These boots have not been deep cleaned like this since I bought them in October, and they came immediately clean.
— The Head Equestrian, February 17, 2019

Catch the full mud blasting analysis from Emily Head at The Head Equestrian here:

Posted on February 25, 2019 .

Your Girth Might Not Be The Only One to Blame

Even though spring is just a month a way, does your horse still sport the shaved look and some racing stripes? Fortunately, our unofficial mascot, Big Rabs, didn’t need to get body clipped this year. The sweet guy was able to preserve his dignity ever so slightly since he didn’t look like a naked mole rat the past few months.

Was your partner in crime not so lucky? And does your horse seem to get a little more sensitive and irritated at the girth now, too? It may not necessarily be a coincidence. Sometimes irritation, dry skin, and sensitivity around the girth area are the result of a chafing or poorly fitting girth. However, for horses with a close body clip, the culprit for discomfort might actually be the leather care products used to care for your girth.

Got racing stripes? Irritated girth area, too? Your girth might not be the only one to blame.


Your horse’s coat and delicate skin are very susceptible to product irritation during this time of year if their coat is clipped. Without the usually thicker buffer of hair, the tack cleaners and conditioners you use on your girth can more easily get onto your horse’s skin. If any of these products contain harsh or potentially irritating ingredients, this may very well be the reason for your horse’s lumps and bumps, dry skin, and sensitivity at the girth. Coupled with winter’s cold dry air, it is easy to see how your horse’s skin could quickly become chapped, flaky, and uncomfortable. Think about your poor hands this time of year.

If you are dealing with girth area issues, we suggest you consider not only the fit of your girth but also if the leather care products you are using are contributing to the problem. When shopping for superior leather care, look for products that are gentle, and steer clear of harsh and counterproductive ingredients such as alcohol, lanolin, glycerin, petroleum based products, mink oil, and other similar materials.

We totally sympathize with you, too. One of our horses a number of years ago, Pierre, was very sensitive to products and would break out along his girth and under his bridle leather. This is just one of the reasons we developed our own line of gentle animal friendly leather care products. You can definitely take comfort in the fact that there is a solution out there for you. With a little research and possibly trial and error, you’ll be on your way in no time to happy horses and no more lumps and bumps!

Posted on February 20, 2019 .

Announcing Collegiate Sponsorship Program

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Brand new for 2019, we are very excited to announce the launch of our Collegiate Sponsorship Program. The Program is open to college equestrian teams of all disciplines and already has several inaugural members, including the Stanford University Equestrian Team, University of Oregon Equestrian Team, University of Kentucky Dressage Team, and University of Arizona Equestrian Team.

College equestrian teams face many challenges, so we are glad to lend a hand to help keep teams thriving and to support these up-and-coming athletes, the future of horse sports, with their dreams and goals. We look forward to working with many teams this year! Teams interested in learning more about the Program are encouraged to contact Teal Shoop, our CEO, at  

Posted on January 25, 2019 .

A Little Goes A Long Way

We are delighted that our products continue to get such wonderful buzz. Happy New Year and a happy new review, thanks to Tessa and Equestrian Evaluations! Known for her straight talk on all things equestrian, Canadian blogger, Tessa Gregory, took the pulse of our products and found us to be a hit.

I started off with the Eucalyptus conditioner. I really love it. It is so creamy and it just melts right into the leather effortlessly. You hardly need any, which is important and a little goes a long way! I applied it to my Dublin boots and it absorbed immediately into the leather.
— Tess, Equestrian Evaluations, Janary 2, 2019

Visit Equestrian Evaluations for the full review and for more raves about our fragrances:

Posted on January 14, 2019 .

The Game Changer - Anti-Aging for Your Leather

Have you ever noticed how your leather boots or half-chaps wrinkle and pucker with time? These wrinkles and sags are inevitable as the leather breaks in and conforms to the contours of our feet and legs. This is a natural part of leather aging and use. However, this sagging, dragging, and saddle-bagging of our lovely leather goods becomes even more pronounced when our leather loses it’s fiber strength (aka not nourished routinely) and when the wrinkles turn into rigid mountain ranges due to residual sweat, dirt, and grime. And yes, this does even happen to me, queen of the leather care routine! Ugh. What do do?

Cleaning and conditioning is always key, and as Jackie Guezille illustrates so fantastically in her review of our products in the latest Wally the Pony blog, the results can be stunning. Botox for leather anyone? According to Jackie, our products are an absolute game changer in her routine, and we hope they will be in yours, as well!

Why does blogger Jackie recommends a two step leather care process? How do our products stack up against some pretty nasty looking gear? Do our products strip out the dyes in your leather? See for yourself and more by checking out Jackie’s full review at

Before on the Left, After on the Right

Before on the Left, After on the Right

You can see that the dark rich color of my leather is restored, WITHOUT stripping any of the dye off. Any dirt or horse sweat is gone (minus the mud I left on my boot heel–sorry!), but the leather is much more supple and moisturized. It was honestly like looking at before and after pictures of people getting Botox. All the wrinkles and lines disappeared, and my half-chaps looked better than they have in months.
— Wally the Pony, Jackie Guezille

Thank you, Jackie for this detailed tell-it-like-it-is on our products!

Photo Credits: Jackie Guezille, Wally the Pony Blog

Now Available at Big Dee's Tack

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Just in time for the holiday shopping season to kick-off in full swing, you can now include our products on your shopping list for your next trip to Big Dee’s Tack & Vet. We are so excited to be working with this Streetsboro, Ohio fixture, a great testament to the community with over 40 years in business!

Big Dee’s has so many exciting holiday events planned, including giveaways galore, so be sure to pop in soon!

Posted on November 16, 2018 .

Love Your Tack - So Commands Bits and Bays

It is always exciting and fun to become connected with other Pacific Northwest horse loving entrepreneurs! Early this fall we had the pleasure of being featured by fellow PNW horse junkie, Betsy, in her beautiful equestrian lifestyle blog, Bits and Bays.

An amazing review, we were blown away by Betsy’s products-in-action photography and warm praise for our products. Visit Betsy’s blog to read the full review:

Okay, so enough babbling about how good it smells, you’re not shopping for perfume, the important part about Sterling Essentials is that it works. Not only will your tack smell amazing, it will be polished, conditioned, and ready to last a lifetime. Time to queue up a Netflix series to binge while you engulf yourself in amazing smells and deep clean your gear.
— Bits and Bays, September 28, 2018
Posted on November 2, 2018 .

We're Ready for You Snowbirds

If you are a local Floridian or a snowbird headed that way soon for the winter circuit (or just to ditch the icicles), you know with the utmost certainty that you have some of the best tack, feed, and equipment shopping in the country at your finger tips in Florida. So many choices, lucky, lucky you!

No doubt Berrettini Feed Specialists, Farmcreek Tack Supply, and Seminole Feed are some of your fave destinations, and we are happy to share with you that these stores are now stocking our products! Hmmm, what fragrance do you think goes best with Florida weather? Maybe the Floral Citrus for a little bit of exotic, tropical zing? :)

Posted on October 31, 2018 .