Posts tagged #leather protection

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

When the temperature is on the rise, how do you help you and your horse deal? More walk breaks, chilling in the shade, lots of water, and a refreshing hose down are just the ticket - oh, and maybe a cold tall glass of lemonade for you, too! However, there’s another key element of your equestrian partnership that is also impacted big time by hot weather - your tack. In this fifth article in our 7 Worst Enemies of Your Leather series, we will be sharing with you the full low down on how heat harms your leather plus tips for how to prevent damage.

Why Heat Hurts

For all of its perceived toughness, leather sure is finicky. Leather doesn’t like it too hot or too cold, preferring to hang out at room temperature. Basically, around 68F is it’s favorite temperature. Higher temperatures are rough on your leather because they dry the leather (and stitching) right out in a big old hurry. This of course causes brittleness, hardness, and ultimately loss of leather fiber strength. The impacts are cumulative, as well, increasing with repeat exposure.

Right….so who lives in that perfect room temperature world? Even with a climate controlled tack room (drool-worthy!), constantly maintaining your leather equipment in a moderate temperature range is ridiculously unrealistic and impossible. And that’s ok, because we’re all in it together to live our horsey lives to the fullest and accept and embrace the wear and tear that comes with it! The trick is to just try to keep your leather out of as many high temperature situations as possible in order to minimize heat damage and keep your equipment supporting your horsey life for as long as possible.

What Can You Do?

Here are some super simple, easy, and realistic tips for keeping your tack happier in the heat:

  • Store your tack in a cool, well ventilated location whenever possible. For example, this could be a climate controlled or air conditioned room or a tack room with open windows/doors. Even running a fan in your tack room is a great help.

  • If your tack needs to sit out at a horse show or while on the trail, keep it in the shade and cover it loosely with a towel or cover.

  • Don’t store tack in your car for very long if at all possible. Even with the windows down on a hot day, that car will get super toasty in a heartbeat. If you wouldn’t leave your dog in the car, the car won’t be a good place for your tack either.

  • Get as much ventilation as you can in your horse trailer tack room in order to help keep your tack cool while driving. As with cars, once parked, try not to store your tack in your horse trailer for very long either.

  • If your tack trunk at horse shows will be sitting in the sun, try not to store your most precious tack in it. Those tack trunks literally turn into ovens in the sun, making french toast of your leather in the process. If you can, hang up your tack first thing in the morning (on the stall door, in the grooming area….) and then put it away in your trunk when you leave at the end of the day (when hopefully it is cooler and the sun will be down shortly). We highly recommend never keeping your saddle in your tack trunk unless the trunk will be kept in a ventilated and constantly shaded area. Even then, if possible it’s a great idea to prop open the trunk door/lid for ventilation.

The Takeaway

Ok, so none of these ideas are too bad at all! Of course, you might not find them to be practical all of the time, but every little bit helps, and these as simple things that will turn into automatic habits before you know it. Keep cool out there and save us a popsicle!

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

Miss the other articles? No problem! Check them out here:

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-water

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-light 

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-bugs-dust-grime

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-ph

Yes, pH Matters - Get Happily Ever After For Your Tack By Avoiding the 7 Worst Enemies of Your Leather

Quality leather tack is certainly one of the bigger investments we make as part of our time with horses. So it goes without saying that you’d like your precious saddle, harness, and other leather gear to last for an awfully, awfully…..awfully long time. We’re just like you…always babying your tack, cringing at every scratch and ding, or freaking out every time it gets put away “wrong”. We probably look crazy to non-horsey people, but hey, they’d probably get a little out of sorts too if something that cost them a few dozen Benjamin’s got roughed up.

No matter your discipline, most of the ways you protect your leather focus on addressing environmental or factors external to your leather, as we’ve been discussing the past few months in our 7 Worst Enemies of Leather Series. However, you can also protect your leather by taking into account its actual inherent physical properties.

And this is probably the MOST IMPORTANT, but least known and most ignored factor when it comes to the health of your leather. (It’s ok, you are not alone. We didn’t know this either until we started working on our company and creating our own line of leather care products.) :)

So we’re going to let you in on the big secret that nobody else is talking about by covering this little known fact about leather care in this fourth installment in our series of 7 articles. Just what exactly does the physical make-up of leather have to do with the leather care products you pick, and then how do you make sure you pick the best products that will keep your leather as happy as a cow in clover?

It’s all about two letters: pH

One of the very best ways to protect your leather tack and your investment is to ensure that you care for your leather using products that support the natural pH of the leather. Ok, so what on earth do we mean by natural pH?

The term pH refers to the measure of acidity or alkalinity of a material on a scale of 1 to 14.

On the pH scale...

-          Acids have a pH between 1 and 7

-          Alkaline materials (also called bases), such as soap and most cleaning products, have a pH between 7 and 14

-          Neutral materials, such as water, have a pH of 7

And modern tanned leather has a pH averaging around 5 (give or take), so leather is acidic.

 

Why does pH matter so much?

Ok, so now it gets super interesting. (Have we mentioned before that we really love science? LOL!)

A chemical reaction occurs when materials of differing pH touch each other. This means that when a product with a pH that is not near the pH of leather is applied to your saddle, your saddle leather reacts just like an elementary school science project volcano. Do you remember adding the vinegar to the baking soda in the volcano and then watching it foam and erupt? This same reaction is taking place in your leather at a cellular level.

The reaction caused by using leather care products not matched to the pH of leather results in damage and premature deterioration to your tack, including:

-          Hardening

-          Brittleness

-          Darkening

-          Loss of strength

Although this damage may not be immediately visible, microscopic damage is still occurring every time a non-pH matched product is used, and this irreversible premature deterioration will become apparent over time.

However, isn’t leather just like our own skin?

Shouldn’t the leather be able to withstand alkaline products since we use alkaline products, such as detergents and soaps, on our skin all of the time?

Yes, leather is essentially just like your skin (our skin is similarly acidic) and should be treated with the same tender care. However, the difference is that your skin is able to constantly renew and repair itself. Leather is unable to repair itself, so we are the gatekeepers to preventing deterioration of our leather tack. Deterioration is often chalked up to leather “just normally aging”, but often this isn’t really the case and is actually the result of improper care.

One of the challenges to ensuring proper care is to find leather care products that are matched to the pH of leather. Many common leather cleaners and saddles soaps on the market are alkaline, so they will unfortunately react with and damage leather.

The Takeaway

Ok, so basically, you’ve gotta just say “no” to alkaline products. Anything “soap” is out for sure. More acidic products like vinegar (pH around 2.5) and lemon juice (pH around 2) should also be avoided.

When searching for leather care products, look for products that are formulated to be the same pH as your leather. Look for wording such as “pH balanced” or “pH matched”. Products with a neutral pH are also a good choice, as these will not react with your leather either. Wondering about our products? This is why Sterling Essentials’ Leather Cleaner is pH matched to your leather and our Leather Conditioner has a neutral pH. With consistent care, using pH matched leather care products will go a long way toward helping you keep your leather in mint condition and lasting for years to come. 

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

Miss the other articles? No problem! Check them out here:

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-water

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-light 

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-bugs-dust-grime

Why is The Sand Arena Ballerina Hooked on Sterling Essentials?

As you may have seen, we’ve recently been able to reach out and deliver our products to our friends in Australia. This has been a super exciting development, and the cherry on top with it all has been that award winning equestrian blogger, Andrea Parker of The Sand Arena Ballerina, checked out our products and gave us a stellar review!

Thank you so much to Aussie gal, Andrea, for her thoughts on our brand!

PC: The Sand Arena Ballerina

PC: The Sand Arena Ballerina

These exquisitely crafted products are infused with essential oils designed to leave your leather looking and feeling a million bucks. They also smell fantastic and will leave both your saddlery and hands free of any greasy residue.
— The Sand Arena Ballerina, May 2019

Get Happily Ever After For Your Tack by Avoiding the 7 Worst Enemies of Your Leather: Bugs, Dust, Grime

Are you one of those people who can wear stunning white breeches and a cute top for hours at the barn only to leave looking as spotless and crisp as when you arrived? If you are, we envy you, and we need to talk because we must have your secrets. :) Otherwise, if you tend to depart from your barn time looking a bit wilted, grubby, and with dirt for makeup, we’re right there with you!

Even in the tidiest of barns, the dirt, grime, dust, cobwebs, and variety of bugs and other creepy crawlies are present. Doesn’t it seem like they all seem to zero in and rub off on you and your pants?

Of course, it goes without saying that if you are getting covered in dirt and such that then your saddle and leather tack is inevitably getting exposed and dirty, too. Welcome to our third installment in our series of 7 articles about the worst things for your leather. In this third article we are talking about why bugs, dirt, and grime are harmful for your gear and how to best protect your leather from this dastardly trio.

How to Avoid Damage from Bugs, Dust, and Grime

Unlike your pony, who delights in a dirt roll and dust bath, your saddle is not so fond of being covered in untold layers of particulates and muck. Your leather tack objects to it quite strongly by dulling, scratching, drying out, becoming brittle, and a number of other unhappy outcomes.

Dust or grime on the surface of your leather can easily work its way into the leather’s pores, ultimately weakening the leather fibers. For example, as you ride any particulates on your saddle get ground into the leather by your legs and seat or by contact between saddle pieces, such as billets and flaps. The severity depends on the grit and grime on your saddle, but the friction during use not only embeds the gunk in your leather, but also creates little scratches and cuts on your leather. Some scrapes may even be big enough to see if the dirt particles are large enough.

Ok, got it - dirt, dust, grime, and so forth are not good, but it doesn’t stop there. Like moths to a flame, a dirty saddle is a major bug attractant. Many critters happily look at your tack like a delicious ice cream sundae. In addition to being attracted to the leather itself, many bugs delight even more in leather that is covered in excess conditioner, dust, sweat, fly spray, and all the other usual grimy suspects around the barn.

Right, so this is all of the bad news, but we wouldn’t leave you hanging without sharing the good stuff! If you are a tack cleaning buff, then you are no doubt way ahead of us and already know all of the answers to how to make sure dust, grime, and bugs don’t call your tack home.

Here are a few quick tips and habits to adopt:

  • Spray on fly spray before you saddle up rather than after. Some will still get on your tack, but you’ll have less overspray onto your tack.

  • Cover your tack when not in use. Loosely cover your saddle with a saddle cover or a towel or blanket. Do the same for your bridle, girth, and other tack - pop it in a bridle bag or use a towel or blanket.

  • Store your tack and leather goods, boots and the like, in a well ventilated area. Bugs seem to love stuffy still humid spaces.

  • Be aware of keeping your equipment out of dirty areas if possible. For example, don’t leave your uncovered saddle out in the barn aisle when you are sweeping the aisle.

  • Inspect your gear each time you use it, looking for damage, evidence of bugs, cuts, tears, chewed up stitching, and similar. Safety first folks!

  • Clean your tack after each use. (A micro-mist spray cleaner makes short work of this – find all the products you need here!)

  • If you don’t have time for a cleaning, give your tack a quick wipe down with a clean damp cloth in order to lift off loose surface dust and grime.

  • Use only the amount of conditioner your tack needs – do not saturate – and then wipe off the excess. If the conditioner hasn’t fully soaked in after 4-5 minutes it is excess.

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The Takeaway

You’ve got to love that the solution to preventing damage from bugs, dust, and grime really boils down to a regular cleaning routine and keeping your leather covered when not in use. Sometimes the simplest ways are the best ways! Not to mention the fastest and easiest – which we admit is often the most appealing by far. We hope you enjoy your next ride along a dusty trail or trip around a powdery arena. You’ve got tools in your toolbox so all of that dust will be no match for you!

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

Miss the other articles? No problem! Check them out here:

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-water

https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-light

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

Who doesn’t love a sunny day? Especially after gloomy winter skies. When that sun pops up, do you envision a nice leisurely trail ride, a hack in the outdoor ring, and days at the showgrounds? It is fabulous that you are so happy about that glowing bright orb in the sky (we are, too), but now the other shoe drops. Your saddle and other leather equipment and boots are sadly just not as big a fan as you are of those warming rays.

Truth be told, your leather has vampire tendencies - a predilection for dark places and a fear of the sun! Welcome to our second installment in our series of 7 articles about the worst things for your leather. No doubt you’ve guessed it. In this second article we are talking about why light is such a bummer for your gear and how to best protect your prized tack. Don’t worry - coffin not required! :)

Why Light Hurts Your Tack

It’s the usual good old story of how sunlight bleaches out the color in items that sit in the sun for too long. The sunlight’s UV rays do a number on leather, fading its color and dulling its patina just like it does to your car’s paint job and your patio furniture. As if wrecking the beautiful rich, deep color of your tack and boots isn’t enough, the UV rays are also able to penetrate deeply enough into your leather to cause fiber damage. This results in weaker, more brittle leather and a shortened lifespan for your favorite saddle.

Although sunlight is often the most common light source we think of in our equestrian pursuits, keep in mind that indirect and artificial light is also damaging. Tack room and barn lights, as well as arena lights, all emit UV rays and contribute to fading and fiber damage over time. And as you’ve learned about through the care of our own skin, you are aware that UV exposure even occurs in the shade and on cloudy days.

Ok, so it’s not exactly like you can slap a coat of sunscreen on your saddle and call it good. Hmmm, though we haven’t tried it, but strangely I don’t think we’ll get all busy with the Banana Boat just yet. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to shelter our tack and equipment from harmful light sources.

How to Avoid Light Damage

The good news is that your leather probably doesn’t normally get that much exposure to sun and other lights. Unless you just leave your saddle sitting naked out in the sun or in a lighted space regularly, your saddle isn’t picking up too many damaging rays. The real key to minimizing light damage is to shield your equipment.

Here are a few easy and inexpensive tips and habits to adopt:

  • Gotta have your tack outside, such as at a show or at your trail campsite? Keep your tack in the shade when not in use. A handy awning, tree, shade of a building…anything will do.

  • Cover your tack when not in use. Loosely cover your saddle with a saddle cover or a towel or blanket. Do the same for your bridle, girth, and other tack - pop it in a bridle bag or use a towel or blanket.

  • Don’t leave your tack chilling out in the sun while at horse shows. This is kinda a pet peeve of ours. Even if you aren’t able to get your tack cleaned and put away right away after your ride, just quickly drape a towel over it to protect it until you can come back to it.

  • Cover your saddle when you put it away in the tack room, your home, or wherever you keep your tack.

  • Store your boots inside and out of direct sunlight. Take it even a step further by keeping your tall boots in a boot bag or in the original box.

Of course, we are big fans of a regular cleaning and conditioning routine for all of your leather, too. (Find all the products you need here!) This will help keep fibers healthy and strong enough to stand up to and slow down damage, fading, and aging caused by normal use and light exposure.

The Takeaway

How fantastic is this that you can do wonders to protect your tack by just tossing any old towel over it? You have to admit that this is a pretty simple, zero effort, basically zero cost habit to get into, and your leather will love you for it! So cover up, Buttercup, and enjoy all the sunshine you want!

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

Miss the first article? No problem! Check it out here: https://www.sterling-essentials.com/blog/get-happily-ever-after-for-your-tack-by-avoiding-the-7-worst-enemies-of-your-leather-water