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How to Repair a Dry Leather Saddle

| Updated August 11, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Saddle stand

  • Neatsfoot oil

  • Saddle soap

  • Mink oil

  • Soft cloth

  • Toothbrush


  • Mink oil provides a level of protection against water damage.

If you own a horse, you already know how expensive saddles and other pieces of tack can be. One way to save money without sacrificing quality or safety is to find an old, neglected leather saddle that needs some TLC. Restore and clean the saddle to bring it back to life, and you can get years of useful service out of it.

Place the saddle on a sturdy stand. It will be easier to clean and soften the leather if the saddle sits on a solid surface.

Soak a soft, clean, lint-free cloth in neatsfoot oil and go over every inch of the saddle surface. It can take some time to work the oil into the leather, especially if the saddle has been sitting neglected for a long time.

Allow the oil to soak into the surface of the leather for at least 30 minutes, then use a dry, lint-free cloth to wipe away any excess.

Examine the leather closely for any cracks or damage, then apply more neatsfoot oil to the leather and allow it to soak in. Continue applying the oil until the leather has lost its brittleness and started to regain its pliability.

Soak a clean cloth in warm water, then dip it in a can of saddle soap. Work the saddle soap into the leather thoroughly. You might need to use a toothbrush to get into the cracks and crevices at the front of the saddle. Cover every part of the surface with the soap, then allow it to soak into the leather for 10 to 15 minutes.

Wipe away the excess saddle soap with a soft cloth, then dip another cloth in warm water and use it to apply mink oil to the saddle. Only use mink oil on dark-colored saddles, since it could darken light leathers.