Tips for oiling your tack


Your tack is quite the investment and needs special care at certain times. Oiling your tack will soften it, condition it, and sometimes darken it.  But – oiling won’t add strength back in if the leather is cracked.

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Don’t oil willy-nilly 


  • Please check with the manufacturer of your new tack and before you oil your bridle, some leather types don’t need oil.


  • The most common time to oil your tack is when it’s brand spanking new before you even use it. The most common oil is neatsfoot oil, and many folks will even use olive oil.  Apply with a sponge or rag. It will take a bit of time to truly soak in (sometimes days), so be patient.



neatsfoot oil

Some brands of Neat’s Foot oil come with a brush – handy!


  • For bridles, you could put some oil in a shallow pan and soak the pieces overnight. This will make the breaking-in time shorter and more comfortable for your horse. Just be sure to check the bridle fit before you oil!


  • The downside is that soaking your bridle in oil also coats the side of the bridle that touches your horse, so wait a few days before you use it on your horse. You can also clean off excess oil with glycerin soap and elbow grease.


hydrophane oil for leather

So many options. Hydrophane WILL absolutely darken leather.


  • If you want to really darken your tack, you can go with hydrophane, also available at most tack shops. This is very common for hunter/jumper saddles, which sometimes start more orange in color. A few coats with hydrophane give you a more natural and darker brown color.


  • Please avoid oiling any leather that covers your saddle’s flocking, as the wool or fiber can soak up the oil, creating a saddle that doesn’t fit and damaging the flocking.


oiling a saddle

This brand-new saddle will darken up with some more applications of oil. Using a brush saves your fingers from certain grossness.


  • Oiling can also be a good idea if you bring a dry, crusty, old, dusty, shriveled-up saddle or bridle back to life for decorative purposes. Dried-up and cracked leather is unsafe but can be restored enough to display.


  • I have found that by cleaning my tack after every use with a leather-safe soap and conditioner, I can avoid the necessity of oiling my leather tack.



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