Your bridle is an investment and when properly cared for will last you many years. However, people are often unsure how to correctly maintain and clean a leather bridle.
Ideally you should wipe your bridle down with a damp cloth after every ride. This prevents the build-up of sweat, dirt and grease which will compromise the leather over time.
Every few weeks you should give your bridle a thorough deep clean. This ensures that the leather remains supple and the stitching intact and strong.
You will need:
Small bucket of warm water
A dry sponge
Cleaning your bridle:
Take apart your bridle completely and lay out on an old towel.
Using a damp cloth clean off the sweat, grease and dirt from the bridle. Warm (but not hot) water works best.
Slightly wet the sponge and wipe over the leather bar soap, or apply a small amount to the sponge if using liquid, and work into the leather.
While the leather is still damp after the soap apply a thin coat of leather conditioner or oil. Work it in with a sponge or cloth.
Clean your bit.
Leave the bridle to air dry out of direct heat and sunlight.
HINT: If you are new to putting a bridle back together, wash it piece by piece. Remove one part of the bridle, clean it and then put it back on.
Reassembling your bridle:
Lay down the crown piece and throatlash as it would sit on the horse.
Put the browband on by threading the end of the throatlash and upper cheek piece through. If your brow band has a ‘right’ and ‘left’, put the right side on first, upside down, as it will then be on the correct way.
Attach the cheek pieces, ensuring the buckles face outwards.
Attach the noseband by putting the long strap through the browband loops, under the crownpiece, and buckling the end to itself.
Attach the bit to the cheekpieces, ensuring that it is attached so that the curve of the bit will be convex over the horses tongue.
Attach the reins to the bit under the cheekpieces.
Things to remember:
Pay extra attention to cleaning the ends of reins and cheek pieces where they attach to the bit as they get a lot of saliva on them.
When cleaning check that stitching is intact, buckles are not breaking and that the leather is not cracking.
You do not need to rinse leather soap off. It is made from glycerine which helps to keep the leather sealed, protected and supple.
You do not want a lather to build up when you are soaping the bridle as it will coat the leather and can cause it to harden.
If you want to use oil, use only a small amount. Wait for the first coat to absorb properly and dry before applying more. Too much oil will damage fibres in the leather.
Always air dry your bridle. Direct heat and sunlight will cause leather to dry out and crack.
Store your bridle in a cool and dry area to prevent mildew build up.