When my saddle came I noticed that the leather and straps were all really dry. The Billets were good but all of the panels, safe, balance girth & overgirth were all very dry. I think someone must have kept it in their house for a long time and it dried out?
I wasn't really sure what was best to use on sidesaddles so I emailed a few experts in the field. One of those was Linda Flemmer from the Side Saddlery. What a wonderful lady! I have to admit that over my search for a sidesaddle I've inundated her with questions and she's always been so helpful. I was told to use a soap/conditioner that would have been used when the saddle was made, because the leather was tanned differently than saddles of today. I started out using Lexol but apparently that isn't the best thing to use. I found some glycerine soap and "leather balsam". The main ingredients in the leather balsam are lanolin & beeswax. I gave the saddle a good coating with it last night and it absorbed every bit of it. It's starting to look like a whole new saddle! The panels are getting a bit more flexible and the straps are so much better. Not to mention that all of the scuff marks on the cantle and top of the pommels have pretty much disappeared.
The stirrup mechanism was pretty gummed up and all of the metal fittings including the stirrup were dirty and tarnished. (They had a greenish tarnish on them.....silver plated maybe?) My boyfriend actually took quite an interest in the saddle, it's so different from an english or western saddle. He cleaned up all the metal on the saddle with some polish and oiled the stirrup mechanism.
Doesn't it look nice?