Caring for your Bates saddle

Leather is a natural product and as such any marks, scars or colour variations within the leather are not a fault and add to the individual character of your Bates saddle.

Proper care is crucial to maximising the performance of your Bates saddle as its life is reliant on maintaining a certain level of moisture in the leather. Your saddle should be regularly cleaned, using glycerin saddle soap and a damp cloth or sponge to remove dirt, which may otherwise scratch the surface.

Importance of regular maintenance.
Top: regular maintenance with balsam applied to the saddle after every 20 000 rubs with a stirrup leather, for 125 000 rubs in total.
Bottom: no balsam applied, visible damage after only 50 000 rubs.


Cleaning should always be followed with a rich, wax-based dressing, such as Bates Leather Balsam. We do not recommend the use of oil on your saddle. PRIOR to riding in your new saddle, it is recommended that you liberally dress your saddle with Bates Leather Balsam, allowing it to soak in overnight. The overnight process ensures maximum penetration into the leather, helping to seal in the moisture and protect your saddle. Bates Leather Cream can also be used to replenish and rejuvenate the moisture content in your saddle, however, a leather balsam penetrates deeper into the leather and offers a surface barrier, protecting against wear, water, and sweat.

Apply your leather balsam or cream heavily in high wear areas, such as the top of the saddle flap where the stirrup leathers will rub. You may apply your dressing to all areas of your saddle including the padded inserts and girth/billet straps. 

Treated in this manner, you will achieve the traditional, rich patina of aged worked leather and can expect years of excellent service from your saddle.

For more information

  • Learn how to perform a routine health and safety check on your saddle
  • See our in depth guide to intensive and restorative leather care

    Watch as Zac from Deon Stokes' team at Stokes Sporthorses unboxes their latest Bates Victrix saddle and completes their pre-ride care program: