Active Ingredients

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The tack store shelves are full of a variety of tack cleaners and conditioners, but you’ll find that most have the same key ingredients. Here’s a guide to some of the common ones.

Glycerine: Available in bar or liquid form, glycerine soap is the classic leather cleaner. It is also a popular ingredient in regular bath soaps for its humectant properties—it draws and retains moisture. This helps keep your leather—or your skin—hydrated and supple.

Neatsfoot Oil: A time-tested leather conditioner, neatsfoot oil is a powerful ingredient typically made from lard. Though it is an effective lubricant, it is known to darken leather, so should not be used if you want to preserve a light-colored saddle’s original shade. Pure neatsfoot oil is typically recommended over neatsfoot oil compound, which has added ingredients such as mineral oil. The mineral oil can deteriorate the stitching in tack over time. The name “neatsfoot” comes from “neat,” an old term for cattle, as the oil was originally made from the bovine legs and feet.

Lanolin: This waxy substance is derived from sheep’s wool. It is used both as a moisturizer and as protection thanks to its waterproof properties.

Oil Soap: Not an oil, but a soap derived from vegetable oil, this type of product also includes glycol (as in glycerine soap) and is used as a general purpose cleaner.

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Leslie Potter
Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY. Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.

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