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[RC] RE:: RC question for those riding in leather saddles - Paul Sidio

OK Marta,
You have gotten some good advice here on saddle care. Here is some real world practical advice for your consideration.
#1) A little water stain from a wet sponge is the least of the dings your new leather saddle will endure over time.  Endurance riding can be a "contact sport".   My suggestion is to tie your saddle to your trucks bumper and drag it down a gravel road for a few hundred feet. Then all the worry about that first scratch is over. No one will notice the little sponge water stain then. 
As for all the advice you got about oiling the saddle, it may be over rated.  Here is something you may not have considered as one of the benefits of not oiling your saddle.  Consider the common situation we all face out on trail as we catch up to  a group of riders or an individual slower rider. It is discourteous and dangerous to just come up unannounced behind them. Their horse may spook, or run away with them. So we should let them know we are approaching. But how to do this? We need enough volume in our voice to alert them. A mumbled quiet warning may not be heard, and when their horse spooks, they will be angry with us for not letting them know we were coming.  If we pitch our voice too high, the warning may sound fearful or panicked. "Look out! I'm behind you!" as if we were on a runaway horse. If we lower the pitch of our voice and raise the volume, it might sound too triumphant or boastful " I've caught up to you and am ready to pass!" Where is the correct social balance for this situation ?  They didn't cover it in the ride meeting.
This is the time when a carefully un-oiled saddle will come to your rescue. As you approach  people at the trot with the un-oiled saddle, they will hear, "thud, thud, squeak, thud.... thud , thud, squeak, thud.    They will be alerted that another horse is coming up from behind.  For heavy traffic or deep foliage areas where more volume is needed, I recommend  even less saddle oil. Then your horse will sound like  "thud, squeak, thud, squeak.... thud, squeak, thud ,squeak"   However, do  not go to the completely un-oiled level where you sound like  "squeak, squeak squeak, squeak......." At that level, you will have other riders oiling your saddle for you.  They may put extra oil on the saddle seat and stirups just to make certain there is enough.
You may find the squeaking helps you time your horses trot better. Or adds extra ommph to the rhythm if you sing while you ride. ( Here comes SQUEAKY cottontail, SQUEAKing down the horsey Trail . SQUEAKY clip clop SQUEAKY clip clop, SQUEAKY all the way...)
This has been my warning system for years, and it has worked great for me. Many times as I have approached people on trail from the rear, They have said they heard me coming a long ways off. I tell them that trail safety has always been one of my top priorities.  They always invite me to pass and go ahead of them. Also when coming in for vet checks, your crew is alerted and prepared for your arrival well before you are in sight. Sure you could carry walkie talkies, but who needs the extra weight, and what if the batteries die?  A wisely prepared un-oiled saddle is the proper technology in the proper place. Sure some people may sneer at you, and ask if you are just too lazy or can't afford saddle oil, but you just tell them that their safety is more important to you than a quiet ride.
Hope this advice is helpfull and useful for you as you adapt from a synthetic saddle to leather.
Paul Sidio
Spokane MO