Prevention is better than a cure!
If possible, try to avoid getting your tack wet as this can cause severe damage to the delicate fibre sub-structure. If your saddle or bridle do become soaked, caring for them correctly can minimise potential damage.
When leather becomes waterlogged, the inner fibre becomes stretched to accommodate the absorbed water. In this state, the leather is then weakened as the fibres are distorted from their normal strong organisation.
As the leather dries, the conditioning oils evaporate with the moisture, leaving the fibres with little or no lubrication.They then stick together in clumps leaving the leather feeling stiff and dry.
It is essential to lightly condition the leather whilst it is still wet, thus permeable and responsive. Always wipe off dirt and mud carefully, before it has had the chance to dry. Belvoir Leather Balsam or a very sparing application of Neatsfoot Compound is then recommended.
It is essential to dry all wet leather items as naturally as possible away from direct heat such as radiators, heaters or fires. If not, the accelerated drying process causes the rapid removal of moisture and conditioning oils.
If these steps are followed, your tack should not become stiff, dry or watermarked.
Whenever possible try to prevent your tack getting wet in the first place by investing in a waterproof saddle cover. Also, be careful in the rain, as the colour from waterproof jackets or chaps could run onto your saddle, and leather is more easily stained when saturated.