To ensure that your leather riding boots last for as long as possible it is essential that they are cared for correctly. As leather riding boots are an expensive and vital part of your riding wardrobe, every rider should be well versed in how to care for them. If you feel that you will not have the time to put into caring for your leather riding boots consider opting for one of the many rubber or faux-leather versions available on the market.
If leather is not correctly cared for it can dry out and split, which will not only ruin these expensive boots but it can also cause a safety issue when you're in the saddle.
It is advisable to clean, condition and polish your leather riding boots in a well ventilated area, and protect the surface that you are carrying this out on using an old rag or some newspaper. Also always wear gloves to protect your hands.
Firstly, remove any mud, sweat or dirt from the boots using a soft shoe brush - it should be soft to avoid scratching the surface of the leather - or a soft cloth and warm water. Try to avoid using too much water as this can saturate the leather.
Using leather cleaner can make this cleaning process easier and offer better results. However it is essential that any residue of the leather cleaner is removed prior to progressing to the next step. If there is any cleaner, conditioner or polish residue left from previous cleans, a pre-cleaner can help to remove these prior to cleaning.
Allow the boots to dry naturally in a well ventilated area. Then buff them using a soft cotton cloth - you can purchase a specific shoe shine cloth or use an old cotton rag, e.g. a t-shirt. It is essential that this item is made of cotton.
Next you will need to apply a leather conditioner. This 'feeds' the leather, moisturising it by replacing natural oils lost through use and cleaning. This helps to ensure the boots remain soft and supple, whilst preventing the leather from becoming dry or cracking.
Look for a conditioner that will not change the colour of the boots and that is designed specifically for use on riding boots. Apply this conditioner using a clean sponge or cloth, rubbing a small amount into the leather. Allow the conditioner to be absorbed and then after a few minutes wipe any extra that is lying on the surface off with a clean, dry cloth.
There are foams, liquids and creams that both clean and condition the leather, allowing you to save time by carrying out the above two steps at the same time.
Once the boots have been conditioned they can then be polished. Ensure that you do a 'tester patch' on a small area - preferably on the inner leg area of the boot. This ensures that the colour of the polish matches that of your boots. If you are happy with the colour match simply rub the polish into the leather with a soft cloth in a circular motion until they shine.
Once the polish has dried fully, buff it using a specifically designed leather shining brush or soft cloth to create a great shine.
After this you may want to protect your boots further from potential damage. Waterproofing products can prevent the appearance of your boots from being ruined by the weather and also help to lengthen the life of your leather riding boots.
The regularity with which you will need to wash your boots will depend on how often you use them, the ground conditions and weather. Ideally you should condition your new boots before wearing them, to ensure that they are at their best and as protected as they can be from the start.