Do you angst over every scrape, stain, and wear pattern on your saddle? There’s no doubt that a good saddle is expensive, so it certainly makes sense to take good care of it. But a saddle is meant to be used and not simply placed on display.
A saddle is first and foremost an object with an important function. Its beauty comes as much from that function as it does from its design and craftsmanship. The signs of wear aren’t damage, but rather are “patina.”
“Patina is a tarnish that forms on the surface of bronze and similar metals; a sheen on wooden furniture produced by age, wear, and polishing; or any such acquired change of a surface through age and exposure. Patina also refers to accumulated changes in surface texture and color that result from normal use of an object such as a coin or a piece of furniture over time.”
Patina is what adds depth and character and visual interest. It’s what makes you look at an old vintage saddle and wonder about who made it, who rode it, and what stories it has to tell.
So, care for your saddle – clean it, oil it, store it well – but don’t wish away its patina that tells your story, and possibly the stories of others who rode it before you.