A clean, well-conditioned saddle and bridle look terrific, but the more important benefit is greater comfort for your horse. Stiff, dirty tack can cause irritation and even open sores. A dirty cinch, for example, is an all-too-common cause of troublesome cinch galls. Cleaning your tack also alerts you to needed repairs, so you can avoid breakage mishaps. Well-maintained gear lasts longer, too, saving you money.
Clean your leather gear at least twice a month with a good saddle soap or leather cleaner, then treat it with a leather conditioner or neatsfoot oil. Wash cinches by hand, using a mild detergent; this approach also works well for nylon-web gear, including halters. And don’t forget your bits, which will taste sweeter and keep from causing sores if you keep them clean with soap and water.