What is Lanolin, and Why Your Tack Needs It.
Lanolin is a natural oil that is found in a sheep's wool. Every year when a sheep is sheared, the wool is washed, and the lanolin is recovered during this cleaning process to produce one of nature's best moisturizers. Why is this important for your tack? Because leather (much like our own skin) thrives when natural moisturizers are applied to it.
Since lanolin is a natural oil, it is excellent at softening leather, and preventing it from drying. It has water-repellent, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. If you want to get your tack buttery soft, use a leather balsam where lanolin is an ingredient. My favourite balsam is available here. For those of us who ride outdoors year round, the added bonus of it being water repellent is fantastic.
One word of warning: since lanolin is known for softening leather quite effectively, I suggest that you DO NOT use it on any billets or stirrup leathers as you want them to remain strong and resistant to breaking.