Can you dye a saddle?

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Can you dye a saddle?

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    03-25-2011, 12:41 PM
Can you dye a saddle?

Ok probably kind of a stupid question BUT you can dye leather shoes so was wondering if you can do this with a saddle. I have found the perfect saddle, love the fit and so does my horse BUT it is brown and I hate brown, I want a black saddle. Anyone know if it would work, and if so what do you think the cost would be??
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    03-25-2011, 12:42 PM
How about a nice seat saver so you do not have to look at its brown-ness?

(I have no idea about dying it, I was just giving another solution if all else is right about it.)
    03-25-2011, 12:57 PM
Oh yes you can dye a saddle, it's a lot of work, but it can look great

I was happy to do a western saddle, that I ride in wearing jeans, but I'd be sacred to do it on an English saddle where I may have to wear light breeches.
churumbeque likes this.
    03-25-2011, 01:02 PM
This is a handy dandy How to, thanks to Lollappaloosa Acres for posting this elsewhere

Dyeing your own tack is an easy (also messy) job that most people are afraid to try to DIY. This "how to" will show you what you need and how to do it!

Find a place to do this job safe from kids and animals. I like to use my kitchen counter but if you have a table in a spare room that'll work too.

Supplies needed:

  • Dye (your choice of color, remember you can always go darker with additional coats.)
  • Wool Daubers (1" work for most applications, I buy in lots of 100.)
  • Detail Brushes (various small sizes, something cheap & disposable.)
  • Protective Drop Cloth (garbage bags work well.)
  • Deglazer (for previously finished leather.)
  • Leather Finish (I like Black Rock but whatever you prefer is fine. NO ACRYLICS!)
  • Edge Finish (for a smooth finished edge.)
  • Metal Polish (to remove dye and give a nice shine to your finished tack.)
  • Rags (old kitchen towels work well.)
  • Rubber Gloves (a good idea but I usually don't bother.)
  • Grubby Clothes (something you usually wear for dirty jobs like painting.)
  • Tack to be dyed (duh)

Supplies pics.

Reference pics: before.

First, you need to disassemble your tack as much as possible. This way you can get into every nook & cranny with the dye. Remove laces, buckles, conchos & rosettes (put metal in a safe place so you don't lose any parts). Lay each piece you're dyeing out on your protective drop cloth.

If you are dyeing previously finished leather you need to remove the old finish & oils with deglazer. Cap deglazer in between uses, it's alcohol and will evaporate quickly! Dip a dauber in the deglazer and apply to the front of the leather. It will dry and look hazy, rub off the haze with your rag.

Shake your dye to mix any sediment in the bottle. Dip a clean dauber (not the one you used to deglaze) in the dye, you want a good amount but not so much it's dripping everywhere.

Apply dye to leather, I usually start on the back side. You'll need to redip your dauber often, the back side of leather is very absorbent. If your leather is virgin (hasn't been dyed or finished before) it will soak up a lot of dye and you will need to apply a few (2-3) coats, letting leather dry in between each coat. Make sure you get the entire piece covered with dye, use a small paint brush to get into tight places.

Back side dyed.

Here is the front side dyed, the top piece is wet, bottom piece is dry. Notice how the dry piece looks kind of chalky, I'll rub that off before I finish it.

This is what the dye looks like when it's almost dry, the shiny places are still damp. These reins have brass studs which I couldn't remove so I dyed over them. The dye will rub off and I'll polish the studs when I finish the rest of the reins.

All leather doesn't accept dye the same, so once it's dry you need to see how it took. Using your rag, rub the dyed piece well and except to get a lot of rub off! Switch to a clean part of the towel as the dye rubs off. You want the rub off on the towel now, not on your hands and horse for the next 6 months so do a good job!

Here you can see the leather needs another coat. Some of the natural color is showing through the dye.

After your initial rub off and redyeing you want to let the dye soak in and set for a few hours.

When your dye job is done you can apply the edge finish. It's not a necessary step but gives your piece a finished look. Let the edge finish dry on each side before turning over to do the opposite side.

When your last coat of dye and edge finish has dried for approximately 12 hours or overnight, you can begin applying your choice of finish. I use Black Rock because it gives a nice sheen to the leather without looking shiny & plastic-y. A little bit of this stuff goes a long way, so be sparing with the amount you use.

Here you can see about how much I use. The shiny circles are Black Rock, and that's about a foot of rein you see.

Rub it in like lotion, it will be slightly sticky when you've rubbed enough. Let dry for approximately 24 hours! It's ready to buff when it no longer feels sticky but is smooth.

I like to use a worn out sweatshirt rag to buff because it's soft and has the right amount of nap. Use light pressure and switch to a clean par of the rag when you get rub off but there shouldn't be much rub off at this point.

Now you're ready to reassemble your tack! This is what these reins look like all put back together! Notice I changed out the conchos and the snap ends.

The matching headstall.

bsms, EmilyJoy, RegularJoe and 1 others like this.
    03-25-2011, 01:06 PM
Does the dying go both ways like if you wanted to get your saddle a lighter color or does it only work for black?
    03-25-2011, 01:16 PM
OMG I love you guys, thanks! @Alwaysbehind- the seat saver is not an option for me, I'm just starting to get into showing and until now I have been borrowing my trainer's saddle. I already have a black bridle that I love so the saddle needs to be black too (and I'm a bit of a snob, I just like the look of black tack!) My hunt tack is brown, for some reason that doesn't bother me, LOL
    03-25-2011, 01:17 PM
Puts on puzzled face

Why would anyone want to dye anything any other color than black??

LOL seriously, same as hair you can only dye darker, not lighter. I don't know of a way of removing color so you can make anything lighter.
    03-25-2011, 01:26 PM
Originally Posted by tealamutt    
I already have a black bridle that I love so the saddle needs to be black too (and I'm a bit of a snob, I just like the look of black tack!) My hunt tack is brown, for some reason that doesn't bother me, LOL
The X-hunter princess in me cringes at the thought of black tack. Giggle. So the snob thing goes both ways I guess.

Originally Posted by Golden Horse    
puts on puzzled face

Why would anyone want to dye anything any other color than black??

LOL seriously, same as hair you can only dye darker, not lighter. I don't know of a way of removing color so you can make anything lighter.
With hair don't they bleach it and then color it a lighter color?
    03-25-2011, 02:01 PM
Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind    
With hair don't they bleach it and then color it a lighter color?
They can strip color out of hair and then redye, I don't know of a way of stripping color out of leather and then redyeing, not saying it can't be done, but I've only been brave enough to go darker.
    03-25-2011, 02:45 PM
I would be deathly afraid of the dye coming out of the saddle.

ETA - Ok, not deathly, but really, really afraid :)

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