Dry Saddle - Page 2

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Dry Saddle

This is a discussion on Dry Saddle within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category

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    12-14-2013, 06:54 AM
If the leather is tanned via oak (bark tan aka vegtable tanned) which most western saddles are then there is a wide variety of applications one can use. PURE neatsfoot is one product I use often. Neatsooft oil is from the boiling down of cattle bones. The oil from carteliage and connective tissue rises to the surface in the boiling process and is super filtered and no additives are used thus being "pure". 'From the cow back to the cow' is what I say. Neatsfoot compound has additives that can eat out natural fibers like cotton stitching. NEVER use petroleum products on leather, you will damage the leather (and stitching, esp nylon based threads). Olive oil, I don't use simply because over time it will smell esp if left in the sun to long (which you should not do to leather goods anyways) and if wet. Its a funk you will not get out, some don't mind it but it makes me gag. It might also cause some saddles with cheaper tanned leather to bloch. You do not have to "condition" leather to get it to absorb oil but it must be clean. Do not wet a saddle before oiling water and oil do not mix and the point is moot. Dry clean leather is best. Leather must be able to breath and clogging the pores can damage the leather. If you want a "thinner" oil/conditioner use Leather New Replenisher/Restorer. This absorbs very nicely and I use it often on older leather.

I will warm up neatsfoot oil by placing the bottle (i buy in gallons because I detail and repair them and its cheaper that way. And put them in pint size bottles, easier to work with) and set them in hot water, don't put in microwave....if you get it to hot it can scrorch the oil and thus break down the properties of the oil and ruin the leather. I apply in layers allowing each layer to penetrate the leather. With areas of a saddle I want pliable I will work the leather with my hands while applying the oil. I use a paint brush to apply the leather but you can use a small sponge or rag. (I don't use much in sponges because they hold bacteria and mold. However if you designate a sponge just for oiling on clean saddles you can get away with this. Clean out sponge with dish washing liquid like dawn after applying the oil and let dry, that way bacteria and mold wont get in and party. Use that sponge only for oiling.) I often use my hands to oil strap goods and will rub it in my hands to warm it up some and have at it working the leather while applying the oil. With hands and paint brushes you waste less of the oil. Use a tad of glycerin or leather finisher to "seal" in the moisture and buff to a nice matte finish.

If the oil smells funny (other than its normal oilly smell) and is cloudy do not use it, it may have gone rancid......yes neats foot oil can go bad, remember where it comes from. However in right conditions it has a long shelf life.
Note: Neatsfoot oil wll darken lighter coloured leather.

After a good cleaning and oiling: use a light conditioner between cleanings to keep leather from getting to "thirsty" and to keep it rich.
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    12-14-2013, 07:21 AM
Remember leather is skin, skin has pores and this is important in keeping leather in good condition. If you clog the pores this can hinder breathability and can hinder the life and look of your saddle, bridle etc.. The tanning process is also important and the better the leather tanning process the better the leather. ( this includes the quality of the hide when it comes off the cow.) Olive oil, canola oil, vegtable oil blends and solidified coconut oil (if your going to use it use liquified) can clog pores of a saddle. I have had to strip saddles that have been damaged over time by those using these applications and stripping can be hard on the leather. When the pores are clogged moisture (the kind you want) cannot get in and the leather cannot breath. Just like your skin, you don't want to clog the pores. If you use sealants often the same thing occurs esp a polyurathane based sealants (leave polyurathane to wood........acrylics are better). Use waterfroofing agents designed for leather products.

FYI; back in the ancient days before neatsfoot and all of that good stuff we have today.......animal fat was often used to replenish leather goods. From the animal back to the animal.
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    12-14-2013, 09:31 AM
Green Broke
Neat is an old archaic word for any animal with a cloven hoof. I suppose if you could process enough camel toes that would work too.
    12-14-2013, 11:50 AM
Jusr to add if you use olive oil, and do not rub it in perfect, it can cause mold on your leather.
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    12-14-2013, 11:57 AM
Green Broke
I have heard SO many conflicting things about the best way to condition a saddle. The general consensus on this thread is to paint the heck out of it in neatsfoot oil. When I got an old, stiff western saddle I asked what the best way to go about softening it was, and several people told me NOT to use neatsfoot oil until I basically saturated the thing with water.

For the record, I did try it. I still have a super stiff saddle, but the fenders are for the most part staying in the right position
    12-14-2013, 08:34 PM
DuckDodgers, if the leather is good quality, but just dry, then you can re-oil it now that there's no water in the leather fibers and it will take the oil and soften up. However, if the leather isn't good quality, you may just be stuck with a stiff saddle.

Here's what I do when I get a new saddle. I put it on a 2x4 with the fenders soaking in warm water. When they are super saturated, I take the saddle and put it on a stand in the tack room and twist the stirrups 1.5 times around and put a section of board through the stirrups to keep them twisted until the leather dries

Then, once the leather has completely dried, I'll pull the board out and oil the heck out of the whole saddle with warm oil. After that, the stirrups are "turned" naturally and the entire leather is super supple so that you can twist it to whatever position is most comfortable for you.

If the rider has shorter legs, like me, sometimes they'll need to re-set their stirrups every few months.

Just as an example. This is what my saddle looked like right out of the box. The stirrups faced almost flat to the horse's side and the leathers were stiff so they put a lot of torque on my ankles and knees

Then, after a heavy oiling and a little bit of use, they still face a bit flat because I keep them so short, but they are supple enough that they don't inhibit my legs at all and I can turn my feet straight out to the side easily.
*old picture from right after I got it*

I do need to set them again though. It's been a couple of years.
    12-15-2013, 03:32 AM
Originally Posted by SueNH    
Neat is an old archaic word for any animal with a cloven hoof. I suppose if you could process enough camel toes that would work too.
Neatsfoot oil today is made from cattle after processing of goods like meat, hides and etc. At least here in America. It may infact contain hoof material.
    12-15-2013, 03:46 AM
Green Broke
It's a guffey barrel saddle so not top of the line, but pretty far from the bottom! I've come across one in the past that was quite supple.
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    12-15-2013, 04:49 AM
DuckDodgers: I have heard alot of mythology and Supposedly "old timers" suggestions (though when I actually talk to an "old timer" they never say such weird stuff to me about caring for leather goods) that are just that myths and a whole lot of bunk. Just like with other things of subject matter. Alot of ppl did (and still do) foolish things were consequences don't show up immediatly but do over time. I have heard ppl say dunk your entire saddle in the water trough and ride in it. NOT a good idea. Water can warp a tree esp a wooden tree covered in rawhide. Not only that, it can warp the leather and cause fractures to show up in the tree as well. With your saddle try cleaing it and then use neatsfoot oil and work the leather. If the fenders are harder than you like roll them back and forth like you would a news paper and apply oil via paint brush while rolling them. You will need to apply several layers of oil and work the leather. Good way to work out frustration. Once the leather is getting pliable you can then shape the leather into the contour you wish and let it set.

On a side note Raw hide is untanned leather. It dries firm and is voided of oil (unless one applies to it). It swells when wet, is workable and if put into a form and will dry like that. It can be made into various thicknesses and can be used for various applications.
    12-15-2013, 09:23 AM
Green Broke
I use a paint brush and warmed neatsfoot oil on dry leather.

I take a bowl of warm water and a smaller bowl for the neatsfoot oil and fit it on top to make kind of a double boiler thing only no boiling. The water keeps the oil warm for a bit. When it cools I dump the water and put more hot back in.
Really dry pieces I might even sit with the thing in my lap and work the oil in with my fingers.

Really grungy, forgotten in the barn saddles I have put in the shower and hosed off. Then follow with saddle soap. I start conditioning before it is 100% dried but the surface water is gone.

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