Saddle Dying

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Saddle Dying

This is a discussion on Saddle Dying within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category
  • How much does it cost to dye a saddle?
  • Re-dying a saddle

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    11-03-2009, 01:29 PM
Cool Saddle Dying

I'm having trouble finding a black saddle in the style I like and in my price range (that's well made, too). I've seen a gazillion lighter saddles that I would LOVE if only they were black. The saddle has to be black because it's part of my uniform.

Does anyone know about how much it cost to dye a saddle black? Does it have to have a certain finish (like it can't be polished or has to have a matte finish)? Are there some colors that are easier to dye black than others? I like tooling a problem (should I look for saddles with less...I'm not sure how hard it is to get inside it. Lol)?

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    11-03-2009, 01:52 PM
Dying a saddle shouldn't be a huge problem. Although I've never done a saddle, I've dyed numerous bridles, reins, breast collars, and saddle bags. It would be simpler to start out with a lighter saddle but which ever saddle you choose, it would be helpful if it didn't have a clear finish on it. The clear finish will hamper the leather's ability to take the dye.

In any case, the key to successful dying of the leather is in the preparation. Go over the saddle several times with alcohol or a suitable leather prep. You want to remove as much of the oils and finish as possible (you will put them back when you are finished dying the saddle). I would buy several bottles of a good quality dye such as Kelly's and apply with a sponge brush, using a small brush to get into the tooling. I would apply several coats and let it dry for a day or so before applying leather conditioner. If you did it correctly, it shouldn't bleed on your clothing - mine never bleed on my horse or my hands.

One last thing, be sure to do it in a well ventilated area, have a drop cloth under the saddle, and wear gloves!
    11-04-2009, 02:17 AM
This is something I can do myself?? Here I thought it was this big long complicated process that I was going to have to pay an arm and a leg for.

Maybe I'll find me an old cheap-o on Ebay to practice on first. I know my mom did that with my old Bona Allen that I used as a show saddle when I was a kid. We couldn't afford a flashy show saddle so she "made" me one. She doesn't remember what all she did to it, though. I actually have it in my (lol) right now even though it doesn't fit my horse. It looks brand new even though it's a 1937. It's all still shiny and she put a lot of silver conchos on it.

If I wanted to put a clear finish on it, would that help it not to fade or rub off and what do you use? A friend of mine just had her Circle Y professionally done recently and the black is already coming off the fenders. I'd hate for the black to start coming off all over.
    11-04-2009, 06:38 AM
If you prepare the leather properly, the dye should not come off. The tack I did two years ago is still perfect and I use it nearly every day. The difference between paint and dye is that paint just lays on the surface and dye penetrates the fibers of the leather. Spraying a clear may seal it for you but I never used one.

Trying it on an old piece of tack would be a great idea.

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