Softening New Leather? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 27 Old 12-19-2009, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Softening New Leather?

I just got a new leather bridle and wanted to soften the leather up. I love my tack REALLY soft because than it looks and feels nice and it doesn't crack or break. I have been basting it with olive oil in a turkey pan periodically over the last 12 hours, and I've been brushing it with a turkey brush too (lol). I plan on leaving it soaking for about another 12 hours.

How does my plan sound? Do you have any other good ideas? What about putting it in the oven or something, my Dad used to do it for baseball gloves . Hhahah

Thanks!

-Amanda
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post #2 of 27 Old 12-19-2009, 10:22 PM
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Oil is good, but I don't know about olive oil, since it can go rancid... Work the leather, roll it around, and the fibers will loosen.
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post #3 of 27 Old 12-21-2009, 03:41 PM
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There has been a lot of discussion about using Olive Oil as a leather conditioner so aside from saying that I am not in favor of it for many reasons, I'll leave that part of the question alone.

As for getting it softer, if it hasn't gotten soft my now, I would wonder about the type of leather you are dealing with. Working the leather will help but if there is little difference after soaking for 12 hours, chances are it is not going to be as soft as you seem to want. What brand of leather is it? Is it an Asian import?

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

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post #4 of 27 Old 12-21-2009, 06:38 PM
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I am very fussy about my leather also. I can not stand hard, dirty cracked leather so I bought a 5 gallon pail of Harness oil. I put my leather in it all the time to soak. I let it sit submirsed in oil over night and then pull it out and hang it above the pail to drip dry for another few days and then wipe it down.
My leather is perfect, soft, clean, no cracks and after almost 25 years my headstall looks brand new.
I have never used anything except harness oil and the amish hear soak their harness in it to keep them from drying out.
For saddles I paint it heavily on the BACK side, not the front.
My equipment sees all sorts of weather from heavy rain, cold snow to swimming and with regular oiling it stays soft.
I do NOT remove the bit. I just wipe it down afterwards.
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post #5 of 27 Old 12-21-2009, 07:54 PM
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I would never soak something leather in oil. Leather is like a sponge. You'll be oiling you hands and horses face as well. I've ruined some nice tack that way.

Lexol leather conditioner works great.
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post #6 of 27 Old 12-21-2009, 09:16 PM
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Personally, I love the Bee Natural leather cleaner and oil. My sister makes custom saddles, and this is what she reccommends to her clients. A bottle of oil (available in many sizes) lasts for a long time and isn't horribly expensive.
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post #7 of 27 Old 12-21-2009, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillybunny11486 View Post
I would never soak something leather in oil. Leather is like a sponge. You'll be oiling you hands and horses face as well. I've ruined some nice tack that way.

Lexol leather conditioner works great.
I bought my working head stall in 1986. About 2 weeks ago I got a complement on how nice it is. They didn't know the age of it only the shine, the softness of it. I regularly receive compliments on my tac. How old is your headstall??
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post #8 of 27 Old 12-21-2009, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iridehorses View Post
There has been a lot of discussion about using Olive Oil as a leather conditioner so aside from saying that I am not in favor of it for many reasons, I'll leave that part of the question alone.

As for getting it softer, if it hasn't gotten soft my now, I would wonder about the type of leather you are dealing with. Working the leather will help but if there is little difference after soaking for 12 hours, chances are it is not going to be as soft as you seem to want. What brand of leather is it? Is it an Asian import?
Thanks everyone! I'm actually curious to why you dislike olive oil...
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post #9 of 27 Old 12-21-2009, 10:11 PM
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I like leather CPR. Works great
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post #10 of 27 Old 12-22-2009, 12:15 AM
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Oil can work nicely, on high quality leather. However, cheap, chemically tanned (even "drum tanned") leather will simply soak up the oil, which will weaken the fibers, making it stretch and break more easily as time goes by. It can also soak up a LOT of oil, taking days and days, if not weeks, for all of the "excess" oil to come out of the leather.

The best way to have "soft" leather that will last forever is to spend the money on QUALITY leather goods made in North America, Europe, or Australia, and some Argentine leather goods. Stay AWAY from any leather products made in India, Pakistan, or any other part of Asia. Even those made with "English bridle leather" are still only "so-so" in quality.

Example: I just bought a pair of "Silverleaf" reins and an "Ansley" dropped noseband from Toklat. Silverleaf is supposed to be Toklat's new "premium" leather goods line.
Toklat - Horse Tack - Saddle Pads - Horse Riding Apparel - Tack & Accessories - Bridle Parts

I was not impressed... Both had tags "made in India" and the leather was not near the quality I was expecting for the price.

I also just bought a pair of Bobby's reins, used from an HGS forum member. THOSE were very nice, high quality reins (barely used, soft and supple!). I've just ordered a Bobby's bridle from a member here, and I'm expecting it will be just as nice.

Bobby's tack isn't as high priced as some, about the same price as Ansley and the new "Silverleaf" by Toklat, but the quality is so much nicer.

I use warmed Hydrophane Leather Conditioner (comes in a can, oily) or Passier Lederbalsam to soften and preserve leather. I prefer the Passier conditioner as it won't "over condition" like oils can. You just whipe off the excess and on you go. Plus a little goes a long way, making it a very economical leather conditioner.
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