How to make my saddle darker?
Ok so I've had this saddle for awhile now, and I had it ordered brand new when I got it.
The one I tried out from the store was a nice havana brown color and looked like this (sorry hard to see if with ME on it but you can kind of see the color under my leg!):
Now, the one I ordered brand new ended up looking far more reddish brown than the one I tried out:
When I first got it someone suggested I use leather dye, which I tried (can't remember the name right now but it was in a white bottle that kinda looked like a mini laundry detergent bottle).
I've used it several times, but it only seemed to succeed in making the stirrup leather marks look more obvious :lol:
I've also conditioned it multiple times with Black Rock leather conditioner but hasn't really done much to the color of it. So anyone have any clue how to get it to the deep Havana brown I like so much? :wink:
Oh and someone mentioned using Neets Feet oil once which I tried and it was horrible, won't use it again. It actually just put this waxy residue on the saddle and made my once soft and pliable girth straps stiff and hard!
Black Rock is touted as a conditioner to use NOT to darken leather so that was not going to help.
Unless you prepared the saddle for the dye, it didn't do much good either. What I've used to color bridles and other leather products is made by Kelly and I got it at a shoe repair store.
You can also try Hydrophane darkening oil but that takes time. I'm afraid that you will most likely never get it to the point that you are expecting it to be without dying it.
I've never heard of Neatsfoot oil making leather hard, but warmed up Neatsfoot will help.
Don't know what type of leather your saddle is made from, but Neatsfoot shouldn't have made it hard. I used it on my Stubben, and that saddle is back to almost new condition.
However, if you have a synthetic saddle Neatsfoot WILL ruin it because you're never supposed to use any oils on a synthetic.
I have used Neatsfeet oil on my leather for over 25 years. It can make your tack a shade darker. Unlike some of the cool new stuff, however, you need to be a little more careful using it. Your tack can be wet or dry--unlike when you use mink oil on your boots, bc then the leather MUST be dry, lest you seal in moisture, too. Usually I soak my tack when I oil with neatsfoot, then I give it a few days to dry. Once your leather has soaked all it will take, the rest will just sit there--some people don't like that. Others insist that Neatsfoot oil used often will rot out your stitching. I'm not sure about that, but your should be aware of it.
However, IMHO, it's good to keep some around. I like using it on older tack that's been ignored for awhile. It's fun to watch the leather soaking it up like a sponge.
If I'm not mistaken, it's the Neatsfoot compound that is a problem. About rotting stitches, that had to do with a lot of over oiling and when saddles were made with cotton thread rather then the nylon thread they've been using for over 30 years now which can't rot. It's just one of those things that everyone remembers but is no longer relevant.
The saddle is real leather, not synthetic (it's the Collegiate Convertible Senior Event saddle). I have no clue why the Neatsfoot did that to it, but it was no good :-( Maybe I used too much and the rest just sat on top and formed a hard sticky layer and that's why? Who knows, either way I LOVE black rock but doesn't do anything for darkening, just conditioning (which reminds me I need to condition my bridles they're getting kinda dried out uggghhh)...
iride you mentioned "preparing the saddle for dyeing"...what do you do to prepare it? I didn't do anything other than clean it with Leather New foam cleanser beforehand.
I don't know what to tell you HITS, as I've never had a problem with Neatsfoot on any leather saddle. Maybe your saddle has a waxy coating on it that's making it unable to absorb the oil? Some new saddles come 'sealed', so that may be what's happening with yours and why it won't soak up the oil.
You need to get the oils out it or the dye isn't going to take. When I do a headstall or reins, I go over them with alcohol several time to clean up any conditioner or oil that is on the leather. After it dries, I'll use the dye and it seems to take up the color quite readily. I may have to give it two coats to get the depth of color I want, then I'll let it sit over night and condition it the next day.
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