Help with conditioning western saddle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-18-2019, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Help with conditioning western saddle

I have an old Red Ranger saddle that I’m hoping to make work for my grandson. It’s a decent fit but the skirt or jockey sections are stiff and don’t lay flat- they stick out and rub on his leg. Probably it was stored laying too flat at one time. Can I soak it in water and form it to lay down? Any ideas appreciated!! 116B804C-CC3F-4D71-825F-F827F73E2977_1563492920758.jpg tried to attach pics. Not sure if they came over.
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-18-2019, 09:36 PM
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Contrary to popular belief, WATER does not harm a saddle. LACK OF WATER is what harms saddles. I would hose the saddle down very good and give it a deep cleaning - any dirt or hair caught in the creases of the saddle will make it harder to oil. After it's been deep cleaned, I would take neatsfoot oil - PURE neatsfoot, not neatsfoot compound - and really go after it. Apply multiple coats of oil repeatedly, until it takes 20 minutes or so to absorb, and store the saddle as it should be so that everything lays down a bit. I suggest you do this outside, in the sun, to open up the pores of the leather and enable it to absorb more oil. A very old, dry saddle may require a very large amount of oil to become supple again, and the really bad ones can never be restored to full suppleness, but you can definitely make them a heck of a lot better.

Good luck!!

-- Kai
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post #3 of 4 Old 07-18-2019, 10:37 PM
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I agree with most of what was suggested...
Clean well as this will open leather pores to accept nourishing nutrients in the cleansing soap and oil.
Just cleaning with quality saddle soap or glycerine bar will make a big difference in pliability of the saddle.
Water on leather will not hurt it as was said.
I soaked my western saddle fenders from the un-fnished un-tooled side when we needed to turn them, placed a broomstick to hold the twist and let the leather air dry in the shade...repeat several times till when you release the broomstick the stirrups maintained the look desired...
Do the same idea to those skirts to flatten them down...you will probably need to soak where you can so front, outside seen is where you will also need to apply
Pad the skirts and strap them down in place, or weight the leather to get back the shape you desire as the leather finishes drying and learning its new position to hold.

Apply several coats of pure neatsfoot oil but do not soak the leather...apply light coats and let soak in between applications.
After oiling and the leather no longer absorbs, wipe the excess off the leather gently...
Buff with a soft cloth for added luster to come out and shine with health restored.
If the seat is suede do not oil it but use a short bristled brass brush or a suede brush found in some shoe departments to raise the saddle seat nap...if stitched be cautious you not pull the stitching loose or break them.
Then you need to lay the leather down again, pad and secure it in the shape it must retain...
To secure I've seen soft nylon ratcheting straps applied after blanket/pad were put in place, then straps and tighten so it is held in place.

I was told not to put in sun but let water or oil soak in in shaded atmosphere but warm conditions like summer warmth/heat is fine.
Rapid evaporation is not the best for leather...slow, steady absorption was the way to proceed.
Never tried this in the sun, ever...always in shaded area.

Do not soak the leather with excessive oil...old stitching can break very easily when over-oiled so be very careful.. hence several light layers applied not saturate the leather may be the safer way on a old saddle to proceed.
Good luck and pictures of that finished beauty when project completed...even dry the leather has a quality patina to it.


WELCOME to the Forum!!

...
jmo...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #4 of 4 Old 07-19-2019, 08:41 AM
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I know a lot of folks like Neatsfoot Oil, not me. For general conditioning I like Passier Lederbalsam or Leather Honey. When Hurricane Harvey flooded our place, including my saddles I got them back into condition using Kali Leather Life Protein Lotion. This is the best I have found, it cleans and conditions without leaving an oily residue.
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