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Hi there! I just got a magical custom leather saddle, and I'm wondering if I should do anything to protect and maintain it. I've always been super lazy because I've used synthetic saddles in the past and don't often use a bridle. But now I want to make sure the leather stays healthy because I'm not going to have another $3K any time soon!

I'm reading a lot of conflicting information about what you should do and not do to leather saddles, so I'm hoping some of you fellow Pacific Northwesterners can share what works on your tack.

Should I condition it now while it's new? Wait until it's broken in? Clean it? Oil? Cream? My only preference is not to use something that's going to significantly darken the leather because it matches my ginger boy so well as it is.

(yes, my pad is hairy and sitting too far back)
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I live in the PNW and I made harness professionally for 14 years. Halfway into that 14 years I switched from leather harness to making synthetic (synthetic harness was a novelty back then). Anyway, that tells you something about tack in the PNW! LOL!



Anyway, there is a product out there that became extremely popular in the driving world. At the time it was called Harness Honey, but the name was changed to Leather Honey. It is clear, fairly odorless and has the consistency of honey. It is very good for waterproofing leather items, and helps hold mold at bay. I have a leather/Cordura saddle that I absolutely slather with Leather Honey (it's a dark saddle, though) and a spanky new pair of tall boots that I absolutely adore - they came waterproof but they inhale Leather Honey. The boots are also dark brown.


I recently made my husband a leather belt out of light tan leather somewhat similar to your saddle and drowned it in Leather Honey. It is now a rich brown. It was blotchy for awhile, but the color evened out beautifully.



It WILL darken leather.


What is the saddle maker's recommendation?



As you gather suggestions, you might consider applying products to less valuable items to see how they affect the leather.
 

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Has that saddle never been oiled? I mean, usually, when you buy them, they've been professionally oiled at least once.



I think having it darken some is unavoidable. If you keep it in a heated space, it won't mold. But, in any case, I've read that a saddle that molds is one that at least demonstrates sufficient moisture content, verses one that is too dry to even get moldy in the dank , dark days of winter.


I'm a PNW gal, so I know what you are talking about. I dread those months of darkness and dampness. I guess it's the price we pay for nearly bug-free, low humidity, only occasionally hot summer days.
 

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Winter isn't a problem for leather here, but summer is, because it is both warm and humid. Two summers ago everything in my tack room made of leather turned white with mold. Last summer I was smarter and bought a very small dehumidifier. It kept the humidity just low enough to prevent mold. I recommend something like that.
 

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That's a gorgeous saddle! I would ask what the saddle maker recommends, because they might have a preference based on the leather they use.



Living in Arizona I use mainly neatsfoot oil (pure, not the compound) but it WILL darken leather and sometimes leaves it blotchy until it evens out. I have never, ever seen leather mold in this state at all. Sounds gross!
 

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That's a gorgeous saddle! I would ask what the saddle maker recommends, because they might have a preference based on the leather they use.



Living in Arizona I use mainly neatsfoot oil (pure, not the compound) but it WILL darken leather and sometimes leaves it blotchy until it evens out. I have never, ever seen leather mold in this state at all. Sounds gross!
Nothing molds in a desert. I prefer green grass to sand and rocks, and that's why I also have to deal with mold. The only place that has a perfect climate is heaven.
 

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Nothing molds in a desert. I prefer green grass to sand and rocks, and that's why I also have to deal with mold. The only place that has a perfect climate is heaven.

I live in a desert because I was born here and seem to be stuck here, not by choice. I would love to live some place it actually rains now and then! Grass......what's grass!? Pasture......never heard of it. :smile:
 

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:cool:How about plain old saddlesoap or Leather New? I have never known it to darken leather. Color coordination is very important. :cool:
 

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I live in a desert because I was born here and seem to be stuck here, not by choice. I would love to live some place it actually rains now and then! Grass......what's grass!? Pasture......never heard of it. :smile:
Don't give up! It only took me 60 years to leave the West.
 

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NW Oregon here. Leather comes inside. My computer desk sits between two saddle stands. The leather saddles are warm and dry...as am I!
 

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We have hot and humid summers here in central Texas, but my tack has never molded (yet). The barn where I store it is open on two sides -- I wonder if that's why? It's basically just a big covered shed. Maybe somehow the air circulation helps?
 

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We have hot and humid summers here in central Texas, but my tack has never molded (yet). The barn where I store it is open on two sides -- I wonder if that's why? It's basically just a big covered shed. Maybe somehow the air circulation helps?

I'm sure it's the air circulation.......but you don't have a problem with mice chewing your tack?
 

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I'm sure it's the air circulation.......but you don't have a problem with mice chewing your tack?
One saddle pad got a hole in it, but so far nothing else. We definitely have mice back there -- I found a dead one on top of my towel. :eek_color:
 

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I also bring my saddles home and keep them either in the insulated garage or the house.
There is just no way to keep leather from molding at the barn in the PNW unless you have a heated, insulated tack room.
I'll usually keep one or two leather bridles at the barn but I watch for mold and wipe them down a lot.

My leather conditioner of choice is stubben hamonol. It is thick and you apply it by hand or with a sponge. I use it every several months. In between I wipe down my saddles with plain water on a damp cloth to remove dirt after rides. A saddle with dry, stiff leather will get soft and supple after the stubben conditioner. Passier conditioner is my second choice.
 
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