The most common question that I have received recently in my shop is “Are saddles and tack ruined after hurricane Harvey?
Many of us in Texas have been affected directly or have someone close to us that has been affected directly by hurricane Harvey and the effects will surely be felt for many months from now. I grew up on the Gulf Coast in Aransas Pass, TX so I am aware of the damage that hurricanes can cause but in my lifetime I have never seen this magnitude of damage in our state. I have so many friends and family along the South Texas Gulf Coast that are dealing with the aftermath of Harvey and are working hard to help others while trying to also assess the damage to their homes, barns, communities, livestock, and countless other recovery concerns.
In this article, I want to help you see if your saddles and tack are ruined after hurricane Harvey. Saddles and tack are surely some of the most treasured items that were damaged due to flooding and or damaged barns and saddle houses. As you begin to go through these areas and find your saddles and tack severely water damaged and possibly beginning to mold or mildew, the first instinct may be to put all this in the ruined pile and possibly claim them as part of items lost due to damage from the hurricane.
This may be the case in some instances, but there are some things that I want to discuss that may save some of those pieces of equipment so that you can continue using them. Although water damage is surely not good for leather in general, it does not always mean that they can not be salvaged. Continue reading →
In our last newsletter, I asked for any questions that I may could answer with a YouTube video to better serve you and we received some great questions.
In this video I answer a question from Chris on how to oil leather to a dark color without over saturating the leather. Oiling leather can be tricky and sometimes can take a good project in the wrong direction. These types of questions are so much easier to answer in a video rather than in a written format. I hope you find this video useful Chris, as well as anyone else who may be wondering the same thing.
If you would like to have your question answered on our YouTube Channel then send us an email with your question and put “YouTube Q&A” in the subject line. I would like to make this a regular series on our channel so bring on the questions and I will work to answer them for you.
Thanks so much and be sure to subscribe to our channel so you get the latest updates on new videos we post.
Are you wanting to bring life back into that old saddle or your favorite pair of boots? Are not getting the soft feel you are looking for by using just oil? There is a reason for that. Continue reading →
It’s March and we are still dealing with cold weather and many of us across the country are experiencing a fair amount of “winter mix” weather, but the fact is that winter is almost over and sunny days are soon to come. With that, now is a great time to take a sunday afternoon and go through your tack room. The majority of folks are fair weather horsemen and haven’t paid much attention to your saddle since before the holidays.
This is the time of year that our repair shop gets pretty busy and, depending on the repair, your normal wait on getting something fixed could be a couple weeks or better. Now is a great time to go through your saddles and check key areas that may need attention before your right in the middle of the season and your saddle is in the shop. Continue reading →
If you live in the south where humidity is high, you will run across mold on leather or some of your gear from time to time. This usually happens when you take a break from the horse world for a bit and keep your gear stored in a dark saddle house or in the tack compartment of your trailer when temperature and humidity are at their worst.
In my opinion, mold on leather is a good sign that your leather goods are healthy enough to support the life that is mold. By this I mean that you have done a great job of keeping your tack and saddles oiled up. Mold will not grow on saddles or leather that is dry rot and dead… nothing available for the mold spores to live on. Continue reading →
Having trouble getting to the tight areas when oiling that saddle in your tack room? Here’s a trick I have learned!
Pam makes a spray olive oil that, although maybe a little pricey, works great for those spots a big fat hand won’t fit! Since we oil all our leather products with good clean olive oil, this oil in a spray can is a great complement in our shop and takes a lot of pressure and worry from the hard to reach!
Try this out and let us know what you think!
I get this question a lot both at the shop and when we are out at events and trade shows. The most common time this question is asked is when a customer brings in a saddle for repair and the repair needed is so extensive due to the amount of dry rot. Here the customer will usually say, “I would of oiled it but I didn’t know what kind of oil to use.” To this I always answer, “Even the wrong oil would have helped more than what you did… which was nothing.”
I know, oiling your saddle and gear is not the most exciting thing to do on your weekends off, but neither is writing large checks for saddle repairs or worse yet visiting the ground suddenly when something finally breaks.
There are hundreds of saddle conditioners, cleaners, lubricators, creams, savs, liquids, and the like that make choosing the best product for your gear a tuff choice. Again, ALL of these will, in some way, help your leather retain its life better than nothing at all. And if you still don’t feel comfortable making a decision then there is always a shop like ours that would be happy to handle this for you.
For oil, we use Olive Oil. We buy it from a local grocery supply company by the case and use it on both new and used leather items. I have heard of many people using canola, peanut, vegetable, and other food oils and they seem to work fine. My only issue with the other oils is that it seems to me that they would attract rats worse than the olive oil. Neatsfoot oil is the old standby and is still widely used. There is nothing wrong with this but it seems to me that olive oil seems to oil more evenly than neatsfoot and the main reason that we use it in the shop.
When it comes to conditioners, I recommend Skidmore’s Leather Cream above all else. This cream is great for lubricating the fibers in the leather and restoring life to dry stiff leather. This product is made of all natural ingredients including vegetable oils and beeswax and will also water proof the leather. A little bit of this cream goes a long way so don’t over do it, multiple light coats is always better than one heavy coat. This product is also amazing on boots and hunting gear.
The one thing to remember with conditioning your saddles and tack is that putting oil and conditioners on top of dirty leather can damage the leather. In doing this over time, you create multiple layers of dirt and oil which becomes a thick film that is almost impossible to remove. I always recomend washing leather with a mild dish soap like Dawn, Ivory, or even Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsing thoroughly. Scrub the saddle with a medium bristle brush to lift the dirt and grime out of the leather. I don’t recommend saddle soap because it is suppose to be left on the saddle to dry and then the dirt stays on the leather. If you want to lather the saddle up with saddle soap after its cleaned, then that’s okay.
Always let your saddle dry completely (could take a day or two) before oiling and conditioning. If you oil too soon, you could get a real bad case of mold. I will talk more about mold and controlling it in a later post.
I know its hard to remember to oil your saddle and tack, but here is my suggestion on a system that may not make it such a big deal. Every time you worm your horses give all your tack and saddles a good look over and wipe them down with a light coat of oil. And when it comes to doing a complete washing and oiling, I recommend this once a year. This could be every time your coggins is due or at the end of your show season. And if you don’t want to go through the trouble of doing it yourself you can always drop it off at the saddle shop and we will do it for you.
Saddles generally get abused and thrown back in the saddle house or trailer till their next use. Many times and for most folks they get oiled little and washed even less. Dirt is a big problem for leather because it draws the oils out and dries the leather if left for extended periods of time. This leads to dryrott and damage that can lead to expensive repairs.
I recommend washing saddles and leather goods with a mild soap like Ivory dish soap or Murphy’s Oil Soap. Scrubbing this in with a soft brush and rinsing with warm water will get the dirt up and away from the leather. Once completely rinsed, set outside and allow to dry fully before conditioning leather with oil or leather conditioner. Not allowing the leather to dry fully can lead to mold growth.
It helps to take the saddle apart as far as you feel comfortable, this will allow you to get to the places that are hard to reach. A lot of saddle repairs are needed for the small, but important, parts that are underneath the main pieces of the saddle(rigging, connectors, stirrup leathers, etc).
Keep your saddle clean and maintained and you can save a lot of money on repairs. If all this sounds like too much work or just not your thing we would be happy to do this for you. We offer a complete Clean, Oil, and Polish in our shop as do many other saddle shops. I recommend this once a year with proper quaterly maintenance depending on use.