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Myth Buster: Do freeze damage saddlery?


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#1 pella

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 09:53 AM

Hello,
a friend as me that question, it look like is is a popular idea that leaving your saddle out in a barn non-heated could damage the leather, that it will crack leather.

I believe that is a myth and not true, but what is your opinon? here, it freeze -30degree celcius very cold.

I think the only thing that will crack (let say not too old) leather is negligence and folding a piece of dry leather (or new un-broken-in leather) or cheap leather.

#2 David Genadek

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:43 AM

In my opinion it will reduce the life of the saddle. It is skin what would happen to your skin if you froze it and defrosted it a bunch of times? We have a climate controlled tack room. If you can't afford that then I reccomend to keep your tack in the house.
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#3 pella

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:53 AM

In wich way it would reduce life? By drying it faster? It do not really froze and defroze, it just keep frozen all winter...and defroze in spring (well yes, in term of year, that mean froze and defroze) Anyway, when someone bring is saddle out to go trail riding, the leather froze by the time he ride. But i say freeze, but is leather really freezing? Unless it contain water, i dont see how it can be bad?

Do you really believe that's bad? We need to keep the saddlery in over freezing point piece?

#4 mulefool

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 11:37 AM

I can't imagine it would be good for it. But I don't have any actual information to prove that. Maybe you could do your own experiment. Cut a piece of leather in half and keep freezing and unfreezing half of it. Then compare them for suppleness, cracking, etc.
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#5 pella

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 09:07 AM

No more opinion?

I still think thats not true. I think heat is worst than freeze (unless leather is water logged maybe)
I'll keep freeze and defreeze a little piece of leather in my frozer ;-)
I'll let you know if i notice a change on the leather

#6 Doug Mclean

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 10:23 AM

Coming from a cold climate. I can tell you I have worked on saddles from some of the old time makers that never saw the inside of a heated tack room and with a little care they last for ever. Lack of care is what causes leather to break down or the fact that it wasn't anygood in the first place.
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#7 waddy

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 10:42 AM

Remember that saddles are used hard all winter long without benefit of a heated tack room. They have been for more than a hundred years, and what ones are not just plain worn out, or destroyed from lack of a little oil and cleaning once in awhile, are still in good shape. Granted, it would be wonderful to have a heated tack room where you didn't have to light matches under your bit to keep it from freezing to your horses mouth, and the seat of your saddle didn't freeze your butt for an hour, but that's the way it is more often than not. So no, leaving a saddle in an unheated tack room won't hurt it.
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#8 David Genadek

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 11:53 AM

I agree that it is lack of care that eventually dry rots the leather. However, when leather gets cold you can see the spew come out which tells you the cold is sucking the life out of the leather. I live in Minnesota and we have major temperature extremes and frankly I don't know of anything that that does not require more maintenance because of the cold. If it requires more maintenance then that is proof that the temperature is affecting the life of whatever it is. It is also true that heat will do the same. You will have less maintenance if you keep it in a climate controlled environment. True if you maintain it, it will still have a long life. How many average horse owners will properly maintain their equipment? My experience is very few.

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#9 pella

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 12:53 PM

I never notice spew coming out from leather because of cold. I will look for that.

#10 Rod and Denise Nikkel

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 02:49 PM

There is a whole science devoted to how to best preserve ancient artifacts, including parchment. Museums not only store them in special cases with precisely controlled temperature and humidity, but also, I believe, with a specific gas composition within the case. So for absolute, maximal preservation, everything is maintained perfectly with no variations.

Now let's get practical. Horse gear will be used outside in below freezing temperatures, as it has been for hundreds of years. If the leather wouldn't stand up to it, it would be made with something else by now. And which is harder on the saddle going from 70 F to 0 F then back to 70 F, or staying at a more constant temperature, even if it is below freezing? When you bring something inside from very cold temperatures the first thing that happens is that you get all kind of condensation on it from the temperature change. (Fogged up glasses for example.) You are better off leaving a cold saddle in the cold tack room. We have experienced 50 below with no ill effect to our saddles at all.

For people not used to living with cold temperatures for a long period of time, I can see this being a question to be answered. For those of us who do, it's almost a no-brainer. "Of course not!" On the other hand, that old thread on dealing with mold on saddles was an eye-opener for us. Not a problem when you live where there is basically no moisture in the air. Different experiences, different knowledge. That is why this place is so great. You get to learn a lot without having to learn it the hard way!

Edited by Rod and Denise Nikkel, 19 January 2008 - 02:50 PM.

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#11 HorsehairBraider

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 04:10 PM

My favorite saddle is now officially 100 years old. Now, there have been times in the 35 years I have owned it that it stayed in the house. But usually, it stayed outside in the tack room and it gets pretty freaking cold out there. That saddle is still just as useable as it was the day it was made.

Now, of course once a year (at LEAST) I get it out, dismantle it, clean and oil it thoroughly. But I know for a fact that did not happen to it for some time before I got it, because I knew one of the former owners and they just threw it on the ground in the dirt and never took care of it. The first time I "met" that saddle it was to replace some sheepskin that was in such bad shape you could hardly tell it was sheepskin. I also did some other work on it, and finally offered to buy it. It worked out great... the seat is an 11 1/2" and he did not have an 11 1/2" butt so he was happy to sell it to me even though it was a cool saddle. (It's a McClellan.) I've had the same experience with other really old "worn-out" tack that I have revitalized by simply taking care of it. What a concept.

Most of my friends take pretty good care of their tack. Not one of them has a climate-controlled tack room although there is no denying that would be SO cool... or if you had the room, to keep it in the house. That said, if I am going to be driving, I bring my harness in the house for at least overnight. What a difference in harnessing! It goes much easier. Keeping it in the house would be ideal, but I for one just don't have the room (or else I have too much tack, guess what Mr. HorsehairBraider thinks is the case? :D) So all I can say is, clean and oil your tack regularly!
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#12 pella

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 04:10 PM

Rod and denise: you reply make so much sense for me. After reading, i finaly believe it is best to keep gear at same temperature than were you ride, for me thats the best, and i never notice damage from cold till now. About mold problem, here it is terrible, i use to place a big pure wool blanket on my saddle, it keep humidity away from leather, also important not to place anything to close from ground.

thanks everybody

#13 David Genadek

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 05:38 PM

In Minnesota we feed our horses lots of hay in the winter so they can stay warm. If you have ridden a horse in the winter you realize they put off a lot heat. Following the logic that you should keep things an even temperature, would go to the side of keeping the tack inside and warm. How many of you would like an ice cube stuck on your back? Or a ice cube stuck on your face?
How many of you warm your car up before you drive it? Does the cold oil make it easier to start or harder? I now have a heated garage too and I will tell you I am haveing a lot less vehicle trouble. Isn't there oil in the leather? If the oil doesn't perform a function why do we oil it? How can it perform that function in freezing temperatures? Granted the horse will warm everything up and even get it wet. If your saddle blanket gets all sweaty do you just let it freeze until next time you use it?
David Genadek
currently at a wind chill of 35 below

#14 JRedding

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 07:24 PM

If cold weather ruined saddles all mine would have seen their last about a month ago. I've learned though that cold frozen rig David talks about serves a purpose , you can find out how broke your horse really is. If he don't hump up with that he's goin' pretty good. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if the cold would destroy one it sure would be good for business.

#15 David Genadek

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 10:03 PM

I'm not saying it will ruin them I'm saying they will require more care to get them to last as long. So if you have a choice keep them in a better enviroment. If you don't have the choice then make sure you do the proper care. We all choose the standards in which we live our lives.
Around here we don't break horses we fix them.
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