SukiSue

Light Oil Saddle Repair

14 posts in this topic

Hi, I've been spending a couple hours reading this forum and have already learned quite a lot from you here. But when I search, I haven't found anything that would answer the question I have.

I have a 10 year old light oil show saddle that is getting dark in areas now. I see a lot of people are dying their saddles black now because of this and I really do like the light better...

My question is, has anyone had any luck getting the dark areas off the leather? It has always been stored in a bag, but I suppose the outdoor shows are enough exposure to darken the leather. Or maybe my black chaps have been rubbing color off, since the darkest areas are on the fenders. I've tried a couple different non darkening cleaners and nothing has worked so far. The dark areas remain...

So I've been thinking, would it be possible to just sand off the dark areas and refinish? Like we can do with wood? Would the leather be new and light down under a layer? It's a production Circle Y and not hand tooled or anything and i don't mind if the tooling got a little faint in the process. Has anyone ever experimented with scrap pieces of leather to see if it works? If it does, I think a person could make a lot of money restoring light oil show saddles to their old glory!

If sanding won;t work, I'll have to try the Vinegaroon I've been reading about here and make it black.

Thanks for any ideas or suggestions!

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I would leave it alone and for sure wouldn't dye it black. In my experience a black saddle is really hard to sell and i used to buy sell and trade on saddles all the time and would do my best not to trade for one. Nine times out of ten that i sold a black saddle it was to somebody that had gotten their first horse. People that have been around for a awhile won't buy them or they won't in my part of the country.

If it's just dark on the fenders your leg is probley going to cover that part anyway.

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I would leave it alone and for sure wouldn't dye it black. In my experience a black saddle is really hard to sell and i used to buy sell and trade on saddles all the time and would do my best not to trade for one. Nine times out of ten that i sold a black saddle it was to somebody that had gotten their first horse. People that have been around for a awhile won't buy them or they won't in my part of the country.

If it's just dark on the fenders your leg is probley going to cover that part anyway.

Thanks for your reply! That's the main part, the fenders, but it is dark in areas on the skirts too. Dying black is kind of the latest in Quarter horse shows. But most still have the light oil saddles, just that people have resorted to dying black in order to keep using those expensive saddles that get too dark. I'll attach a before and after pic of a saddle someone I know dyed black. She is charging 450.00 to dye saddles black and she has a waiting list!

But yes, I would prefer to keep it light oil. So if anyone knows of any tricks to get the light color back or if it would work to sand down dark areas on leather, let me know!

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The color thing is a fad IMO. I remember when dark brown was the rage in the show ring then it went to light oil. It's like when somebody famous a trainer, rodeo person or who ever wears a certain brand of jeans, shirt or rides a certain brand of saddle and wins a lot then everybody thinks they need the same thing and they will win.

I wouldn't sand your saddle because your going to ruin it i think. Now if it was ruff out you could more than likey get away with it but i wouldn't do it on a tooled saddle. Sounds to me like you need to get into the dyeing end. You would have enough money to buy a new saddle pretty quick at 450.00 a pop. But if you really want to make it black i would use dye. From what i've read you need to dip if you use vinegaroon ( i've never used it ) and that's going to mean you need to strip your saddle down to the tree reline the skirts, take the fork cover off and take the seat out put it back togeather and that's going to be a ton of work. Good luck in what ever you decide to do.

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Don't sand it unless you are looking for a suede like surface. Once you remove or scratch the grain side, you can't cover it up. You can't get a nice smooth finish again either. (Having said that, there are some people advertising surface repairs to upholstery leather. They spray or paint on a new grain surface. I wouldn't try it on a saddle.)

You could experiment with a deglazer to remove the wax etc. that is on the surface. Chances are the black stain will come off with it. Normal darkening from sun won't come off with deglazer. After it has been deglazed, you could use bleach (oxalic acid crystals) to lighten the leather. Then you need to see at that point if you need to add some dye to get the same overall tone. If you need to dye to even out the appearance, then take a look at air brushing. Then put a good finish on after all of that.

You need to experiment some, so pick a place that is not too obvious to try out these comments. If you are only showing the saddle while riding, that shouldn't be too hard to find a spot to play with. If you show the saddle by itself, I doubt you can find a place that is stained that would be hidden from normal view.

Or take it to a professional saddle shop to see what can be cleaned and refinished.

CTG

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There is nothing wrong with the coloring of your saddle. It is not stained or discolored. It is showing patina. As leather ages it tends to darken on wear spots ie. were you legs are rubbing. It looks great, and it shows that you have been riding it. There is no way to prevent leather from doing this. Period. Patina on a saddle is a a natural process that gives a saddle character and makes it looks good. I like to see older saddle come into my shop. Saddles that show that they have been ridden a lot of miles. It give them character. If everybody else in the show ring is doing it black, then be different. Stand out. Look better. That's my opinion.

Ross Brunk

Northern Range Cowboy Gear

Billings, MT

Edited by RWB

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I agree with Ross. Dance to your own tune, let the others follow you. My daughters and now granddaughters have shown for many years and have won bunches. They did it leading not following. Ross' comments hit the nail right on the head.

Bob

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Ditto to what Ross and Bob say. The only thing worse than this silly craze of trying to keep show saddles "in the pink" (light color) forever, is to dye them Black. Nothing ruins my day more than someone coming into the shop and wanting us to dye something BLACK. It has been our experience that if you want something black, build it out of black leather that came from the tanners black. Nothing will ruin a showmans day more than having their light colored pants stained by one of these saddle dye jobs. Good saddle leather looks better as it ages and this trend of trying to prevent it is pointless. I like the horse activities where a person riding a new saddle is looked on as a greenhorn.... Jeff

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Thank you, Northmount, for your reply. That's what I was looking for... what would happen if I sanded it, etc. Ok, I won't be doing that. And for giving ideas on what to try. I realize it will be an experiment, but it can't get much worse looking than it is now! I think I will try deglazing and bleaching and see what happens.

Thanks everyone else for your opinions! But my saddle really does look bad! It's not that it's turning a beautiful uniform golden color... it's staying very light in some areas and black in others and not just along the fender, but the skirts look blotchy with dark areas and are visible while I'm riding. I kind of liken it to if I have boots that I show in that are getting worn patchy areas, I have to do something about it. Replace or repair, but i can['t go in the show ring like that. I can't go around looking too shabby, it's an insult to the judge. They teach you that in 4H! Especially in Horsemanship classes. Part of the class is showmanship and turnout, both rider and horse.

This is my show saddle I'm asking about! It may be old, but it was only ridden in during shows and put away after use. Now my WORK saddle, that's another story! My reining saddle is light oil too, and that one I'm not so worried about. Just that this is a Western Pleasure one. That and Horsemanship are much more picky as far as turnout.

Horsewreck, you need to see more horse shows, the reiners, the cutters, ropers, everyone has new saddles! The barrel racers and rodeo people are probably the most gaudy of all with all the bling and colored saddles! lol The mounted shooters have all new rigs... they're just smart enough to go for a darker color in the first place!

Yes, showing in general is 100% fad, from the clothes to the saddle. I started back when we all had dark oil saddles and loved it. Then light oil came in the picture in the 90's and I hoped and prayed that was just a quick fad. 10 years later I bit the bullet and bought my light oil saddle and now I've had it 10 years or so! Problem is, a new one is 3000-on up in the upper teens and a poor person like me can't afford a new saddle anymore! So now I'm seeing the black . I could be a passing fad too, but I see all the big brands are pumping out new black saddles, so I guess in 10 years, I may follow suit! haha

But I really wasn't thinking of dying, but using the Vinegaroon. Does anyone know if that would ruin the silver? Maybe I'm posting this question in the wrong area?

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Just a passing thought. Since you keep the saddle in a bag, has it been moist and warm so you have mildew growing on it? If so, it may be able to be cleaned. There are threads here about cleaning up saddles and removing mildew and mold.

For vinageroon, leather is usually dipped in the sauce. Maybe worth a search here to see if anyone applies it like a typical dye with sheepskin wool, etc.

CTG

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If the saddle was put away in the bag while still moist from horse and rider sweat and not allowed to dry out first, I think there's a very good chance of mildew.

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For a better evaluation of your situation, you may want to post pictures of your own saddle. An over-all photo, and then set your camera to close-up (macro or the 'flower' symbol if so equipped) and get some good close-ups of the stain. Like from a few inches away. Blurry out of focus photos won't help, so keep shooting as close as you can until you get good, clean, sharp photos and then post them here.

Confuseus say, A bird in the hand is easier to identify, than the one hiding in the bush. Thats's not really how that goes. . .is it?!?!?:rolleyes:

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A light Circle Y barrel saddle came into my shop a few years back for minor repair and the finish made it look like it had been thro a war. Darker areas appeared where the finish had worn off. I considered buying it, deglazing and going with a dark oil antique look, but I wasn't prepared to pay her asking price.

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heres something for all to try on a scrap piece of saddle leather.lacquer [dunno bout acry;ic] leather let dry then dye [oil dye] let dry buff [no residue] then lac or acrylic finish.does great and is th only way i'll black dye anything eh !

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