The TOP 5 ways you may be damaging your high end used saddle..
Over the years we have had many a used saddle come in. Some beautiful, some hideous and everything in between. Here are the top 5 ways you may be damaging your high end used saddle and you may not know it! These are their stories.. (dun dun dun).
5. Cantle Dings
Lets start off with something light and easy and obvious. Cantle dings.. we are all guilty... usually this happens from settings your saddle down on the ground and letting the back hit something hard.. next thing you know.. your poor saddle has this mark Prevention: Keep your cover ready. Put it on once the saddle is off then you can place your saddle wherever you like!
4. Piping Damage This happens.. When this happens..
Most damage happens to saddles when being handled not ridden. Oftentimes when you are tacking up to ride you may set a saddle down on the ground on a rough surface in the position in the photo on the right.. eventually over time the piping will roughen and can wear through if you don't stop.
Prevention: Unfortunately there will always be instances you can't be superwoman and have to put your saddle on the ground. Your saddle cover is your best friend. Keep it ready and on hand so if you do have to rest it on the ground it is covered to protect it. And if you can, the best place for a saddle is on its rack.. but.. on the RIGHT rack.. (see #3..)
3. The wrong saddle rack.. fence.. pipe.. etc.
Placing your saddle on a rack that is not supported by the panels can cause the leather underneath to stretch and form to the shape of the tree. People find it to look alarming but in actuality it is superficial but still best to have the saddle supported by the panels.
Prevention: Putting a thick half pad or saddle pads under your rack to help displace the weight can keep this from happening.
2. Boot Zippers..
This one gets a little technical but I see it all too often. Scratches on your flaps can be from a lot of things but usually it tends to be from boot zippers that are not pulled up all the way and covered. Especially when you ride without stirrups it can exacerbate the friction causing scratches to develop of the flaps.
Prevention: Always make sure your zippers are up all the way and laying flat!
1. Under Oiling/Over Oiling/Oiling at all
This one is tricky.. but the most common issue and pertains mostly to full calf or full buffalo leather. Think of your leather like living breathing skin.. (ewww) but in many ways it is. The leather used on most high end used saddles such as Butet, Antares etc.. is the best quality open pore full grain leather you can find. It comes from the top layer of the hide and includes all of the natural grains and oils. Long rides in the sun, dry air, etc can cause these oils to evaporate and they need to be replenished,
Prevention: Like your own skin.. if your skin is dry or you are in a dry climate and you don't moisturize, it will start to crack.. just like with your own skin you will notice under oiled/under conditioned saddles develop superficial cracking.
Prevention: Oil or deep condition. Sometimes if you catch it early enough you can recondition the leather and some of the cracks will fade.
On the contrary is over oiling. Over oiling can cause too much saturation and oil to come off on your clothes. etc. If you are in a humid state and store your saddle in a non temperature controlled environment this can also cause mold to develop more easily on a saddle that already has too much moisture.
Prevention: If you think you may have over oiled your saddle on a more dry non humid day set your saddle out in the sun to let it evaporate or give it a few days in a dry climate without oiling or conditioning to let it breathe. One of the best things you can do for your saddle is keep it in a non-humid temperature controlled environment.
Some brands use a thinner leather and recommend not oiling your saddle at all. The thinness of the leather causes the oil to be absorbed more rapidly and when those oils are absorbed and go through the top layer of leather deeper into the saddle the oil can cause the glue to wear down and the thinner calf/buffalo to separate from the more rigid grain leather supporting it.
Prevention: These saddles tend to show the most wear and are recommended to oil rarely if ever and best to condition sparingly and more often with a balm that sits on top of the leather and absorbs slower.
Hopefully this helps address some of the questions we get the most often. If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment or email and go give your saddle some love and a good cleaning today!