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Saddle Needs Lovin'

2008 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Ride4ever
Alright, I know I am putting the saddle before the horse (cart before the horse), but it was a great deal, I think. It is a wide English saddle, last used for a riding draft (18 hand lad). If it doesn't fit my someday horse, then I'll resell it. It didn't cost me much, and I am certain I can get what I paid for it, if it needs to go.

Long story short. I used to take English lessons as a preteen and teen. Then high school got the best of me, and I stopped. I'm now 24, have more time and a larger income (hah). So someday, a horse will become part of the family. But first I will need to lose (a lot) of weight so as not to squish the poor animal, take English lessons once again, and then start out by leasing.

So the saddle is a bit of a goal to work up. For when I am healthy enough to take riding lessons again, and someday have a bit of horseflesh under me that is mine and mine alone. I actually miss being around horses. I LIKED doing the grunt work that went along with them, like stall mucking, grooming, etc. as much as being on 'em. The plan on a draft/draft cross. I used to ride a Percheron cross named Belle, and boy, was she such a fantastic girl. An absolute sweetheart, bombproof, and an amazing flowing gait.

A bit about the saddle. It is a Rossi Y Caruso. No idea how old it is. The leather has a bit of wear and tear from use, and I have no idea how old it truly is. But it is sound. The stitching on every seam is perfect. I shoved and pulled on the tree both vertically and horizontally, with it not budging at all. No wrinkles or problems with any of the straps. In fact, the impressed me with how sound they are! And yes, I realize that it will be a 'beater'/beginner saddle. Someday I'll save up for a super special one, custom one to match the horse and rider perfectly.

The leather DOES need a little love. And I want to make sure I take care of it properly. And that is where ya'll have a lot more experience. I've taken care of leather before, but mostly shoes and a little bit of medieval leather armor I own. But boots are boots, and armor gets dusted, buffed with a horsehair brush, and given a little mink oil every now and again and it stays happy. A saddle is different, it has different needs. Too much oil, and it'll turn to mush, I hear. Too little, and well, it gets thirsty. I think it is thirsty right now, but I don't want to overquench it.

The light cracks (pictured) are what I worry about taking care of the most. I know that cowhide ain't coming to life ever again, so I know I must preserve it properly to stop the cracks from growing.

I've never used saddle soap on leather, as I've never had to clean more than a quick wipe down. But I think that is where I should start, to get to square one. Any tips/tricks? After, I was planning on using 100% mink oil on it (NO silicone in my mink oil, I hear it can cause leather to rot in the long run). And the knee roll appears to be suede. Can I oil that, or must I take care to do something else on the leather there? Suede is not in my range of experience, either.

FYI, the upload isn't working, so I am using photobucket links.

Rossi y Caruso identifier




Right side

Left side

One last thing, it came with a bridle. And I want to clean the bit (will likely just get rid of it if I can't get the rust spots off without intense cleaners). And the button snaps attaching the bit to the bridle are SO STUBBORN. In fact, I was twisting and pulling at the snaps for the longest time and could not get them to budge/open! I just want to run the bit through the dishwasher and give it thorough buffing.

Any way to get those darn snaps open? I can't tell because I haven't gotten them open/loose, but it could be that the inside of the snaps are rusted together. Could explain why it is so tough. The leather of the bridle is perfect, no signs of age or wear, so I don't want to just pitch it in the trash. I am thinking of just greasing up the area of the snaps with a ton of mink oil, and letting it 'soak' for a few hours or a day. Then hopefully they will open. Do you think this will work, or do you have any other ideas? I think the jaws of life might be a tad overkill...

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Very cool!

You might want to try some WD40 on the screws
I would use some wd-40 on those Chicago screws and then take your flat head screwdriver and hold on to the other side (or in the middle if you can get a pair of pliers between the two pieces of leather) with a pair of pliers so the whole thing doesn't turn while you are unscrewing them.

For the whole saddle, saddle soap should do good on it and the mink oil will be really good for the leather. You could also try some leather conditioner, but I think I would just use a couple products at a time so you don't over do it. Looks like a really nice saddle otherwise and should give you many years of good use :)
WD-40 got the screws loose. There was a lot of dirt and grime on 'em, so it helped lube them loose. They're cleaned off, and I tossed the bit in the dishwasher, maybe it'll look nicer once it goes through cycle.

With the saddle soap, I am guessing a little bit goes a long way. I just want to be careful!
The suede gets brushed well with a suede brush to clean and then spray suede conditioner gets lightly brushed in to oil and preserve.
That saddle doesn't look bad at all. After it is cleaned up it should still give you many years of use. I saddle soap then oil. Glad you finally got those Chicago screws open. I personally hate Chicago screws and always look for alternative fasteners. Personal choice.
I think it actually looks pretty good! My nearby saddle dealer told me when I bought my first saddle to really clean the saddle up well with soap, let it dry, then oil it really well and let it sit for 24hrs. I do that with all my saddles now and they all still look new. ;)
The cracks in the seat leather will need to be oiled regularly. That is a bad spot in the leather and unless you are a master saddler maker, they would not have cut that out, but that will need to be baby-ed a bit. The cracks won't go away, but you don't want them to dry out or they will get worse. Working around the barn is a great way to loose weight, plus you learn a lot about the horses, that has always been my first choice of weight loss plans. Have fun.
If the bit is rusty I wouldn't worry about it. I use 3 loose ring snaffles(what came on that bridle you posted) and they are all a bit rusty. My horse actually likes the taste of them.
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