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.
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
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...