A couple of months ago I decided to get back into Western riding. This meant I needed to find an affordable western saddle. And bridle, and saddle pad, and, and and…..
And I did find a saddle. It’s a Billy Cook barrel racing saddle, and it was just what I wanted. But when I got the saddle, I could tell it was in need of some severe conditioning.
The leather was SO dry. Thirsty is the best word that comes to mind. It was also missing the billet and off billet. But thankfully, it did come with the back cinch.
But before I get into the process of actually restoring the saddle, let me show you what it looked like when I pulled it out of the box….
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Finding A Good Deal
I started my saddle search on eBay. I love eBay. And as I have shared before, I sell things on eBay so I can buy new things. I look at it like recycling money. The more stuff I sell, the more money I have for something I really want.
Adding stuff for sale on our eBay account does take a little time, but it is so worth it in the end. Especially when I am able to buy what I want without touching bank account money.
Case in point, this all started because I wanted a drone. And not just any drone, a DJI Mavic Mini drone.
After doing a lot of research, I found this drone to be the best for what I wanted to use it for. And then after that, I decided to see if I could earn enough money for a saddle. And it worked. Before long I had enough saved up to buy a western saddle.
The one I really wanted was $3000.00. And that was just too much. So I settled on a used trophy saddle.
And actually I didn’t find it on eBay. It was on Facebook Marketplace. I have only bought one other thing on Facebook, it was my dressage saddle. And while it’s fairly easy to find things to buy on Marketplace, you don’t really have a way to see how experienced the sellers are.
But thankfully it all worked out, and a week later I had my new saddle.
Bringing A Saddle Back To Life
When I opened up the box, I was so excited to see the saddle. It has rough out on the fenders, which is something I have always admired. The rough out is nice, because it has some ‘stick’ to it. This way it helps to keep you in the saddle a little better. The last thing I want to do is be sliding around when my horse spooks out on the trail.
But the rough out on this saddle…….
Well, it had been worn down smooth, so not much stick. So the first thing I needed to do was research how to make rough out rough again. And it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Actually, it was a very easy process.
Restoring Rough Out Leather
The trick to getting the leather rough again is, roughing it up. And a really easy way to do this is by using a small stainless steel brush, like this one:
And then I simply rubbed the leather with the brush. At first I was really timid, and afraid that I was going to do some damage. But after I saw the results, I had no problem continuing. The end results were far better than I thought they would be!
Feeding Thirsty Leather
And after my level of confidence was boosted with the positive results of the rough out leather, I decided to tackle the rest of the saddle. The lady I bought it from cleaned it before she sent it. But there was still some pretty ground in dirt. And what looked like remnants of bird droppings.
So I tried to clean it. And I admit, I was lazy. I resorted to my tried and true favorite for cleaning my English tack, Ledercombi (Or Leather-Combi). Unfortunately, the leather was just too dry. It soaked up the product before I could even work it.
I had to get something different that was more made for neglected leather. And then I found Leather New. I had heard of it, and even used it a really long time ago.
It’s a liquid glycerin saddle soap that you spray on leather, and then rub in, and wipe off. No water needed. They also make a foam version of this saddle soap as well.
Bringing A Saddle Back To Life
And after the leather was clean(er), and dry, I started feeding the leather with different oils. Again, I started using what I already had.
And the first thing I thought of was the Hydrophane Leather Dressing. This stuff is not cheap, but it works. I ended up using the rest of the container that I had.
And while I tried to apply it with a rag, I learned it was much easier to apply it with a toothbrush. This way the oil would stick to the bristles, and get more oil on the leather.
And even after using the remaining Hydrophane I had, the leather was still dry. So I had to get more oil, and I decided on Leather New Deep Conditioner. I mean the saddle soap worked really well, so I figured I would try out the deep conditioner and see how well that worked too. And It worked really well! This is the best revival product for leather I have ever used. The saddle was neglected and dry as a proverbial bone. I bought a bottle of Leather Renew and generously applied it to the thirsty leather. It immediately soaked up the oil and like a miracle, my saddle is now supple and strong again. I am so happy I found this fantastic oil conditioner and how well it worked to restore the condition of the leather.
Adding The Extras
Then I just had to get an off billet, and billet strap, which Amazon had the best prices believe it or not and shipped the fastest. I was able to get a Weaver Leather latigo strap (the long leather strap) and a Weaver Leather off billet from Amazon.
And then I wanted new stirrups, and I found these Showman brand stirrups also at Amazon.
I am very happy with how my saddle turned out. And even happier that I had the time to get it done now, before the weather gets nice. Just like I shared in an earlier post about coming up with a plan BEFORE the summer comes. Because I want to have everything in order now, so that when the weather is nice I can be riding, and not planning on riding. Does that make sense?
Bringing A Saddle Back To Life
Do you have a saddle, or some tack that could use a little love? If you do, I think you would be very happy with the results you would get from any of the products I have mentioned here.
I think the biggest difference though is to see the saddle before and after. What a difference! And if you are curious to see the entire process, the video above shows everything I did to get my saddle to where it is now.