Last month I purchased a very nice used County Stabilizer. I noticed the leather is very smooth and slick. Riding in full chaps (yes I know I'm old fashioned) it does fine, but today I rode in half chaps and the saddle was freakishly slickery. I am used to riding in a Tad saddle so the leather is naturally tackier. Any suggestions as to how I can change this? The saddle fits my horse very well so now I need to learn how to ride in it without sliding off.
"As you get older, the hardest thing about riding is the ground"- anonymous
Practice riding in it with the half chaps. I got a newer saddle last summer and while it was the same brand, model, and size I went from a saddle with suede knee rolls and textured leather to a saddle with smooth leather all around. At first I felt like everything was so slick that I was going to fly right off... after a few rides I got used to it and don't have that problem anymore.
Passier Leatherbalsam! Seriously it saved my slick seat. My trainer rode in my saddle one day and said "Holy cow you need to get something tacky on this so you don't slide right out." I looked on here and bought the Passier and would put it on about once a week and let it sit overnight. Now it's been a few months and I really only need to use it about every other week.
Doesn't GM always say to leave tack "out in the rain" in his column when he's noting that the tack looks new and therefore slippery?
I can well believe it.
New tack does have to be 'prepared' to be worked in, which is one of the reasons it's always difficult to trial brand new saddles and get an accurate idea as to whether they are suitable--they feel totally different from a saddle that is already broken in.
Is your saddle oiled? I would guess that most who aren't experienced at doing the job are timid about slathering 'stuff' all over a brand new saddle, and standing back while it soaks in, but they are wax-coated in the same way that strapwork (leathers, bridle parts, etc) is, so need the equivalent treatment to begin the break-in process, yet can't be 'dunked.'
I recommend that you do the following, working on separate parts of the saddle (seat, flaps, skirt, etc taking care you are "coloring" within the lines):
First, hot oil applied quickly and evenly with a rag (rub hard, and keep it moving so one area doesn't stain darker than another). Stand back and give it time to absorb. It WILL change color, and that's NOT a bad thing, that's just what leather does. You have to judge how many times to repeat this treatment, generally I find that higher quality leather requires less work at the outset.
Next, with a barely damp sponge, apply plain old glycerine bar soap...again, give it all some time to be fully absorbed into the leather....
If it's still not slightly "tacky" at this point following the above treatment, as an alternative to Saddle-Tite, a light spray of "the stuff in the orange can" should then take care of your problem completely...but you may find no need of it, and going forward, cleaning your saddle with as little water as possible and only glycerine soap will keep it in great shape.
[Note: Any of us old timers can tell you that if your tack is prepared and cared for properly, there is really no need for products like Saddle Tite and that orange can...(which isn't to say we don't keep both in our grooming boxes ) but if you do use them, buildup can be removed with a hot water/ammonia solution--this is the only reason I'd use ammonia on a saddle, though I routinely use it on other tack.]
P.S. that 'sticky stuff' whether Saddle Tite or the orange can is totally legal...and if you don't have any, just 'write' with a glycerine bar, like you are scribbling with a crayon all over the saddle flap (and your boots/chaps). Works GREAT. And when you clean your saddle later you can just rub it in with that barely damp sponge, no need to remove.
Modern tanning processes have made straight oil unnecessary, and its regular use can actually harm the leather by allowing the collagen fibers to stretch, which weakens the leather. If your saddle's slippery, regular use of a good commercial conditioner (which had the correct balance of oils/fats/waxes) should help. Passier Lederbalsam, Effax, Stubben Hamminol, Black Country Balsam ... the list goes on. I'd also caution you about riding in full-seats; some of the grippier materials can actually abrade the seat leather.
Last month I purchased a very nice used County Stabilizer. I noticed the leather is very smooth and slick.
- today I rode in half chaps and the saddle was freakishly slickery.
sounds like the Stabilizer we had on loan last summer - Hammanol helped; depending on how the saddle's been cleaned/conditioned, you may need to strip off waxy residues, then start your own conditioning process.
The slippage will improve as you learn to ride this saddle
(does it have any blocks?)
I have ridden in some slick saddles and cleaning with Effax Combi and a little sponge helps to add some tack (not a soap fan), and then conditioning (rub in with your hands) with Passier Lederbasalm adds amazing tack - won't make it calfskin, but makes it ridable.
Are you denying that changes have been legislated with respect to the tanning/curing & dyeing processes of leather
that leather available to saddle makers has changed
Saddle manufactures have a pretty accurate idea as to what leathers & glues are used in the manufacture of their saddles - I'd be inclined to follow their suggestions for product care ...
Have no idea whether anything inherent in the manufacturing process has changed drastically--I've just always assumed that good quality leather holds up over time when taken care of properly. There is surely more than one way to go about doing that. Mine is one way, yours might be another.
I am very well acquainted with three master saddlers (four, if I consider that "one" is a couple) who have all done work for me (repairs and custom work) and my tack care regimen has earned compliments from them all.
As their expertise is without peer (they ARE the peerage of saddlery, in fact) and they are universal in their approval of my very traditional tack cleaning and conditioning routine, I must confess that I've never bothered to jump on any of the tack-care product bandwagons.
It seems to be a given that whenever a new brand of saddle/tack appears, there will be a proprietary conditioning mixture that is recommended by the manufacturer, which comes with dire warnings that use of any other product will cause incredible damage. Honestly, as even the use of DW detergent didn't cause any harm, and did a good deal to help, I am firmly convinced that good leather is a very resilient material.
Though many other products (some mentioned here) are very nice to work with, and I have them in my tack cleaning cabinet, I've not ever needed to consistently restock my supply of much of anything besides ammonia, glycerine, and oil.
Thanks everyone for the tips! I have NEVER had this issue with a saddle. Oddly, the saddle is a 2006 yet looks fairly new. I have no idea what type of conditioner the previous owners used. Usually I clean with glycerine soap (allow to dry tacky), then apply hot oil, then follow up with Passier Lederbalsam. No such luck so far on this bad boy. If it did not fit my horse so well (not the easiest fit), I would not have kept it. It does have blocks and padded flaps THANK GOODNESS! I'm not generally a fan of blocks and padded flaps, however if this saddle did not have them, I would probably slide off at the trot. I have also used the Tad balm and left it on thick, however once it absorbed, the leather is back to super slick. I'll try oiling it with hot oil then lederbalsam. At this point, I am game for anything! M'Oconnor- I'm with you and go the old school route frequently. Murphy's oil soap to removed the coating and oil have been my old faithfuls for many years!
"As you get older, the hardest thing about riding is the ground"- anonymous