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How do you get a nice shine on your leather harness?

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  • How do you get a nice shine on your leather harness?

    I was reading a thread about getting tall show boots nice and shiny, and people were recommending kiwi shoe polish. Does anyone have any other tips for getting a nice shine on your leather harness?

  • #2
    Originally posted by MorganGal13 View Post
    I was reading a thread about getting tall show boots nice and shiny, and people were recommending kiwi shoe polish. Does anyone have any other tips for getting a nice shine on your leather harness?
    Yes. Switch to biothane.

    **Ok. I'm joking. Sort of. Leather has fallen out of favor with virtually everyone but the fancy Hackney folks. An FEI level dressage driver laid over at our barn coming up from FL. Based on their harness boxes, I'm almost positive even they had biothane harnesses, too.

    Leather is hard to keep supple and conditioned unless you have a dipping tank like Amish harness shops have. And if you have a spotted harness the oil makes the spots dull. It's so heavy as well. I had a leather set that came with my Belgians. Each harness weighed more than I do. Places like Anheiser Busch use pulley systems because leather parade harnesses weight like 200 lbs and are too heavy for men to lift up onto horses that tall. **

    That said, my horse's black dressage bridle has a slight shine and comes up lovely with Effax leather products. Especially the waterless cleaner. They may actually make a product for high shine leather goods because it's not uncommon for dressage bridles to be such.


    • #3
      Strongly advise AGAINST EVER dipping a carriage driving harness!! Leather is never the same. You ruin the saddle stuffing soaking it with oil! Over-saturation of the cells in leather breaks them down. Certainly not good for any patent leather on the harness. And lastly, that oil gets on EVERYTHING for a long time to come. I personally, hate the mushy feel of dipped leather. It is an old-time (and modern) shortcut to cleaning a harness properly, which is a lot of work, time consuming. Many modern harness will have nylon stitching deteriorate after dipping because the nylon threads reacts to the oil, where old linen threads did not.

      To get a good shine, the leather harness needs to be clean first. Dirt and salt removed. This involves taking harness completely apart so you can do both sides of all the straps, buckle tongues and cleaning the metal, brass or stainless, then polishing the metals. Protect the leather from the metals polishing products, not good for the leather. Probably good to get plastic or rubber gloves for cleaning, not real good for your skin either and it can stain your hands.

      I check for rub marks, black color fade from use or sun, put harness blacking on those places. Wear gloves for that, stains last a loooonng time! Ha ha Then I apply conditioner, let dry and polish the leather with clean rags. Try to rub hard to generate heat, that seems to help, just the warmth. Not hot, just starting to warm up. Polish by rubbing until you like the shine. No good shortcuts to that I have found! I NEVER black the inside of harness because "it may leave marks". Had a new harness stain our old yellow horses after sweating under it. They wore the black marks all winter until hair shed off!! Kind of a diagram of how to harness your horse! Ha ha

      I have used Lexol cleaner for getting off sweat, dirt, on all our harness.

      I also use Lexol Conditioner on our harnesses, saddles, been very happy with the look and feel of leather after. Lexol conditioner may need a couple coats, with drying time between applications. Do both sides of leathers. Lexol will also soften your hands, remove callus if you need them for work! Good for black or russet, light color leather.

      I also use Leather Honey (only on black leather, not ever on Patent leather) on harness. The Honey is sticky but does an excellent job softening and restoring black leather. Usually only need one application on cared for leathers. Let it soak in and dry before rubbing it to shine. It is easy on my skin, does not remove callus, but does need Dawn dish soap to clean off my hands.

      I have heard the black saddle soap does a nice cleaning job too, plus black helps cover rub marks on leather. Freedman Harness carries it, not sure where else it is sold. Then you rub hard enough to warm the leather to get the shine up. I am not a saddle soap person, don't care for the sticky feel and dirt sticks too.

      I won a can of Pessoa Lederbalsm once, that is great stuff, just pricy for our volume of harness. Great shine, get the soft feel on dry leather quickly, by rubbing it in.

      Pack your clean leather harness away, use newspaper around the brass to keep it shiny, maybe need only a touch-up at the show. Wipe harness with clean wet rag after taking it off horse, let dry, then pack away to stay clean between uses. Do NOT let anyone touch your brass without cotton gloves on. Judges might touch it, some just do. Skin oil touches are hard to shine up.

      Synthetic harness has its place, but does not wear or conform to a horse like leather. Never feels as nice as leather either! Ha ha But both kinds of harness are useful, have many good things going for them. Pick what best suits your uses, maybe one of each.