Sport Horse Spotlight

received_2752639298077582

Real Estate Spotlight

Sale Spotlight

  • Welcome to the Chronicle Forums.
    Please complete your profile. The forums and the rest of www.chronofhorse.com has single sign-in, so your log in information for one will automatically work for the other. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Chronicle of the Horse.

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Breaking in a New Saddle - Anything I Should Know?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Breaking in a New Saddle - Anything I Should Know?

    My custom full grain leather Frank Baines just shipped yesterday (HUGE shoutout to them for taking on the challenge of building something for my tank and me!!) so it should be here in a week or so. Yay!

    I have never owned or ridden in a brand new saddle. I have always had/used well-used saddles that were obviously well broken-in.

    From what I understand it is recommended to break a saddle in myself, or have someone with my stirrup length assist in the process. This won't be an issue as it is for my own personal use, and pony will stay in the barn's Duett Rondo for his therapeutic students.

    I also know that Frank Baines has their own leather balm, but I believe they also recommend Effol products, but I haven't seen what specific Effol product is the equivalent of their own balm. I generally use a combination of Higher Standards soap/conditioner on my leather goods, with Passier Lederbalsam for really stiff/dry leather. I do use a beeswax based conditioner every couple weeks in the winter because our winters are extremely wet and the beeswax gives a bit of a waterproofing to the leather, but I'm not sure if I should use it on a new saddle until it is broken in?

    My saddle rack is a 10gal bucket with yoga mat wrapped around it for padding/grip, and I usually store my saddle with my Thinline trifecta under it for extra protection for the panels. I don't like to use the typical metal racks available locally because they seem to leave dents in all but the hardest panels.

    My saddle will have wool flocking in it. About how long after getting it should I have the flocking evaluated again? I know that fresh flocking packs/settles to the horse after a while and may need a bit of extra wool in places after that.

    I've got Gary Mundy leathers on order (but can't use them til Christmas. They're going under the tree from my grandparents, haha), and until then I have my well-loved old Crosby single-ply leathers. My irons are Reflex by Compositi, so while they aren't cheesegrater grips they do have hard nubbed plastic treads. Should I look at getting/making stirrup covers/socks for them to protect the saddle? I went with full grain leather instead of buffalo or calfskin, so it should theoretically be more durable and less prone to scratching.

    Anything I'm missing? Anything specific I should be doing? I'm a wee bit anxious about messing it up somehow!
    Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
    Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe
    FAQs

  • #2
    Congrats on the purchase! With brand new leather, you likely will want to oil it before riding to speed up your breaking-in process (then use your usual soaps/conditioners to maintain it.) Preferences differ, but lots of folks use plain olive oil or pure neatsfoot oil. Warm up the oil in the microwave before applying it, and try to apply it in several thin coats, letting them soak in before continuing (a sponge or clean paint brush will do fine.) When oiling it, you can also start working/rolling the flaps and billets to really work the oil into the centre of the leather, which should help it start to supple up before your first ride. This will also start to give you that nice burnished leather colour. Err on the side of a little less oil (i.e., you want it to still look matte/absorb the oil easily.) Personally I don't oil the seat, just condition it.

    Running up your stirrups after every ride (rather than flipping them over the seat) should be enough to prevent scratches on the flaps.

    Enjoy!

    Comment


    • #3
      Start mentally preparing yourself for your first scratch in the leather! Haha. That’s my only advice. Congrats on the purchase.

      Comment


      • #4
        When did you order it? I’m waiting for mine but apparently there was a hold up at the factory.

        Comment


        • #5
          I strongly advise against using olive oil on tack, not because it's bad for the leather (it's not) but because it's tasty to any hungry critters that happen upon it.

          Safer to stick with products like Effol that are made to condition leather and not to be eaten.

          (Does anyone remember Hooper's Saddle Food? It was made with purified beef tallow and made leather nice and soft. Also lots of barn pets ate lots of reins and saddle flaps and halters 'cause it made them so yummy.)

          Congrats on your new saddle! Don't panic if you sit on it and think OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE!!!!. It will break in, honest!

          If the flaps are really stiff, you can roll them (like rolling a piece of paper) by hand after applying conditioner. Roll them under as far as you can, then roll up as far as you can. Just once or twice will go a long way towards softening them up so they can mold to your legs.

          Comment


          • #6
            Nothing to add but yay it’s almost here!!!!

            P.
            A Wandering Albertan - NEW Africa travel blog!

            Comment


            • #7
              Honestly. with how much saddles cost I would call your people at Frank Baines back and ask them. They probably have a recommended break in process, and you’ll be less likely to void any warranty they offer by using their system. Congratulations on your new saddle!!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by bip View Post
                When did you order it? I’m waiting for mine but apparently there was a hold up at the factory.
                It's a bit complicated. I technically placed an order back in June for a Reflex or Elan (my rep wasn't 100% sure which would be better for pony's back since they have slightly different tree shapes, so we told FB that I am happy with either model for myself but needed their opinion on which was best for pony). There was a longer wait at that point, but I eventually heard in August that they weren't going to be able to make either model wide enough for his back (he is a literal tabletop, and not due to fat. He's just freakishly wide). In early September my local rep (who runs a tack store in my area) went to the Spoga trade show in Italy and went armed with photos and video of pony's back both standing and in motion, and of me riding him, and talked to FB in person. FB decided to take on the task of building us an entirely bespoke saddle, with a 10W (two sizes bigger than their widest tree) tree in their hoop shape. By the time my rep and I sent them a plaster mould of his back when she returned from Spoga, it was September 20th. Mould was received by the 28th, and they began production the 1st of October.

                This may have been when my original order had been slated to hit the workbench, or they may have expedited it after meeting with my rep, I'm not sure. But it was boxed up and on its way to be shipped on Friday.
                Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
                Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe
                FAQs

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks so much for the advice!

                  i do know I will eventually get scratches on it, that's just part of saddle ownership. I'm just paranoid that I'm going to mess something up because I've only ever had/used older saddles and most people I know in person own second hand saddles as well. Given the fact that I am on a very tight fixed income I can't afford to screw it up!
                  Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
                  Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe
                  FAQs

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Congratulations!

                    Your question is also good because you have a very traditional saddle--- great quality British leather. I have broken in many saddles made like yours and have had them last beautifully.

                    My technique and logic:

                    If you are unsure about keeping it/have the option, ride in it a bit before you oil it at all.

                    After that, I would use pure neatsfoot oil (not the compound which has petroleum products in it) and my bare hands. Oil every part of the saddle you can reach-- all surfaces, in the tight spots up under the stirrup jockeys and panels.

                    What you are doing by oiling is putting the natural fats removed from the skin during the tanning process back into the leather. IMO, it's really important to use an oil (and an oil of the right molecular size) so that you get that oil back into the heart of the leather. If you use conditioning products, I don't think you'll get that moisture deep enough into the body of the leather.

                    When oiling, you should apply a few light coats, rather than one drenching one. Each time, and on each type and side of the leather, watch for how fast the leather turns from shiny to matte as it absorbs the oil. At first, that will be very quick, especially so on the underside of the flaps or the fascia-side of the leather. With finer grained stuff to be found perhaps on the seat or knee rolls, the leather will already have more oil in it and that leather will absorb the neatsfoot more slowly.

                    All that means that when you oil your saddle and then put it up to rest/soak in the oil, you will notice which parts take longer than others. Come back and give another coat to the leathers and surfaces that seem more thirsty. Some people like to roll the flaps a bit while the oil is soaking in. You will see that help the oil disappear into the leather faster.

                    You can oil the underside of the bits that have both the outside- and fascia sides of the leather.

                    When you see that the saddle has stopped soaking up oil and the leather feels a bit bendy, more like a well-used saddle, you are ready to "seal it" a bit. Here, I use Murphy's Oil Soap or glycerine soap on a damp sponge. That create a bit of a protective, glycerine layer and that soft patina that we like on clean tack. Then you are good to go!

                    IME, you might clean, oil and condition (not just clean and condition) your newish saddle more in the first year than in the future. I think saddles are like babies: If you give them a good foundation in their infancy and feed them right (really getting oil back into the center of the leather), they will take a whole lot of abuse (even getting wet in the rain) later on.

                    I have not had a problem with varmints eating my tack (at all) and certainly not had them go for my tack because it was better cared-for than other leather at the buffet/tack room.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks mvp! That was a beautiful run-down!

                      I am absolutely thrilled to bits to be getting a classy piece of English leather craftsmanship. They suit my inner little old man to a T, haha.
                      Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
                      Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe
                      FAQs

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have broken in 3 new saddles. In the winter I put a strip heater in my small bathroom and run the temp up to about 80 degrees. I oil the saddle with Hydrophane oil and roll the flaps. I also use a little oil, let it sit, work the leather, little more oil, let it sit. I like to give the oil a chance to absorb before I roll it. I think having the saddle warm helps the oil absorb. For regular cleaning I use Higher Standards and occasionally condition with either Lederbalsam or Passier
                        Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          use a thin or no saddle pad as the heat/sweat from horse will also help break it in - a lot easier in the summer time than when it's cool. Give it a several thin coats of oil the first several days, Fortunately most of the new saddles seem to be pretty soft now so break in much easier/sooner. Ride ride ride.- and don't be afraid to ride in a little rain, that'll help break it in too. Shoot I remember ages ago my first new saddle - was stiff and slick - I use to take a hose to it before I rode, no saddle pad and plopped in on another horse in addition to mine to help break it in. Took awhile but it was so nice when it was done. loved that saddle.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My saddler forbade me from oiling....or using saddle soap. Only wants lederbalsam brushed into saddle and wiped off with dry cloth. This was/is SO HARD for me to do with a new custom saddle!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Arlomine View Post
                              My saddler forbade me from oiling....or using saddle soap. Only wants lederbalsam brushed into saddle and wiped off with dry cloth. This was/is SO HARD for me to do with a new custom saddle!
                              This is absolutely why you need to go right to the maker because many modern saddles are treated in such a way that they require particular care and products and oiling is definitely not a thing with many of these new saddles. It might seem absurd but decades of knowledge can end up meaning very little or even damaging leathers created and treated with new methods and tech.

                              Do ask Frank Baines about appropriate care.

                              Your saddle is also likely to be super soft leather and breaking in will be very very different from what many of us experienced "back in the day."
                              Let me apologize in advance.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Ceylon Star what a wild ride! Fingers crossed it does the trick.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  It arrived!!!! It's absolutely beyond perfect and I couldn't be happier! HUGE thank you to Frank Baines for going above and beyond.
                                  Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
                                  Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe
                                  FAQs

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    pHOTOS!!!!
                                    www.abacusfurniture.com

                                    Bit Chair: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNfIUYig...bacusfurniture

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Apparently my phone camera is wonky and won't take clear pictures anymore, but here are a few anyways.

                                      it is a bespoke all purpose based off of their long-retired Elite Jump. Full grain havana leather, 4 billets (point, rear balance, and 2 center), movable blocks, open 17.5 seat with a bit of extra width in the "pocket" and medium twist and nice low pommel, extra short (16") wool flocked panels, 10W hoop tree.

                                      It puts me in the perfect spot, the stirrup bars are forward enough to keep my hip angle good no matter my stirrup length, but not so far forward that I get chucked in a chair seat if I lengthen my stirrups on bad pain days.

                                      the leather is gorgeous and thick and "firm" but not nearly as stiff as I was expecting for what is usually a stiffer kind of leather. It's been getting a coat of conditioner on the underside of the flaps and "rough" side of the billets and billet guards when I walk past and feel the previous coat has soaked in, but I am not touching the softer leather of the panels/seat/knee patches for now. They're already buttery soft! Wasn't expecting them to be so soft. His program Duett, my old Santa Cruz, and my ancient Passier dressage saddle are all the same leather for the entire saddle, except for the suede knee patches on the Passier that have long since smoothed out.

                                      My rep said that her personal FB dressage saddle has not packed down at all in the 3 months she has had it, and she rides 5 to 6 times a week, so I'll just keep an eye on mine and see when I need it re-evaluated.

                                      First ride was last night in a lesson, and my coach LOVED how it fits me and how effective I was able to be in it vs my old Santa Cruz or the Schleese Remonte I had been borrowing for the last few weeks. I am able to keep my numb left leg still and in the right position at all gaits, something I never thought would be possible after my injury. The medium twist is just narrow enough for my leg to hang nicely but not so narrow that it sucks my thighs/groin closed which then forces my knees to pinch and my lower leg to swing and be painful and difficult to close (like in the Remonte).

                                      Pony loves it! It fits like a glove and is short enough for his compact back without putting my weight off the back edge of the panels. It ends well in front of his last rib, something only previously possible in tiny kids' saddles. He moves so much freer and rounder, to the point where I'm struggling to ride his already up-and-down canter because his round stretchiness is making him practically canter me out of the tack, haha! I think my 7 months of bareback has helped in the stickability department, haha!

                                      I am so so sooooo happy and grateful to Frank Baines for taking on the challenge.
                                      Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
                                      Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe
                                      FAQs

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Wow, that's a wide saddle indeed! I've seen my fair share of wide saddles around, and they've mostly been for or on cobs. That's really awesome that they made a saddle that is so suitable for you and your cob. It's great that Frank Baines was able to make something custom, proper, and with good service.

                                        I'm a rather clumsy individual prone to mishaps and I've found it diffult to accidentally scratch my new (well, now a little over a year old) soft leather saddle. I definitely second the notion of using only manufacturer recomended products. Some can be quite strict in respect to the warranty, and my newer dressage saddle is definitely of a different type/leather than my older ones. I was instructed to clean only with water and appropriate cloth or sponge, and use their specified conditioner. I've never hit it with glycerin soap or oil.

                                        I did buy some guards/bags? for my stirrup irons. I am blanking on what they're called. But basically it protects the saddle from the irons and any dirt that may be left on them when you run them up. It was a cheap and useful purchase.

                                        Comment

                                        Working...
                                        X