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Revitalizing sad bridle

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  • Revitalizing sad bridle

    I just purchased a nice quality bridle from eBay that unfortunately had been terribly abused. I spent yesterday cleaning years of dirt off of it and oiled it, however it still is dry and dull looking. What can I do to restore it so that it at least looks decent?


  • #2
    Check out the Eventing forum topic on Bensmom's soap!


    • #3
      Bensmom's soap!!
      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


      • #4
        Or, take it apart and submerse in warm water with a glug of ammonia-maybe 1 part ammonia to 10 parts water or so-don't worry, won't hurt the leather.

        Let it sit for awhile...half an hour maybe. Then take a soft toothbrush and gently scrub everything, rinse in clean, warm water, pat dry then let completely dry out of sun and away from heat source.

        Have become a huge fan of good grade olive oil in the last few years but brush a light coat of whatever oil you want-warm the oil by leaving it in the sun or a quick zap in the microwave (and I mean quick-warm not hot). Let that coat dry then do another, let that dry and do another. Multiple light coats allowing full absorbtion and NO BUILDUP of product, which is why the stuff gets so dull, too much crap on it.

        It will feel a little stiff but is quickly going to supple up for you. You can use it after a few oil coats, maybe another coat or two during the next week as an if needed.

        Beside bensmoms soap you could use Ivory or Murphy's Oil Soap in pretty much the same way as you would the ammonia.

        Even with bridles in good shape, I have found this method is about the only way to really clean braided reins and sweaty martingales or breast plate without just adding gunk to the build up.

        A well known saddle maker taught me to clean leather this way decades ago and I have had great luck with stuff lasting a long, long time. Never any breakage unless it got stepped on or hooked on a fence post acting stupid after a fall.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks! I will try. I took it apart yesterday and cleaned with Castile soap and then oiled with Neat's foot but it was still dull when I put it back together. I honestly could not believe the amount of dirt! I've never seen such a filthy piece of tack in my life


          • #6
            Don't use Neatsfoot for this. It builds up and actually blocks the leather from breathing while attracting dirt-which all of the products do when overused.

            Household ammonia costs a buck a quart and I bet you have Olive Oil in your pantry.

            Soak that sucker and don't be afraid to scrub with the (soft) toothbrush. Just dry AWAY from sun or heat source. Again, it will be stiff but do NOT get carried away with the oil-LIGHT coats at room temp or a little warmer and WAIT until that is absorbed before adding more. When you use the bridle, it will supple up in a hurry with the heat of the horse body and flexing.

            Just a hint, before you oil it, if it's dry, you can leave it and the oil in the sun to warm and that will open the leather's pores for better absorbtion.

            Remember this about leather, a cow lived in it out in the weather. It is pretty tough stuff IF just a few precautions are taken.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


            • #7
              I just ordered some of bensmom's soap, from the reviews it cleans and conditions beautifully. I prefer a good Lederbalsam (Effax) or cream conditioner (CWD) instead of oil for restoring leather.


              • Original Poster

                I'll take a look at the bensmom's soap! I usually use Mad Cow conditioner but am all out and the bridle was SO dry, I tried the oil.


                • #9
                  Still recommend you give it a good soak and scrub. Fine grains of sand/footing/ hair and dirt work into the stitching, the fold overs around the buckles and under the braids in the reins as well as in the holes they run thru.. They are abrasive and can corrode over time. Not something you are going to do that often but it does need to happen periodically.

                  When they get this gunked up and neglected, it's the only way to really resurrect them.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    PM, I have Bensmom's soap and a sad bridle. I think it's a great tool for cleaning and for daily conditioning, but it is not going to be, nor was it designed to be, an emergency restoration product. I'm another olive oil fan. But for a last ditch "wow this is seriously bad" effort, I also really like Kocholine. It is goopy and can make your tack sticky, but it does do a really good job of restoring condition.
                    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                    Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                    Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                    • #11
                      Hydrophane and/or Kocholine.

                      you probably already have, but be sure to make sure it is just sad looking, not weak, if you are going to use it.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hippolyta View Post
                        Hydrophane and/or Kocholine.

                        you probably already have, but be sure to make sure it is just sad looking, not weak, if you are going to use it.
                        I was thinking the same thing. I would be worried it might crack or break if it is that dried out and stiff.