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Olive oil to condition your saddle?

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  • Olive oil to condition your saddle?

    Was just discussing this with a friend. She has tried it and likes it. Any thoughts?

    Would you use virgin or extra virgin, or does it matter? What method would you use to apply? Same as commercial oils for saddles?
    Last edited by PONY751; Dec. 19, 2009, 02:22 PM.
    Sailing the high seas but secretly wishing to be on the back of a horse.

  • #2
    David Stackhouse when he delivered my saddle told me to use only olive oil on it when conditioning it.


    • #3
      So how would you do this? The same as any other oil...??
      "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


      • #4
        If you want to eat or fry your saddle then olive oil should do just fine.

        But I don't think it makes the grade as a saddle conditioning oil (even though it gets some recommendations by some folks).

        Stubben Hammanol (sp) has worked very well for me for several years. The Lexol line of products does well. I would think Mink Oil would be superior to olive oil (though more expensive).

        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


        • #5
          The US cavalry used to use olive oil and castor oil blended. It gave the sadles a lovely rosewood color. And the castor oil waterproofed the leather.
          However today we have fantastic saddle and leather treatments that are far superior. Leather CPR or Lexol or Leather New or Leather Therapy are all good. Do nto use neatsfoot oil on English leathers. I do not recommend it especially if it is a blend with petrochemical oils. Never use any petro oil on leather. I saw a saddle a lady had used W-D 40 on. It ruined the leather. It turned it dark and it looks old.
          Passier has a saddlery dressing that is very good. As well as Lieder Balsam by Effax. Just don't do the seat with lots of it. It will make it slicker than glass.

          I don't recommemd olive oil now days as it attracts rats and mice if the saddle is kept out at the barn.
          Now it is especially prudent to protect you saddlery and tack from rat damage. Use what ever methods you choose but protect your tack. If you have ever seen the damage a rat can do to a new dressage saddle, you would cry.


          • #6
            I have used olive oil in the past as I am old.

            someone once told me "it's a saddle, not a salad"
            A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton


            • #7
              I use Franklin baseball glove softener and conditioner, it's probably cheaper than a good olive oil.


              • #8
                Used olive oil on my brand new BdH saddle. LOVE it! What's nice about it is the fact that it didn't sit on top of the leather. Sometimes I feel like neatsfoot just coats the leather without sinking in. Plus, it stinks. The olive oil has no smell to it, and I literally applied 3 coats with a paintbrush, and it absorbed with NO film at all. Do NOT use it, however, if you do NOT want your tack to darken. It darkened my saddle about 2 shades; I wanted that, though, so I was pleased. Used extra virgin, heated up until it was nicely warm, then painted it on with a paintbrush; ALL over. Top, and underside. I highly recommend it!


                • #9
                  Haven't used it on a saddle, but used it and liked it on several bridles. Darkened them all about two shades, but they were all new-ish at the time, so your mileage may vary on older tack.
                  "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.


                  • #10
                    Another olive oil user here. I hate Lexol, Stubben Hammenol reaks like cooked pork, Leder balsem is o.k., but it leaves a weird film, and mink oil is o.k. too. I've been using olive oil for 20 years and have never once had a rodent chew on my tack... I suppose it's a possiblity, but I don't think they'd be more attracted to olive oil than they would to some of the other conditioners.


                    • #11
                      I use blended vegetable oil on all tack and harness.

                      It's much cheaper.


                      • #12
                        Montana Pitch blend

                        the absolute best leather soap and conditioner. The pitch keeps the rodents away too!


                        • #13
                          I use olive oil on the recommendation of David Stackhouse on his saddles. The type doesn't matter. I apply with a sponge just like regular oil. It does do a really good job on the leather, especially the first time the saddle is oiled. But I do get cravings for salads afterwards.


                          • #14
                            I had read somewhere that olove oiled saddles will mildew quicker? Anyone know about that?
                            I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                            Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


                            • #15
                              I have been using olive oil for 30 years on all kinds of saddles. Starting with cortina saddles (remember those? when I was a kid. I have used it on new crosby saddles, possoas, thornhills, hdr, harry dabbs, countyand beval. I have used it on cheapy saddles to give some flexability to the saddle panels. My students use it on school saddles, and at summer camp on all kinds of tack. I have kept saddles in my bank barn, tackroom and my modern barn and never had anything chew on them. I own about 25 saddles of all ages and types. It does darken the leather, but for hunters and jumpers, is'nt that a plus? I like using olive oil, just not too much like any oil.


                              • #16
                                Olive oil is a food (vegetable) product It will decompose and turn rancid in warm weather. And because it is a *food*, it will also attract rodents and mildew, especially as it decomposes.

                                I was taught never to use olive oil on leather (or wood). I once wanted to condition a wood cutting board (it was in the shape of a horse and I wanted to hang it in my kitchen, and maybe even use it occassionally). I was going to use olive oil, since it might be used for chopping food. But I was told NOT to ever use olive oil on wood (for the same reasons not to use it on leather - it WILL turn rancid and attract mildew). What I was told to use is mineral oil since it is not a food-based oil but can be safely used with food and is even used internally - it is not a good choice for leather however).

                                Anyway, I would stick to one of the many conditioners specifically made for leather. There are a ton of great products these days. My personal favorite is still good old fashioned Neatsfoot oil though. When applied right (not overdone) it does a great job. And Castile soap for cleaning.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Claddagh View Post
                                  Olive oil is a food (vegetable) product It will decompose and turn rancid in warm weather.
                                  Never a problem in the UK

                                  And because it is a *food*, it will also attract rodents and mildew, especially as it decomposes
                                  I've never noticed rodents flinging themselves at my saddlery and harness. Truth be told though you shouldn't keep any saddles anywhere that mice and rats can access. They gnaw and wreck anything and everything they some across..... including electric cabling!

                                  I was taught never to use olive oil on leather - it WILL turn rancid and attract mildew).
                                  Nonsense. Totally! I've got saddles and harness that are decades old.... Some going back 3 generations. Trust me I wouldn't use oil on valuable leather if it did damage. Especially not with the price of a set of Teams harness.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thank you all for your very broad spectrum of opinions. Haven't yet used the olive oil. I think I'll give it a test run on something inexpensive first.
                                    Sailing the high seas but secretly wishing to be on the back of a horse.


                                    • #19
                                      Mike Corcoran told me to use olive oil on saddles to condition them, as did Corky from Ft. Bend Saddlery. It's cheap, it doesn't reek like Hammanol (which stinks of decomposing fish, to me ), and it's easy to apply.

                                      So, to sound more commercial, two out of two saddlers recommend it.

                                      Oh, and Mike uses Dawn dish detergent to clean his saddles, prior to conditioning them. He says that traditional saddle soaps have too much grease/oil in them to get the leather truly clean. And no worries about stripping the oils, since you're replacing them immediately with the olive oil.

                                      In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                                      A life lived by example, done too soon.


                                      • #20
                                        EVOO cures everything from heart disease to saddles!

                                        Like Thomas, I've been around since dirt was invented and have been poor and rich. Olive Oil and other vegetable oils like corn or canola can certainly be used on a salad, I mean saddle, with absolutely no harm to the leather.

                                        Both vegetable based and animal based conditioning oils will attract rodents and other pests and there is no difference in their attraction to mildew, which is a fungus not fussy about what it eats as long as there is moisture in the air. Solution? Get a tackroom cat for the rodents and a heater to prevent the mildew from growing.

                                        Vegetable oils are a lighter, smaller molecule than the animal based oils such as neatsfoot and no animal died in their making (but then, you are putting it on dead animal hide). They penetrate well as a result but also evaporate off more quickly if the item is stored for a long time. Vegetable oils are good if you need to condition frequently or if economy is a concern as they are generally less expensive than the other treatments you can use. They are also easier to remove if you overcondition. Don't ask how I know. BTDT.

                                        Stubben lederbalsam leaves a film because it is formulated with beeswax, which lends more waterproofing. It and other animal based oils like neatsfoot, lanolin and mink oil last longer and are better for long dry storage.

                                        Although I hate to use petrolatum based products on leather, for extremely long storage, I have seen saddles conditioned with a thin film of vaseline that were in perfect shape 10 years after being put up in the attic. I wouldn't recommend that, but the petrolatum based products do not mildew and do not attract animals. WD-40 wrecks leather not because it has petrolatum, but because it is a SOLVENT primarily and not so good as a lubricant. The person who used it on their saddle deserved the wreckage that followed. What a ditz! The solvents dissolve the bonds in the leather and cause permanent damage. Products like "horsemen's onestep" cleaner work well in the short term because they have such solvents in them and take greasy dirt off well, but in the long run may not be good for longevity of the leather. I know I have one good english leather saddle I used that product on for a couple of years, and the flaps weakened and wore out after about 15 years. Not blaming the product necessarily, but I haven't used it on other saddles and they have lasted much longer. In fact, I have several saddles as old as me conditioned with neatsfoot or vegetable oil that are still going strong.

                                        Glycerin saddle soap is uaully considered a petrolatum product, but it also can be derived from animal fats. I think it is the best cleaner- it doesn't penetrate much and lifts greasy dirt off the leather quite well. I use a lot of it in the form of Murphy's Oil soap, diluted with water ( 1 part soap to 2-3 parts water), in a spray bottle. I spray my saddle after every ride, wipe it clean and dry with a towel. I only need to condition with oil once or twice a year, or if I ride in a downpour.

                                        I tend to favour the old adage "Like likes like" in that I tend to use animal derived cleaning products and conditioners on animal hides and have had good luck with them. You use so little neatsfoot oil that price is not really a consideration.
                                        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF