What are High Quality Western Saddles Made of and Why?
Uses for Leather:
Leather has been used in the making of everything, from clothes to furniture, for centuries. Leather is also the ultimate comrade to the equestrian. Saddles are made from leather products that range from raw leather to suede.
Raw leather is animal skin (usually bovine in nature) which is placed in the sun and treated with chemicals to ensure it lasts up to 40 years before putrefying or deteriorating.
How leather is used to build quality saddles-
A Western Saddle: This saddle is almost made of leather exclusively, excluding the tin, wood and metal nails. The horn for looping rope (or holding onto as you mount the horse), also called the lariat, is made of wood and covered with a layer of rawhide and then leather. Even the stirrups are covered with a layer of leather. The tin cut out is layered up with glued down leather (or hide) and the final layer is placed in warm water and clipped to the shape of the saddle so it dries in the right shape. Once this final layer is dry and sewn together it can be decorated and treated with oil.
The prestige of the Western Saddle-
The Western saddle was often used as a status symbol, having many adorned with patterns and even silver inlays. Those are all well and good but the only thing you need for a successful saddle, one that can last for up to 40 years, is high end, good quality leather.
Quality Leather ensures a quality saddle-
The use of quality leather is essential for producing a quality product, in this case, a Western saddle. It is used for all parts of the saddle, apart from the sheepskin that is glued to the underside of the saddle so that the woollen side rests comfortably on the horse’s back.
When finished with oil, leather is durable and strong enough to resist even the taxing activities of equestrian and horse. Quality leather is important to reduce chaffing, friction or rubbing that may be uncomfortable for the horse or rider.
You can learn more on where to purchase your own raw leather if you want to put your hands to a new hobby. That hell’s angel motorcycle jacket may not be too far off in your future. Read more on products that can be made using quality leather here.