From Endurance to Dressage
Part 1 - Clyde’s Leather Recoloring Balm
EDITED: I would skip the deglazer.
Four years ago, I dyed my used, but new-to-me dressage saddle. it was a scary process, but a fellow blogger had done it successfully, so I gave it a try. It ended up looking quite nice, and I was happy with the results. Lately, my saddle has once again had that grayish, sickly hue rather than being jet black.The most offensive areas of the saddle were the cantle and the front of the saddle's knee rolls. Those are the areas that see the most sunlight. My saddle is stored indoors under a cover, so the fading happens while tacking/untacking and riding.
I've been seeing ads on Facebook for Clyde's Leather Recoloring Balm. After watching some reviews on Youtube, I ordered the black recoloring balm as well as the conditioning cream. Their website was a tiny bit tricky to use because there are lots of deals, but they only work if you buy the right combination of products. Shipping is also free if you spend $40, which I did.
Shipping wasn't super fast, but I wasn't in any hurry either. Cleaning your saddle alone takes some planning and preparation. Recoloring it was something I really had to plan for. Since I was going to a show and needed to clean my saddle for that, I figured I could do the recoloring afterwards. And since it was super hot this week - several days of over 100, the timing worked out perfectly because I wasn't going to ride anyway.
I brought my saddle home on Monday afternoon and cleaned up the little bit of dust that had accumulated over the weekend. I had done a good cleaning job a few days before, so it didn't need much work. Like the first time I dyed the saddle, I used a deglazer to remove as much of the Resolene from the saddle that I could - although most of that had long since worn away. I also stripped off my leathers and gathered my supplies. Clyde's sent a mini brush, a small sponge, and a pair of disposable gloves. Use the gloves; this stuff is inky black.
The recoloring balm feels a bit like boot black cream. I started by dabbing off the product that was stuck to the seal underneath the lid and applied it carefully to the saddle's skirt thinking that if it looked horrible, at least it wouldn't show too much. Once I could tell that it was going to be fine, I moved to the saddle's cantle. I found that the balm worked a bit like a stain - spread too thinly and it didn't cover enough. Instead, I found that dabbing it on covered the gray the most effectively. Once it was covered, I used a circular motion to smooth it out.
I spent less than 20 minutes applying the recoloring balm. What I quickly discovered, and liked, was that I didn't have to apply it everywhere. I focused on the grayest areas first and was then able to blend it into the areas of the saddle that were still black. Different parts of the saddle absorbed the recoloring cream more easily than others. The butt of the saddle (the rear part of the panels) and the leather under the panels absorbed the cream much more smoothly. Those parts of my saddle have a dimpling pattern in the leather rather being super smooth.
I also liked that it was a cream rather than a liquid. When I used the black dye the first time, I had to be really careful not to spill the bottle or splash the dye as I applied it. With the cream, I could hold the container in one hand and dip the sponge in as needed without worrying about it spilling.
I tried to apply the cream in a circular fashion as recommended. As I was working, I could tell that I was going to need to buff out the stroke marks once it had a chance to cure. The direction sheet recommends 24 - 36 hours for curing. Since I applied the recoloring cream on a warm day, I let the saddle sit for an hour or two and then went to check on it. It was completely dry. I tried buffing out the application marks, but a little black came off on my microfiber rag, so I decided to let it sit until the next day. Instead of buffing, I applied a light coating of the conditioning cream and rubbed it in gently.
So far, I am more than satisfied with the color. While it might look a bit "splotchy" with stroke marks, once it is being used, it won't bother me a bit. I am also not finished with it yet, so it may buff out better once it has cured. Even the stroke marks don't smooth out, it still looks so much better that I don't care. It was also a very, very quick DIY project that was much less scary than using actual saddle dye.
Stay tuned; I'll share the final results on Monday.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: