From Endurance to Dressage
Saddle Dying by "Chance"
No, not that kind of Chance. I mean the Amanda-from-The 900 Facebook Pony kind of Chance. My new-to-me, although a lot less newer now that I've had it for almost a year, saddle started fading. It was like the warranty ran out. One day it was black, and the next it started turning this sickly gray color that was quite unattractive.
As soon as I noticed it, it seemed to get worse every time I cleaned the saddle. I could literally see the dye coming off on my sponge. I remembered that Amanda had dyed her saddle some time before, so I googled Dying a Saddle, and sure enough Amanda's post popped up almost immediately.
I don't know Amanda personally, but I've followed her blog for a few years, and we've made some comments back and forth to each other. I know she's honest in what she writes, so I felt confident trusting her directions for dying a saddle.
Early in the summer, I ordered everything on her list, but the show season was in full swing, and I was pretty nervous about the process. What if it went to hell in a hand basket? I didn't want to be with no saddle just days before a show, so I gathered the supplies and left them to sit, waiting for the right moment.
I cleaned my saddle on the Saturday morning before our last show. On the way home on Sunday afternoon, I decided that Speedy was getting the week off, so what better time to dye the saddle? I started the process that same afternoon.
I followed Amanda's directions pretty closely. In fact, I had printed her whole blog post and kept it beside me as I worked. After every coat of whichever bottle I was using, I reread the steps again.
If you haven't read Amanda's post, the process goes like this:
After I used the black dye, I allowed the saddle to sit overnight. The next afternoon I used the Tan-Kote and Resolene. I also allowed that to sit over night. The third day, I did a light coating of Lederbalsam to finish the whole thing off.
Overall, I am really happy with how it looks. The leather took the dye well and the saddle looks and feels so much better. The resolene was pretty tough to use though. I spread it as thinly and carefully as I could, but you can still see brush strokes (I used a clean cloth to apply) on the seat and skirt.
It was easiest to do the parts of the saddle that are covered in textured leather or that were in small pieces, like the cantle, the knee rolls, and back part of the panels. There are no brush strokes on those areas.
Amanda gave this DIY project five stars for value and two stars for difficulty. I completely agree. I spent a little more than she did, prices had gone up a bit, but it was still under $50. The steps through the Tan-Kote phase were all really easy. It wasn't until I got to the Resolene that I struggled. I am not sure what you could do to spread that more evenly. I used a brand new soft cloth, but maybe a thin brush or sponge would be better.
I've had a few rides in the saddle since dying it. The first time I rode in the saddle, five days after the coat of lederbalsam, the resolene got a bit gummy and came off. In fact, much of the streaked area is now smoothed out, but it's no longer shiny. I am actually glad about that.
I had hoped that with some wear, the brush strokes would begin to fade or blend in. Now that they have, I am even happier with how the saddle looks. On top of that, it is the cleanest it has been since it left the saddle maker. That won't last long, I am sure.
There's still a bit of time left to leave a comment on Monday's post for a chance to win a pair of Roeckl gloves.
9/6/2018 08:25:10 am
You're missing the alcoholic beverage in the supplies! LOL
9/8/2018 04:40:35 pm
Oh, the drinks were missed, I promise. Unfortunately, I am "on the wagon" for health reasons. :0)
9/6/2018 09:07:11 am
Dyed 2 of them after reading Amanda's blog. Not sure why you didn't use the Fiebings oil dye (yeah, they say not sold in Calif, but you can get it from Ebay sellers!). Also, I spent a bunch of time on the Fiebings site. I don't think you are supposed to use both top coats. I didn't use the Resolene because I don't like the shiny look. Also, it's actually a "sealant", so it doesn't take oil well. I ended up using Bagkote. You definitely have to buff it out a lot with a very fine microfiber cloth to get out the excessive dye. But my saddles now have that "new" look. Also, put that deerskin seat saver on it when you school, it will at least protect the cantle from faking!
9/8/2018 04:38:33 pm
You're hired! ;0)
8/12/2019 06:36:31 am
I just got all of my Fieblings bottles to start the process. Should I use the Resolene or skip it?
8/18/2019 01:50:26 pm
I would skip the Resolene. It's mostly worn off now anyway.
Comments are closed.
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%: