PLEASE TAKE NOTE – I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to care for your leathergoods, whatever purpose they are to be used for.
- I only use the best British bridle leathers produced and hand-finished in Walsall by Sedgwick and Co, who have been renowned for their quality since 1900. These vegetable-tanned, semi-aniline leathers DO NOT have a Waterproof finish and so must be treated regularly from new to keep the leather in top condition, supple, long-lasting and also to prevent any transfer of surface colour when wet. It is the ideal ‘working’ leather – strong, supple and attractive due to the quality of the hides and great care taken in producing them.
- There are many suitable Leathercare products on the market and I recommend a good quality leather conditioner or saddlefood such as Sedgwicks Leathercare (direct from the tannery) or Abbey 1982 Saddlebalm made to an 1882 Walsall tannery recipe. Both are made from a blend of tallow, wax and oils but no harmful chemicals. These will penetrate and nourish your leather, speed up and maintain the suppleness and preserve it for a long, useful life. It is also essential if your dog likes to swim, to counteract the drying and possible stretching effect of the water. The leather will come to no harm if you treat it thoroughly from new & then regularly thereafter with a product such as these. There are also good treatments such as neatsfoot and mink oils which are widely used for livestock halters, saddlery, dog collars & leads but these are not ideal on belts as you may get some oil transferred to your clothing.
- As a rough guide, you probably need to treat your leather really thoroughly every day for about a week, then once a month or so afterwards with a good leather conditioner (food or oil is preferable to saddle soap) but will depend on how you use it and how often it gets wet. If your leather is greasy or muddy, clean it first with warm water and a piece of towelling (old flannel or towel) – this is great for gently lifting the dirt & grease without harming the leather. Then allow your leather to dry naturally away from heat and apply your chosen leather conditioner/food – I keep an old cotton cloth (teatowel!) soaked in softened Abbey 1982 Saddlebalm which I can just use to wipe over the leather as needed. It does wonders for dry chapped hands too!
- It is also essential if your dog likes to swim, to counteract the drying effect of the water. The leather will also be more likely to stretch if used under pressure while wet so ideally remove your dog’s collar and allow it to dry naturally, treat with leathercare before using again. It will come to no harm if you treat it from new & then regularly thereafter with a product such as these.
- Saddle soap alone is not enough as it doesn’t penetrate the leather well, it is more of a surface treatment which can be used once your leather has been well treated with an oil or food.
- If you do nothing to care for or condition your leather, you will dramatically reduce it’s lifetime! The leather will become dry and brittle over a period of time, especially if it gets wet frequently. The last thing you need is to be left with half a dog lead in your hand and no dog because the lead has snapped!
- With regular care, your leathergoods will last many years. I have a number of customers wearing belts of 20 -25 years regular use and dog collars and leads that have seen out 2 or 3 successions of dogs in the family.