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Thread: New Horse Saddle Discolored in 3 Months

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default New Horse Saddle Discolored in 3 Months

    I hope this posting is acceptable in this forum:

    My girlfriend and I purchased a new horse saddle from England for a about USD 3'200.

    The leather was died black and already upon shipment from England showed signs of discoloration at the vertical surface at the back edge of the sitting area.

    Because we needed the saddle urgently we did not take any further notice of it.

    Within 3 months the discoloration continued to spread all over the saddle and wrinkles appeared on the seat surface.

    We were particularly shocked when we compared it to a friend of ours who had purchased a saddle from the same company and hers looked like new (as was one would expect).

    We reported this to the manufacturer, send them fotos, their consultant took photos and they agreed to exchange the saddle.

    After the exchange of saddles we received an email from the manufacturer stating that the condition of the saddle was due to our negligent storage and care and that the saddle was in a filthy state.

    They said they would re-dye the leather and that it would be perfect again.

    Well of course, but why did it discolor in the first place and why the wrinkles?

    We stored our saddle at the place where everyone else stored their saddle but nothing happened to their saddles.

    The saddle was used on an average for one hour a day during those three months and was never exposed to hard rain, nor was it exposed to more sun than for that one hour (if the sun happened to shine at all).

    We cleaned the saddle with a slightly humid cloth.

    Our 6 year old dressage saddle looked like brand new compared the newly bought one after 3 months and had gone through many torrents of rain at various competitions.

    Even though we now have a replacement saddle from the manufacturer we are unhappy about the accusation that we maltreated the saddle with utmost cruelty.

    Can it not also be a manufacturing problem?

    After all a saddle is meant to last 10 -20 years and not look ancient after 3 months.

    The seller says that only our saddle manufactured with this lot of leather had this problem, implying it could not be a manufacturing issue.

    The producer also advertises the longevity and quality of their saddles.

    Any feedback is highly welcome!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.


    Welcome to the forum!

    It would be more specific if we can discuss with reference to the pictures.

    So post as many high resolution pictures as you wish and we can go from there.

    Roger Koh
    Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification #942
    Leather Care Technician
    Master Textile Cleaner
    Master Fire & Smoke Restorer
    Journeyman Water Restorer
    Since 1973

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default Pictures of Discolored Saddle

    Dear Roger,

    Thank you for your kind welcome.

    As you advised please find attached photos of the saddle.

    Sorry about the quality of the photos.

    The saddle was originally black.



    #1: Color-Loss

    #2: Color-Loss

    #3: Color-Loss

    #4: Wrinkle on Seat

    #5: Wrinkle on Seat

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.


    Dear Robert

    It seems to me that you already know the answers to the problems.


    On the subject on discoloration as the three pictures show, is not the “manufacturer problem” I agree but more so the “tannery problem”.

    The dyeing is done at the tannery and not at the saddler workshop.

    Discoloration is mainly due to the effect of UV lights either sunlight or even florescent light that emits UV.

    The quality of dyes and auxiliary leather constituents’ chemistry of this particular batch may be in question (if so there will be other saddles having the same problem too).

    These saddle leather are vegetable-tanned and fatliquoring do play a significant role in color intensity too (as fatliquor diminishes color lightens).


    Wrinkles could be both a tannery and manufacturer problem.

    From the tannery these hides are traditionally vegetable-tanned from cattle hide, best quality is from the bull.

    The breed and the geographical sources determine their quality too.

    So is the part of the hide is been used from, that determine its thickness or firmness of the leather structure (in this case is from the butt - a trim away from the shoulder and bellies).

    The thickness of the hide will be the manufacturer specification e.g. 5mm thickness; where else the firmness is done by the tannery with additional impregnation to firm up the leather structure if necessary.

    Wrinkles can be either from stress looseness due to construction and/or leather structure weakness.

    Or it could be shrinkage or dryness that cause wrinkles due to diminishing fatliquor (very unlikely on the seat surface).

    Do you have any questions to the above?

    Do you like to know more about storage, cleaning, conditioning or preservation against mold infestation too?

    Roger Koh

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