When cared for properly, leather will last a lifetime and past. Left untreated, however, leather will dry up and crack over time, leading it to tighten and harden. Old leather reins are common in tack rooms and farms around the world, and restoring them is an everyday part of keeping the a variety of tack necessary to work with horses and other animals.
Cleaning the Fabric
Before you restore old leather reins, you have to first remove all debris and dirt so the oils used in the restoration process will likely penetrate the organic stuff. Water should never be used straight to wash leather; instead, rely on specialty soaps to do the task. Common saddle additives are just one example. These are generally made from a glycerin-based mixture which allows you to wash the leather without damaging it. As a rule of thumb, it is applied with a rough towel along with a scrub brush to remove dirt and debris. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the particulars of application and removal.
Oils and Dubbins
After the leather was completely cleaned and allowed to dry for at least a day, you can begin the actual restoration. Leather is an organic product which can remain supple and powerful for several years with proper maintenance, but its strength is directly linked to its versatility, which in turn is characterized by oils. There’s a variety of oils you can use, which range from tidy’s-foot oil to mink oil, together with dubbins. Dubbins are a mixture of tallow, awesome’s-foot oil and trace quantities of other resins, in addition to beeswax and sometimes glycerin, too. Always follow manufacturer instructions, but as a general rule these oils are implemented with an old towel or a brush and permitted to soak into the leather for anywhere from five to 30 minutes for slightly dry reins, and a couple of days for overly dry reins.
Preparing for Use
Following the reins are soaked on your preferred type of oil, you need to wash them before employing them. The same leather soap used to wash the leather in the first place can also be useful here, together with the objective being to remove any of the remaining oil in the surface of the reins, so which you may use them without excessive oil rubbing off in your hands or on the beast. This is a light cleaning, instead of the first time around when you were removing grime and dirt; the objective is to remove the excess oil. The final removal of this soap should be done with a nearly dry towel or rag, to make sure that the surface of the reins are oil free.
Not all leather reins may be restored, and it is important to realize that while cosmetic leather may be restored to its original luster without regard for its structural integrity, reins are tools which will need to be noise in order to perform their job properly. Leather which has molded or accumulated mildew over time is not always worn out, since mould and mildew are a sign that moisture still stays within and suppleness may be restored. Regrettably, once leather reins have completely dried out and become inflexible with large surface cracks and splits, they’re no longer structurally sound. Even though you are able to restore them to use as decorative items, dried and cracked leather reins can no longer be used safely for their first working purpose.