What is Bridle Leather?
Bridle Leather refers to the way that a piece of leather (cow hide) is finished at the tannery. Bridle leather has both the Flesh and Grain side of the leather stuffed with greases and finished with wax. This is generally a labour intensive process, thus expensive! Only the best grades of leather are treated like this, it would be uneconomic to treat poor quality leather in this way. Few tanneries produce good bridle leather, we buy only from J & E Sedgwick and J & FJ Baker who we (and many others) feel produce the best bridle leather in the world.
The purpose of bridle leather is threefold;
- It's expected to look good. That is, it must have good depth of colour that changes over time and use and be attractive to look at, it must age well and it must not have natural imperfections that weaken the leather.
- It is expected to be smooth, comfortable and flexible to handle. It is designed for use in bridles, so must be comfortable for a horse to wear next to the skin. Therefore the treatment of the flesh side is as important as the grain side as the flesh side is typically worn next to the horses skin and must be smooth.
- It is expected to be both strong and durable. The riders life literally depends on bridle leather not failing unexpectedly. Its is subjected to quite high loads, and must tolerate this time after time. An item of saddlery is typically expected to last for 10 or more years of use, so not only must the leather be strong, but it must survive poor weather, dirt, everything being in contact with a horse throws at it for many years.