Leather instruction and training

We offer an apprentice program for all those interested in learning the leather trade. Some teaching will be done using tools and hands-on approach. Other times we will use our online learning center to handle the academics.

How to Clean Your Leather Saddle

How to Clean Your Leather Saddle

Oak Brand Leather

We at Oak Brand Leather think saddle cleaning is very important.  We all need to
protect our investments.

So we have decided to create this article for your benefit. We know leather and we know the industry.

We are true leather craftsmen and have been providing quality leather products and services since 1969.

How to Clean Your Leather Saddle by Oak Brand Leather. 1

Gather Your Equipment. 2

Leather Cleaning Kits. 2

Strip The Saddle. 3

Saddle Soap. 3

Clean the Leather. 4

Clean Off Any Residual Soap. 4

Apply Leather Conditioner. 5

Clean Metal Fittings and Stirrup Leathers. 6

Brush Up Suede or Rough-Out Leathers. 7

Brush the suede or rough-out portions of your saddle with a stiff brush. 7

Gather Your Equipment

Gather your equipment.

Traditional wisdom says we should clean our saddles every time we use them, but that may not be practical. How often you clean your saddle may

depend on how it is used and how frequently it is used. If you only use your saddles on weekends for leisurely pleasure rides you might

not need to clean your saddle as frequently as someone who participates in a sport where the saddle is exposed to sweat, mud and dirt on a regular basis.

It makes sense to clean them before storing, before a competition, or before selling one.

(And if your stored saddle has sprouted mold, don’t worry. Just follow the steps below.) Gather all your cleaning equipment. You’ll need:

·       Mild saddle soap (glycerin)

·       Non-detergent leather conditioner

·       Small sponge

·       Toweling (3 to 4)

·       Small bucket or bowl of water (not hot)

·       Stiff bristle or wire brush (optional)

·       Cotton swabs

·       Metal cleaner

Leather Cleaning Kits

If you need to obtain the entire kits we can also help with that.

Leather cleaning kit #1

Leather cleaning kit #2

Leather cleaning kit #3

Leather cleaning kit #4

Strip The Saddle

Saddle stripped of stirrups, girth and ready to clean on a saddle stand.

Strip the saddle of all fittings and undo any buckles. Wipe the saddle down with slightly dampened toweling to

remove any loose dust, dirt and hair.

Saddle Soap

Squeeze the sponge out and work up a foam on the cake of soap.

Dampen the sponge in the water. You’ll want it damp but not dripping wet. Dip it in the saddle soap and work up a lather.

All-in-one cleaners that promise to clean and condition in one step may not be good for leather.

Some contain detergents that over time can damage the leather.

Clean the Leather

Apply the soap, then wipe off any residue.

Apply the lather to the leather. Frequently rinse and re-lather the sponge. Work in small circles covering all surfaces of the saddle; top,

underside, and between flaps. Do not apply soap or water to suede or rough-out leathers often found on seats or knee rolls.

Clean Off Any Residual Soap

Clean off excess soap.

Wipe the saddle with a damp towel and then a dry towel. You’ll want to remove any residual soap from the leather as soap left behind may damage the

leather over time. Some saddlers recommend using only a damp cloth and no soap.

Residual soap left in crevices and folds will also hold grit that can eat away at the leather.

Use dampened cotton swabs or the corner of a towel to get all soap out of tiny stitching channels and crevices.

Wipe the saddle dry. The next step is conditioning and they work best on leather that are a tad damp.

Apply Leather Conditioner

Apply a light layer of
professional quality Oak Brand Leather Conditioner.

Apply our own professional Oak Brand Leather Conditioner. Apply the oil very sparingly. You don’t want to clog the pores or give dirt a

place to cling to. Too much oil can soak through the leather into the padding or tree underneath and cause damage.

Remember if you apply too much oil it’s almost impossible to get out quickly. You may have to wait for months as it gradually oozes out onto your clothes.

Clean Metal Fittings and Stirrup Leathers

Clean the metal fittings and stirrups being sure not to get metal cleaner on leather.

Wipe down all metal fittings and remove any residual soap or conditioner that may have gathered on them.

Follow the same steps of applying soap and conditioner to clean the stirrup leathers.

Metal cleaner can be used on stirrups but they can also be cleaned with regular dish soap and water. Rinse well. Use caution if you clean

the metal fittings on the saddle with metal cleaner that it doesn’t get into the leather.

Brush the suede or rough-out portions of your saddle with a stiff brush.

Brush Up Suede or Rough-Out Leathers

Very occasionally you may want to make suede or rough-out seats or knee rolls look nice. Use a stiff bristle brush to brush up the nap.

Do this very infrequently as too much brushing will wear through the suede and you’ll end up holes.

You may want to do this step only if you’re trying to make the saddle look extra good for a special show or to sell.

Thanks for reading our “How To Clean Your Leather Saddle” by Oak Brand Leather.  Remember if you want to learn more about protecting your leather investment please go to our web site. Once there you may
send us mail.

Thanks for choosing Oak Brand Leather for all of your custom leather needs.

Ed Oak Mathieus

Teaching the Leather Trade

I do teach saddle making, saddle repair, saddle designing, silver design, layout patterns, All Styles, Horns, Ground work, and Configurations. For example, keep these areas in mind when you build a West Coast Cutter that there are standards on how the connectors attach even the groundwork. This holds true in 80% of these names: Ropers, Cutters, Ranch Cutters, Sorters, Barrel Racers and Reiners as in a Lomis or Lawson. There are special Features also in the “Wade” or “Afork” drop Plate rigging such as powder River Style to just plan full (5/8) rigged all different combinations. This can mean a Specific Named Saddle designed plus look.  My knowledge insures this and so much more.

In saddle design there are standards also for the Saddle to have a True Western look. There are measurements which if not adhered to ……..well, you have seen the bad results on that. I believe enough has been said.

Teaching Saddle Repair ……………
Now, if you want to be a true Saddle Maker and (sky’s the limit), this is where I say the foundation is built.

You will at least make a living while your years add up with knowledge; as well as paying your dues so to speak.  I myself learned in the following order: Starting in 1967 to 1970:

1) Saddle Cleaning and Conditioning – (6 months)
2) Saddle repair (used) – (6 months)
3) Saddle making (custom) One year, 1970 to Present  3600 Hour Diploma,
4) Saddle designing (custom) since 1970 to Present,
5) Teaching, New, since 1987 to Present,
6) Manufacturing, New, Cut room Tech, and finishing since 1990,
7) Teaching Manufacturing (New) and designing Rule dyes
8) Since 1990 Tree making and designing, and building.
9) Then teaching since 2004 to present.

(But) a few whom I’ve known teaching leather . . .

Frank McKayVoc-TechOklahoma
Ray (Shorty) StilesVoc-TechOklahoma
Kenneth HooverVoc-TechOklahoma
Melvin StocktonVoc-TechOklahoma
Ed NewmanVoc-TechOklahoma
Charles VeachSaddle StoreTulsa, Oklahoma
Billy Cook SaddleryVoc-TechSulphur, Oklahoma
Bill RobinsonVisalaVisala, California
Steve SchmitM. L. LeddyFort Worth, Texas
Brad FosterM. L. LeddyFort Worth, Texas
BrendaM. L. LeddyFort Worth, Texas
Werner SteckelbruckTriple Horn Saddlery
and here we are.
Waldfeucht, Germany













All have had a hand in my style and technique. There have been other saddle makers though whom I worked and exchanged teaching styles and techniques that are not listed. And there were saddle makers whom over the years just came by my store and shop and wanted to show me their techniques they use on a saddle I would be building. This happened with a saddle maker from Australia which (darn) I hope he reads this and sends me his name and photos of those Birds in his back yard. He showed me those pictures of exotic birds and I can’t get them out of my mind. His saddle making was very nice, Cutters, too! I cannot tell you how much enjoyment I’ve received in my trade.  It never gets boring. You must meet so many great folks and you get to work with history. When you are blessed to teach some day, then give it your all in teaching. You allow another to begin that learning cycle which never ends, “ Man or Woman………..teaching”. It keeps you sharp. Learning moves you forward, people make you smile.

Industrial Training, Saddle Making, and Manufacturing

Over the years I have been blessed to have been able to fully utilize the custom saddle building and custom tree building. In the industries of saddle making,

I will say a group or team can and have produced saddles of the caliber of the top custom saddle makers and or companies.

I have lead and instructed such teams. I’m very thankful to have made it happen, and loved doing so.

Without getting into a long history and detailed description, I shall give a brief, short mention of the name and company.


In some companies, I brought production standards in quality and techniques to a new level through their needs to serve the customer in top quality standards.

I’m happy to say, they all strive to become better, more proficient and all want quality, or I would never have attempted the concept with the lines or the company listed below:

1) First, the old Dennis Moreland plant Cowboy Tack, briefly, M. L. Leddy’s Cowboy Tack
2) Martin Saddlery, Plant #2, Equibrand, Del Rio, Texas
3) Longhorn Saddlery, Billy Cook Saddle, Smith and Action Saddles, Greenville, Texas and McKinney, Texas
4) Also in my own industry, Oak Brand Leather – Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada and Mexico.

Years ago, I’ve even had the pleasure of working with the McPherson Saddle makers at their homes

in Los Angeles, California! What a smile that brings back. I’ll put that picture in here later; as well as, other team photos of our plants and employees of past.

_____ Ed ‘Oak’ Mathieus

Saddle Making & Saddle Repair Instructional Courses

Thank for learning more about our Saddle Making and Saddle Repair Instructional Courses.

So, you want to learn the leather trade?

     First, let’s talk about learning saddle repair. Saddle repair is my favorite skill that I recommend for a person to first learn in wanting to work saddles. Why? You not only can have the knowledge to repair, but you will have an open book before you in the repairs you do but, can you read it? If so, you will know what you’re working on is presenting a style and skill right there in front of you – hands on.  You just need to know the basic’s to read his or her work.
My “Saddle repair Course” teaches you hands-on skills and techniques. Some of your training will be in our shop while others may be done online.  By the end of the class, you will be repairing saddles as you demonstrate the following:

1.   The different Saddle parts, Tree knowledge

2.   Finding problems in used Saddle’s

3.   Saddle Repair, (Hands on – with me),

4.   Stitching hand and machine. I use Adler 360, Union Lock stitch and Table Model for Chaps and Tack,

5.   How to use tools and equipment related to a saddle- plus pricing your work,

6.   Pricing your work.

7.   Materials, general knowledge and where to order,

8.   Last, our Student / Teacher relationship will never end.

9.   This course runs (10) Ten Weeks, but some students learn faster than others and some just want as much repair knowledge as possible in10 weeks. As a student, you will demonstrate by hands-on knowledge gained during the steps in training.

Saddle Repair Course Cost $4,000.00

Tools recommended upon completion of the basic course will cost approx. $1,400.00 dollars. If you shop around, you can lower the cost of tools down to $800.00 – $900.00.

Saddle Making Course and Saddle Repair Courses

           I have been teaching saddle making and repair courses since 1988. The students were selected from many. I have always believed you must; well sort of meet a certain criteria. First, you must want to learn. Second, you must know this line of acquired skill is as Heritage and Western as it gets. Last, this form of Art is “a God-given Skill” you can earn; as well as, learn. I must say “This” weeded a lot of want-a- be students, out.

           But I had to be confident; you will do right and carry on a tradition. So far, I’ve been blessed with each and all students making their mark in business . With their ability to continue to learn and grasp knowledge is a greater way of thinking of what can I learn?  I observe students with an attitude of humbleness as they move forward in Western Heritage morals, and ethics that are deep rooted in saddlers. As you well know, I look for that hopefully to be in at least the beginning in my students as skilled men and women.

           So far, you guessed it………………they fill the ticket. In the following sentences, you are about to read, I will tell you how I teach and why I believe in this technique.

Saddle Making  Course and Approximate Tool Cost

Custom Saddle Making Course Fee:  $8,000.00 (Plus Tools)
Course Time: 10 weeks and you will be hard pressed

We first will

(1) plan your Saddle; and

(2) You will learn Tree Specs.
Following Steps for the Custom Saddle Making Course:

1) First, you’ll learn saddle parts and where they fit with names which, in some cases have changed.

2) Horse anatomy in relation to saddle fitting and how-to directions.

3) Finding your way around leather tools and shop, learning to punch, cut, plus use splitter and skiving machine.

4) Also you will learn how to sharpen a straight knife, sharpen a round knife, and learn to sew with a machine, and skive leather.

5) You will cut leather, learn the thickness used in different parts of a saddle, and the firmness needed for strength in relation to the use of the saddle part you are cutting.

6) You will learn how and where to cut a saddle part from (Saddle Skirting Hides).

7) You will learn proper gluing and wet molding techniques; as well as, oiling, finishing, line stitching, lock stitching, and double stitching.

8) You will learn saddle types and uses in events; as well as, trees and their advantages and disadvantages.

9) You will build your own saddle which will belong to you on completion of the Custom Saddle Making Course and Saddle Repair Course.

10) Last, what tools you’ll need then we will talk shop, leathers, machinery, patterns – plus how to find information you might need.

11) Upon completion of the Custom Saddle Making Course and Saddle Repair Course,  Note: some of this class will be hands-on and others

will be through distance learning.  In this manner you will have the best of both worlds.


Saddle Repair and Custom Saddle Making Course Cost $11,000.00

Taken in one 14 week slot.


Lastly, remember I’m always an Email or Phone Call away to help and advise you.


______ Ed ‘Oak’ Mathieus

Upon successful completion of our Oak Brand Leather saddler’s training course, you will be inducted into out OBL Saddler’s Club and presented with this OBL official certificate of graduation.

Notice your cert will have my professional mark of authenticity – my OBL maker stamp.

Click pic below for full-size image.

My Leather Conditioner Tips – Since 1969

First let me say this oiling and conditioning is NOT one I recommend unless you are very careful. This is ‘The Technique ‘ I use when restoring very old leather. I sell O.B. L. Restoration Professional Kits for this use. I will state again, it is for the attentive and careful person.

Older saddles are sun tanned darker patina. Sometimes in older dried leather the dirt, sweat, and other stains may be deep into the leather. If leather is hard where you try to bend it, then before you crack or break it do the following: Oil the leather good with U82. First let it set over night then repeat the process until the leather is pliable.

Let it set another night in a temperature at 70 degrees. I use a fan which allows for even drying.

Now the time is right to saddle soap with a sponge or soft brush. Saddle soap with water running until the dirt stops working out of the leather. Before you stop oiling the leather while wet, oil evenly, watch oil move into the leather (absorbing). If this is absorbed fast, then oil again and continue until the oil stands or surface then rinse off with water.

Now, fully apply the saddle soap again.
Last, flex the leather……it should bend gently.
Now oil again and let it set.
You must keep an eye on the leather item for most of the time it’s drying and I use a fan.

Do not dry in sunlight when dry. I mix water with neutralizer and dampen all leather evenly afterwards. I rub in the first light coat of Oak Brand Leather Conditioner and let dry over night, but check on the leather periodically when dry about (12 hours ), by using a fan. Rub the Oak Brand Leather Conditioner in and start to target areas which look dryer or if a grayish cast is in the leather apply on spot until it’s gone. Now set 12 hours again, now the leather is dry and should be supple.

Buff the leather with a terry cloth. You should find your leather has a lustrous shine. You may now condition monthly depending on your climate or dryness. To condition your leather, one coating, like applying cream to your hands monthly is advised for normal use.

Professional restoration Kit with Oil, Neutralizer and Conditioner, Price: $59.95

(Contents include: 1 Half Gallon – U82,

1. Pint Conditioner,

4 ounce Neutralizer

1 Pint Saddle Soap

1 Brush

1 Sponge

1 Terry Cloth

1 DVD Disk

1 Pamphlet

(price includes shipping within USA)

Instructional Video soon.

If you have questions, Email Oak Brand Leather at: ed@oakbrandleather.com or fill out this contact form.

Thanks, ___ Ed ‘Oak’ Mathieus

Partners / Contractors / Design / Training

Oak Brand Leather

Is a company which has the background to help you in caring for your leather. In addition, we offer our

in all areas of leather custom building and industry manufacturing. As in most areas now, the old

(correct way) of caring for leather or the ”True Quality finish of long ago Lost Technique” has been set aside for incorrect,

quick application finishing products that create multiple leather deterioration and problems.

I am blessed in my expertise and love building and designing saddles and custom leather projects.

Trust me, nothing speaks more than the men and women who love and work as craftsmen with

of long ago and today. Though they have passed on to our final home, they still can be

heard in their work which tells of their craftsmanship and love in what they did and the joy of

leaving a part of their life to be remembered and cherished. I think we should take care of it as

they would ask us to do, so use a product that will do what it says it will do.

OakBrand Leather Conditioner was developed by a master saddle maker,

saddle repairman and designer of 43 years with degree and true knowledge from our past saddle makers and craftsmen.

While I have been blessed to learn, share and carry on a true heritage, I give all the glory and thanks to God.


Below we have divided our leather work into the following sections:

1 Partners – (people with whom we’ve worked).

2 Leather design – professional quality leather collaboration and design.

3 Contractors – assorted contractors with whom we’ve worked.
4 Students – with whom we’ve trained.

Companies with whom we’ve worked:

Chester’s Western Wear – Oklahoma

Larry Fare’s Western Wear – Oklahoma

Mike’s Custom Saddles – Oklahoma

Martin Saddlery – Texas

Billy Cook Saddlery – Oklahoma

M.L. Leddy’s Saddle & Boots – Texas

Cowboy Tack – Texas

Longhorn Saddlery – Texas

Muzquiz Western Outfitters – Mexico

We offer an extensive list of professional credentials with our quality leather design work.
We have designed for:

Cris Cox – Texas

Teskey’s – Texas

Action Company – Texas

Paul Taylor’s Saddlery – Texas

Cowboys Western Supply – Louisiana

Equibrand – Texas

Dover Saddles – New York

Cowboy’s Professional Rodeo – Texas

Triple Horn Saddlery – Germany

Cashel Saddlery – Chehalis, Washington

Martin Saddlery – Texas

In addition, the companies above represent some of the finest men and women involved in our western heritage in sales, manufacturing, custom saddles, tack and more.

______ Ed ”Oak” Mathieus

Contracting done for assorted Las Vegas casinos:

During the years from 1991- 2005, Oak Brand Leather designed, contracted, and did specialty leather design projects for the majority of Las Vegas, Nevada Casino chains:

Bellagio Hotel & Casino

Station Hotel & Casinos

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Luxor Hotel & Casino

Excalibur Hotel & Casino

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

Marnell Carrara Casino Construction Co.

These are only a few of the Las Vegas Casinos we contracted for over the years.
Oak Brand Leather can handle any design or contract related to leather, western heritage or design.

In addition to consulting, manufacturing and other expertise assistance, we also offer a leather training division. Below are people (our students) and agencies with whom we have taught the leather trade.

Saddle, Tack & Repair Diploma(s)/Certificate(s) awarded to the following:

Warner Stuckleburk Triple Horn, Germany

Robbin Brunk – Vassile Saddle Co., California

Larry Church – O.S.I., Oklahoma

Marvin Christmas – Christmas Saddles, Oklahoma

Jeff Stalls (Deceased) worked for Severe Saddle Tree & Saddles, Nevada

Doug Gallia – Desert Saddlery, Nevada