Soaking a new bridle?

Hey all. I have a new show bridle and I have been oiling/conditioning it. Unfortunately, it’s still stiffer than I would like. Someone told me that they actually soak their new bridles in a gallon ziploc of oil (I didn’t ask her what kind, but Google searches say neatsfoot oil or olive oil). I have never heard of doing this. Has anybody tried it?

P.S. It’s a super dark brown (as is my saddle), so I’m not too worried about darkening it.

I have rescued ancient tack doing that but would never do it to quality modern tack. Back in the day my western reins came like beige cardboard and needed heavy oiling and bending to be usable.

Much lower price modern tack has a painted on finish that doesn’t absorb oil and doesn’t soften.

The better tack like Stubben Passier Anrares etc absorbs oil but does not benefit from being soaked.

So it totally depends on what kind of bridle you have.


It’s an Aramas. Not cheap, but not super expensive. Mid-level, I’d say.

I wouldn’t soak. Does it have multiple stitched layers? Most modern bridles do. They don’t get as soft as single flat strap old school bridles. Soaking in oil will just make te surface gummy or fragile but won’t soften it.


I soak mine in the wash stall floor. Then run it along the bars(weave?) of a stall. Then soak again. Then condition / oil. Works wonders!

Wash the bridle (with Murphy’s) rinse, and let it dry. Then get a 1" bristle brush and paint it with Weavers U-82 saddler’s oil. If it takes up all of your first application - repeat and so on. Finally polish with soft clean cloth. Weaver’s oil is great because it does not build up in the stitching like all those gooey neatsfoot concoctions.

I’ve had two Aramas bridles. When I get them, I oil them twice (not a ton of oil, but not a super light coat either), with about a day or two in between each coat. Then I condition with a deep conditioner (I use the Voltaire balsam). After that, I do a quick wipe down with a glycerin soap every time I ride. They always break in quickly that way and last a long time. I get compliments from everyone in my barn on how soft it feels.

Personally I wouldn’t soak them. I think you’ll over-oil them that way.

I agree with not soaking. It works for some, and I used to do it 20+ years ago… but I also detest using bridles that were soaked and over oiled, as they often feel too soft and worse - gummy/tacky/oily.

I find that I can get mine to the right level of pliability without the buildup by not just successively oiling and conditioning over time, but by using them. I oil and condition strap goods just enough to use them comfortably, then through use and gradual conditioning get them to where I want them over time. They break in quite nicely.

For initial series of oil for strap goods I rag or paint on neatsfoot and then roll and massage gently in my warm hands, let sit for 30m to an hour, then wipe off. Repeat a few times over the course of 1-2 days, and then let sit a few days in a warm place to let any residual oil absorb. Wipe again amd then condition. Once soft enough, I use the tack awhile, cleaning after each ride. In the beginning I like to use a conditioning soap like Belvoir with some regularity (daily/every other day), but then once tack is nice and supple, I switch to wiping with a damp rag most days and then clean/condition every few weeks and only oil as needed.

NOTE: I repeat the oil/condition/use cycle a few times, as necessary.

i use this product to remove the factory finish before painting leather. I’m pretty sure it would open up the leather to be receptive to oil also. Worth checking into…

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I soak, but only for a couple of hours, not overnight like we used to. My tack is all beautiful.

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Olive oil in the southeast where it is humid is a disaster. Trust me, I tried it and boy have I regretted it. Mold city.

I will soak stuff a couple of hours max in pure Neatsfoot oil, never ever ever any compounded Neatsfoot anything.

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I find with a lot of the newer tack that after I oil it, I have to ride in it quite a few times and then oil it again. I think the heat from the horse helps to soften the leather (my non-professional opinion).

I agree with everyone about needing to ride in it. Some good hard rides have really softened up my leather tack. I definitely wouldn’t soak it.

I did it as a teenager…uhhh except I put the olive oil and bridle in an open bucket and left it in the barn aisle and my friends Jack Russell thought that was a tasty treat…she oozed EVOO out of her butt for a week​:flushed::flushed::flushed:

Anywayyyy, my bridle was was super soft but did get gummy if it was humid for years after.

More recently I’ve just heated up the neatsfoot oil in the microwave and worked it in really well with my fingers on new bridles


The teenagers at the barn are constantly conditioning their saddles with one of those thick gooey conditioners. A few are doing it weekly. One of them was doing her saddle a couple of days ago. It looked sort of new. Two or three weeks she said. They think they are cleaning it. I don’t dare ask what they are using on the bridles. Leather has pores and if you overdo it you clog them up. I’ve been using saddle soap for years and I love it. I have an Albion dressage saddle built around 1999 and keeping it clean with the HorseTech soap is quick and easy, Same for my beautiful Stubben show bridle with delicate hand braided leather on the browband and noseband…

When I was a kid a long time ago we used to go to a leather shop on Cape Cod called the Blue Wheel. I still have a beautiful handbag and some belts that need some attention but not a lot. We bought them ca.1959. The owner told us you can tell the quality of leather by bending it backwards so you can see how wrinkled the tanned side is. The finer the wrinkling the better the leather.