Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oil and Leather and Tack, Oh MY!

For Christmas my beloved husband got me a saddle. I also got an English bridle for Mary so that Sparrow can use the bits-n-pieces bridle I cobbled together and she can use her own instead of having to constantly readjust between work. I've been waiting to get in to town and pick up some leather oil and with the holidays and Tsu being on call and... well I haven't been to town in a few weeks, literally. At least not the BIG town. So I had to go drop Pony Jr. at her dad's house and swing by the library (two books about belly dance and one about hoof problems, hehe) so I decided to stop by the old hardware store and see if they had any harness oil.

This old hardware store is dark, over crowded with stuff older than I am, and has the oddest mix of junk you ever saw in a hardware store. They have dog food, bird seed, pine tar, and a 14 inch horse collar, not to mention crocks for making sour kraut in and electric space heaters and who even knows what else.

Sure enough, right next to a goat collar and a calf halter and a bundle of scrap leather there was a bottle of Fiebing's Neatsfoot compound. JACKPOT! And surprisingly, it was not over priced. Probably because they priced it 22 years ago when they first stuck it on the shelf, lol. I blew a layer of dust from the top and took it to pay for it. I told the guy (great grandson of the original owner of the store, with the same name, Daniel Orr) how glad I was to see they had it. He laughed and said he grew up in that store and he is still startled some times by the stuff he didn't know they had in there.

I got home and happily spread out my ratty old felt blanket that I use to keep oil, sick dogs, and what ever else off of the carpet. I grabbed a new paint brush from my craft supplies, an old jam jar, and a holey sock. Then, with a ridiculous amount of delight, I collected up all the tack I needed to oil and spread it out on the blanket. It didn't need cleaning, heaven knows I keep it clean enough. At the most it might get dusty. I took every piece apart so I could coat the leather well on both sides. Then I opened the bottle of neatsfoot oil and took a deep breath before pouring some into the jam jar and dipping my brush in to it.

It's amazing how a smell can take you back in time, take you to a place you long to go again. The smell of the leather and the oil for a split second took me back... back to a small barn with a fire place in the tack room, a black leather harness, and a huge bay and white draft cross named Trooper who would stand watching me through the doorway as if his sun rose and set on me.

Ah, the sweet smell of nostalgia!

So I spent my evening, and part of today, oiling up tack long over due for oiling, and softening and oiling my new saddle, and thinking about the past and the future. I guess that is kind of fitting, on this last day of the year.

So now my equipment is once again as soft as butter and my hands smell like neatsfoot oil. The snow is falling slowly outside my window, the dog is whining to go out because she saw one of the barn cats cross the yard and she wants an excuse to bark at it. And I feel hopeful. I look back over the past year and think what a roller coaster ride it has been. But I am happier, healthier and have more hope than I have in a long time. I can hardly wait to see what the new year brings.


  1. I hear you, cleaning tack is like mood therapy for me. I love to care for my tack. Unfortunately, with my schedule and resposibilities these days, the time for that is a luxury I can't afford. Much of my everyday tack is Wintec and synthetic. And while I love it, it's not exactly the same.

    Tanner's oil, Neatsfoot, Lexol, Leather New and Murphy's oil soap are the classics I swear by. Each have their own distinct smell and you are right, if you used them in the past, they will bring the memories back.

  2. Great blog! Are you saving for a gypsy horse? Someday that is one of the horses I would love to own-they are so beautiful. My 2 daughters have a 3 year old half gypsy and half shetland pony who is just awesome. Anyway, I look forward to reading more soon. . .

  3. SolitaireMare said...

    "I hear you, cleaning tack is like mood therapy for me. I love to care for my tack."

    So do I. When my hands were bad it was painful to clean tack and I actually missed it. My friends are sure that is a sign of mental illness. ;-)

    Melissa said...

    "Are you saving for a gypsy horse?"

    Yes! I have a specific one in mind, too. But if it looks like it won't be able to happen I will probably be looking for a Halflinger instead.