Imus 4-Beat® Saddle Leather
We often field questions about what kind of leather we use in our 4-Beat® Saddles. What will follow is detailed description of the leather that Phoenix Rising Saddles uses and also a comparison of other categories and qualities of leather that are on the market. What will become very evident is that not all leather is created equally, and we are proud to use only the finest hand selected full grain, vat dyed leathers in our 4-Beat® saddles.
The Primary leather used in building the 4-Beat® Saddle is Full Grain Leather. This is the best leather money can buy. The top layer of a hide is taken off and the natural markings and grain of the leather show through. This type of leather has depth and natural beauty to it. Full grain leather is the ONLY leather that will burnish (add a rich shine) over time.
Many full grain leather products will show natural markings and imperfections that were present on the hide. Our leather, however, is meticulously hand selected by our craftsmen to make sure that these imperfections are not present in the leather used to make our 4-Beat® saddles.
The leather used in the Pecan color 4-Beat® Saddle is not dyed, but oiled to a rich brown color. The black 4-Beat® leather is Vat Dyed. Vat dyed leather has a more consistent and rich color than those of more cheaply hand dyed leathers. Vat Dyed leather also does not tend to "sweat out" as profusely or for as long as hand dyed leather. Only two tanners in the U.S.A. still produce vat dyed hides because the process is time and labor intensive.
Different dye lots accept the oiling differently, so that some finished saddles appear slightly lighter in color than others of the "same" color, and may initially appear lighter than matching accessories such as breast collars and stirrups. However, with time and use the full grain leather will soften, darken and develop a beautiful patina that will then perfectly match the accessories.
Phoenix Rising Saddles is one of the very few western saddle companies that still uses full grain, vat dyed leather. Moreover, we are the ONLY company that offers a saddle within the 4-Beat® price range with full grain, vat dyed leather. Every other company within the same price range that we have researched uses top grain leather, genuine leather, or bonded leather for their saddles.
LEATHER TYPES WE DO NOT USE. . .
Top Grain Leather
Top grain leather is the second highest grade of leather. Top grain is split from the top layer of blemished hide and is sanded and refinished. It will not burnish and beautify with use.
Genuine leather is made from remaining hide after the top has been split off for the better grade leathers. These under layers are weaker and also known as suede. Not all suede is rough as it can be smoothed and refinished to resemble higher grade leather, although it has almost no durability.
(Many saddle companies use this type) Bonded leather is the bottom of the hide. Suede scraps are ground together with glue and resurfaced in a process similar to the manufacturing of vinyl. This type of leather is typically very weak and breaks down quickly, although at first sight it has a very real leather look.