The Primary leather used in building Phoenix Rising Legacy and Imus 4-Beat® Saddles 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 all our saddles (excpet black) is not dyed, but oiled to a rich brown color. The black Legacy and 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.
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.