What Is Bridle Leather?

What Is Bridle Leather?

Quality. Luxurious finish. Strong. High shine. Durable. These are all terms used to describe Bridle leather. So, what exactly is this leather?

Bridle Leather is a traditional vegetable tanned leather that has both the flesh and grain side of the leather stuffed with greases and finished with wax. This gives the leather an ultra-smooth appearance, both back and front. It also creates a softer, more pliable leather than veg tanning alone.

This is generally a labor intensive process, making it pricier than most tanning methods. Only the best grades of leather are treated like this, as it would be uneconomic to treat poor quality leather in this way. Because of this, few tanneries produce Bridle leather.

What is Bridle leather used for?

Bridle was originally created in the middle ages to be used as horse harnesses, Bridles, girths, and stirrups. Hence the name! Smoothing the back side of the leather was for the comfort of the animals, creating a softer surface that wouldn’t dig into or cling to their faces or necks.

However, that is not the only use for this leather. Being some of the most beautiful leather you can buy, it shouldn’t be relegated to a single usage!

With the stiffer temper giving it a ton of structure, you can make gorgeous bags and totes. It is a favorite amongst belt makers, not only because of its strength, but that it can be stamped and painted like natural veg tan.

Frankly, just about anything you would use regular vegetable tanned leather for, you can use Bridle. Wallets, straps, shoes, dog leash and collar sets, etc. And just like natural veg tan, Bridle will also develop a gorgeous patina overtime.

The bonus here is that Bridle comes in rich, warm colors with a high shine. That’s a couple less steps in finishing your leather goods as the leather is dyed and oiled on arrival.

Is Bridle leather strong?

Since this leather was created for horse riding, it has to be strong and durable in order to keep the riders safe! 

This leather can stand up to some of the most demanding use while maintaining it’s beauty. Holding someone’s pants up as a belt is way less stressful for the leather than keeping a person in charge of a moving animal. Meaning you can rest assured that your Bridle leather projects will be around for the long haul.

Are Bridle and Harness leather the same thing?

They sound like they might be, right? However, they are two different kinds of leather! They are both tanned and processed in nearly identical ways, but the key difference between them is oil content. 

Bridle is intended to have a softer feel and appearance, thus more oil and wax is applied to the leather during the tanning process. 

On the other hand, Harness leather is made primarily for strength. This means there is less oil and wax added to the hide to maintain the strength of the leather fibers. This also means Harness leather has a much stiffer temper and can be a bit harder to work with. 

Another key difference is in the weight/thickness of the two. Bridle typically comes in a variety of thinner thicknesses. Our selection ranges from 3-9 oz. Harness leather will be offered in thickness of 9-12+ oz. 

Due to the oiling process for Harness, it cannot be stamped like Bridle. So if you were wanting to add some custom stamping, Bridle is your best choice.

Those differences aside, both leathers offer weather resistance and strength and will ensure your leather projects stand the test of time!

Whether you’re making a dog leash or a fashionable handbag, Bridle leather has got you covered.

Here at The Leather Guy, you can pick up our Artisan’s Choice Bridle in five colors and a variety of sizes. Don’t need a whole side? Grab a 12X12 pre-cut! Need something a bit bigger? Get yourself a 7SF project piece.

If you’ve never worked with Bridle before, treat yourself to a new and incredibly high quality leather. It is sure to elevate your projects and leave your recipients and customers amazed at your handiwork.

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