Tack Leather Tanning
Hides are tanned to prevent rotting and to add suppleness. There are two main types of tanning: Chrome Tanning and Bark Tanning. Chrome tanning employs chemicals that can be detrimental to a horse when coming into contact with a horse’s sweat. Bark tanning uses only natural vegetable compounds.
Latigo refers to a specific type of oil-tanned leather and is usually burgundy in color. Harness leather is usually tan in color, thicker, and stronger.
Remember that leather is skin. It is dried meat. It has been oiled and protected from moisture by the tanning process, but if it is not cared for properly, it can revert to its dehydrated, or rotting former life.
To recondition your tack:
Clean it with a mild glycerin and water. Then use a pure neetsfoot oil (if you can find it) to reinvigorate and condition the oil back into the leather. While there are several products that will be fine to use, most saddle makers agree that your conditioning oil should be animal based and not vegetable, as that is the closest oil to the original animal fat produced by the cow. Finish it off with a rubbing of glycerin on a dry cloth again. This will help to protect and seal the leather without clogging the pores.