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Whether you're investing in new horse tack or beginning a leatherworking project, choosing the right type of leather is essential. Tough, durable harness leather and soft, flexible latigo leather are two common leather types that can be used in a variety of situations.
Uses and Characteristics
Harness leather gets its name from its most common usage -- the making of harnesses -- though it is also used in collars, saddles and belts. This type of leather contains heavy tallows, making it durable, heavy and thick. Harness leather is often made without dyes, preserving the natural color of the hide. Latigo leather is softer and more supple than harness leather, but still very strong. It is commonly used for a variety of horse tack, including straps and cinches, along with saddlery, pet collars and belts.
How It's Made
Harness leather is usually made from cowhide, though harness leather made from pigskins is sometimes used in saddle seats. Latigo leather is made exclusively from cowhide. The process used to transform raw hide into harness leather is known as vegetable tanning, and uses tannin derived from plant matter to give the leather firmness and weight. Latigo leather is created using either vegetable tanning, chrome tanning or combination tanning. Chrome tanning uses chromium salts to create a soft, mellow hide. Combination tanning uses a combination of both methods.
When Richard Corrigan isn't writing about the outdoors, he's probably outside experiencing them firsthand. Since starting out as a writer in 2009, he has written for USA Today, the National Parks Foundation and LIVESTRONG.com, among many others, and enjoys combining his love of writing with his passion for hiking, biking, camping and fishing.