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Step 1:
Dismantle all harness parts. Make up a solution of 3 parts lukewarm water to 1 part baking soda or Mr. Clean. Wipe down all the harness and buckles using a damp sponge. Dirt under the buckles acts like sandpaper, so be thorough. Do a complete safety check while removing soil. All stress points should be checked for excessive wear. The parts that wear the most are usually the bridle and rein billets, both due to contact with the acid in the saliva. Also look for broken loops or keepers, cut straps, cracked leather, bent tongs, broken stitching and worn buckles.

Step 2:
Leather dries out and you may have to feed it to restore its suppleness. Use a product that both you and your harness maker trust. Stay away from heavy oils and linseed products. They do not let the leather breath and will rot the stitches. If the leather does not need treating, saddle soap will make the harness more pliable and give you a fresh base to put a nice shine with harness polish. Black saddle soap is really the best for black harness. You can use Oakwood leather conditioner on brown harness.

Step 3:
Clean all the brass buckles meticulously. Try to do a really great job. Take a lot of time. The more elbow grease you put into it now the easier it will be to maintain later on. Do every nook and cranny with the brass polish you like the best and then buff up with a soft cloth to a bright luster. Check out your polishing, if the job’s not great, do it again! End off with a light coating of polish on all the buckles and LEAVE IT ON!

Step 4:
Apply black harness polish sparingly on leather, being careful not to pack it into the stitching. This is only a finishing coat. Penetration of the polish color is so minimal that the shine is strictly cosmetic and cannot harm or imbalance the pH level of the leather. Buff briskly until shiny. Use a little water when buffing.

Step 5:
Use a little soap and water on a damp sponge on the patent leather. Wipe off all excess water. Use a non-silicone spray product like Endust or Pledge to shine the patent. DO NOT use Armorall, Vaseline or brass polish on the patent leather. Never spray directly on patent- always spray on a rag, then apply.

Step 6:
Now you can wipe off the last layers of brass polish you put on the buckles, and store your harness until ready for use. Hanging it up is really the best method of storage, but you can wrap it up and keep it in a trunk as long as it is away from ammonia fumes.


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