How to care for your handcrafted gear
Tips to maintain and keep the 'new' a little longer on your buckles, bits, and spurs.
Almost all my pieces are made from carbon steel. Over time, and with general use, your steel buckles, bits and spurs will develop an oxidized or lightly rusted surface patina. This is generally a desired patina and should be maintained, but not removed completely as you are removing part of the material. On bits, horses enjoy the rusted surface of the sweet iron mouthpieces and this should not be removed.
I offer four finish or patina options.; Antique Brown, Gun Blue, French Grey, and Polished. Finishes are a personal preference; there is not one that is more popular than another. However, Antique Brown is probably the most durable.
Outlined below is a tip list for the general care of your buckles, bits and spurs.
GENERAL CARE TIPS:
- Treat your gear like you would treat a high-quality firearm.
- Remove spurs from your boots when you’re not horseback. i.e.- when you get in the pickup, and/or before you come inside at the end of each day.
- Clean off any wet material (mud, dung, saliva, grass, etc) from the surface of your spurs or bit before it dries.
- Use a semi soft bristled brush, like an old toothbrush, with dish soap and water to remove dirt or other dried material from the surface and from around silver mountings.
- Wipe dry with a clean towel or rag to remove any moisture or residues that might tarnish or rust the metal.
- Use a light coat of mineral oil to eliminate squeaks or to free up part movement - product.
- To sanitize a bit, soak or wipe the mouthpiece and inside cheek pieces with a good antiseptic mouthwash. I have always had good results with cinnamon or mint flavored mouthwash. My horses liked the hint of flavor it left behind.
- Store bits and spurs in a cool, dry place.
- When rowels or mouthpiece hinges start to wobble, consider getting them tightened or replaced before they wear into the shanks.
Depending on the amount of use your bit or spurs receive throughout the year will determine how often this process is used.
- Remove all leather (spur straps, headstalls, belts). Clean the metal with mixture of dish soap and warm water, using a semi-soft bristled brush to scrub clean any mud, dung, saliva, grass, etc. If needed, use an abrasive material, like #0000 steel wool, but be careful. It can mar your finish and promote rusting.
- Once clean, rinse thoroughly and wipe dry with a clean cloth.
- If you have a Gun Blued finish, you can touch up the worn spots with a gun bluing touch up product. I recommend Oxypho Blue, but Birchwood Casey’s Perma-Blue is more widely available. (product). Be sure and follow the products directions
- When completely dry, apply a thin layer of mineral oil or another non toxic oil (product) to the surface, mouthpiece, and moving parts.
- Spurs can be oiled with any gun cleaning oil (product) as they do not make contact with the horses mouth; however mineral oil or another non toxic oil will work as well.
- Wipe the piece down with a soft cleaning cloth (microfiber, old t-shirt, etc) to remove the clouded oil. Use a dry cloth to remove as much of the oil as possible.
- Jewelry silver polishing paste or polishing cloths can be used directly on the silver overlays to maintain its shine. - product.
- A black Sharpie pen works well to antique the engraving. Cover the area completely with the Sharpie ink. The ink flows down into the lines and adds contrast. Wipe the ink off the surface with a rag or paper towel. A large pink eraser, the square kind we used as kids, works great too.