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689H horsehide jacket

i've looked at several horsehide jackets over time, but my one year old 689H schott tracker is the first one i've owned and worn.  i bought it new.  i have some observations i want to share, and some questions as well.  as a result of reading in several posts and websites that horsehide is waterproof, i've worn my 689H through rain and snow, walking the dog, working, etc..  not one time, has it become soaked through.  from what i can see, it appears waterproof, or at least, extremely water resistant.  now, i read an answer to an earlier post, from gail, (who, after working for schott for 26yrs., and sounding very experienced, as i'm sure she is)  that getting any schott leather jacket wet is not recommended.  this is kind of throwing me for a loop, as i've been subscribing to the theory that getting it wet helps open the grain of the leather.  i was under the impression that this would help wrinkle it up and make it become soft and pliable, which, on the surface anyway, it appears to be doing.  i would like to hear some opinions from people who are more knowledgeable than me on this subject.  also, i'm interested in hearing about how schott has their horsehide tanned.  i've read that in the old days, it  was quite a process, in some cases, even using a controlled shrinking process, to make the hide more dense and strong.  my last observation is that i believe the pieces of hide could be examined a bit more closely before construction begins, to get a better match.  my jacket is really not  bad at all.  however, i've looked at several horsehide jackets, including schotts, where one sleeve wrinkles and the other is smooth.  one side of the body has a light pebbling, and the other side is smooth and shiny, producing a nice wrinkled checkering pattern over time, while the pebbled side is dull in comparison, and the wrinkling pattern is very different .  it seems to me more attention in this area would result in a much more consistant looking jacket, be it the one that is shinier, or the one that remains a bit more dull.  i don't know how important these little details are to others, but they are important to me.  if it ends up being a cost consideration, why not offer one or two premium models?  sorry this is so long.  are you out there gail?

Gail on 12/08/08 at 01:21 PM

Horsehide does have alot of finished applied to the leather so it does protect the leather well. But as the jacket ages and becomes more broken-in and the finish starts wearing off in the creases etc. the leather itself can start to absorb the moisture. I guess it depends on the individual and if you want to maintain the jacket the best way. Continually getting a leather jacket wet can dry out the leather. I can caution and recommend what is best, but you may find getting the jacket exposed is causing no harm to your jacket.

On tanning of the horsehide, I really do not not know the procedure of tanning hides. We request the color, weight and finish we want on a hide and the tanners will supply the leather to meet our specifcations.

Horses have a much finer and softer hair than cow so the follicle openings are smaller by comparison. When tanning horsehide, a very smooth texture can be achieved. Horses today lead a comparatively stress free life and are not exposed to harsh conditions in general. As a result, the horsehides are generally damage or scar free which makes for a visually astetic garment.  Horsehide can often be boardy and stiff with very little give to the leather. Once fully matured, horses are not inclined to expand their body size tremendously. This causes tensile weakness. In other words, horsehide may be thick but can rip easily because the fibers holding it together are denser than they are flexible. 

If we cut each part of this coat from only the front shoulder section of multiple horsehides, we still wouldn't get the perfect jacket.
First, each horse has lived it's own individual lifespan. Some horsehides are 60 sq ft, others are down to 34 sq ft. This indicates a mix of both old and young, strong and weak, well fed and skinny animals.
In addition to the age and stress related issues that come with each individual animal hide, the hide develops the natural creases of the skin from body movement of the horse and this cannot be avoided in the skin. Gail

CLUTTERKNIVES on 12/08/08 at 03:59 PM

i didn't realise there was alot of finish applied to horsehide.  i think i'll just go ahead and follow your advice and start taking a little better care of my jacket.  i'm very happy with this jacket, in general, and would like it to last forever.

spira on 01/15/09 at 02:55 PM

Hello there. I just received my new 689H, and I was hoping that you might be able to post some photos of what yours looks like after over a year of use. I didn't realize this jacket was going to be so... shiny. I'm thinking it's mostly due to the finish applied to the leather, and I'm hoping it will wear off soon after it starts getting broken in. Also, how is your jacket after some breaking in? Mine is stiff as a board now, so I'm hoping it softens up quite a bit... Thanks!

Mh54480 on 02/11/19 at 07:55 AM

Spira I just got my 613sh and still breaking it in.  How is yours holding up?  

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