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breaking in horsehide

i am trying to find the best way to break-in a horsehide jacket.  i know that horsehide is very tough.  wearing the jacket all the time is the best way. my question is :  can the jacket be treated with something like mink oil or neetsfoot oil to help soften the hide and speed up the break-in process?  please advise.

thank you, leapingknome

Gail on 03/05/07 at 01:12 PM

I have never heard of any product that will break in horsehide or any other leather fast. Mink oil will keep the leather conditioned not soften it. I do not believe there is a quick way to break-in any leather jacket other than wearing the jacket. The more you wear the jacket the faster it will become broken-in. It can take a long time, depending on how often you wear in, that is why many people do not want to part with their old broken-in jackets. Gail

wolverine on 03/05/07 at 04:20 PM

If you use any type of leather conditioner like Lexol or neatsfoot oil it will soften the HH but it will also weaken the fibers in the leather and make it easier to tear your jacket, this may be why the people at Schott do not like you to condition their jackets(unless they are older and dried out or if you get caught in the rain and your jacket feels stiff AFTER it has completely dried).  But anyone who has put on a new jacket made with 3.5 oz.+ HH knows how stiff and uncomfortable they can be.  It is kind of a catch 22 situation.

One method I used on a couple jackets was to turn them inside out and just crush/wring and ball up the jacket(this idea came from Oren Schott who pointed out in one of his blogs that these jackets are stitched together better than medicine balls and you could stuff your jacket and throw it around the home for a while).  Not only will this soften the hand of the HH but it will also bring out more of the natural grain and dull out some of the shine.  This shiny HH looks like fake plastic when its brand new because of the applied finish.  For those of you who are reading this and bought a Schott jacket made with their midweight HH you are probably scratching your heads and thinking what is the big deal...the midweight HH feels broken in the first time you wear it so just realize that there is a big difference with the different weights.

Good luck with whatever you decide,  you have yourself one awesome jacket!!!!




sundowner on 05/06/16 at 06:23 PM

Took  the jacket and laid it down in the drive way of gravel and get in the pick up truck and run over it a 100 times, That  worked and also made it battle worn,,lol

Man looking at setting sun

mysteryo on 05/07/16 at 03:31 AM

Corto Maltese

wolverine on 05/07/16 at 12:37 PM

WOW...or holly cr*p...that's definitely a method.  Just hope all the zippers still work.  


So I have branched out a bit and come up with other break in methods.  The crushing works but it's a bit labor intense...I tried it on my Context CLX and it just did not get the jacket soft enough for me...if you have a 629 or P629 which are both factory vintaged, just crushing did not come close to how those heavyweight jackets feel.


I used my home dryer on no heat cycle with some tennis balls.  I ran it through 4 cycles (about 3 hours) and the jacket was better...I removed the belt buckle to prevent it from banging away.  This got my jacket about 75% broken in and did not cause any damage.  After that I contacted the good folks at Schott and they ran it in their tumbler for an hour or two.  Now the jacket is better, not as soft as the 629 but closer.  If I had to do it again I would just stick with the house dryer...on NO HEAT and tumble for another 3-4 hours.  You need to check it after each can also tape the zipper heads if you really want to get fancy...definitely remove the belt buckle.


also keep in mind that the outer finish will eventually get dinged up.  On the Horween, since there is no applied finish it will just look a little darker and this will start along the folded edges of the jacket first.  With the Italian HH you need to be more careful since it has an applied finish that can and will wear off.  In the case of a jacket made with either steer or horse that has an applied finish the crushing method is always the safer way to go....then the dryer...then the driving over it with a pickup :)

richgreene on 05/07/16 at 05:54 PM

I also throw mine in the dryer on Cool with a couple pairs of Chuck Taylors

And Then after its loosened up a bit, Lend it to a family member to wear for a year !!

TheRealWolverine on 05/15/19 at 01:25 AM

Hi. You guys really need to understand the value of horse. These working animals are beautiful and strong and serve humans needs in many ways and it shows when a tired horse is put down to leather. The shine is a quality that is what the horse stands for in all its glory. It’s race thin and lightweight but dense. A quality tanned Horsehide will form the second you put it on. The key for me was fresh out of the box, zip it up and do some stretching. Flex your arms and cross them stretching the back. The shine will calm down in two weeks if you wear it in bed. Your lady will think you’re a total freak, but after all, you did spend at least $1000 on a jacket, so you are. I let mine tan in the sun daily and watch how it changes daily. Patina will vary depending on the maker and the tanning processes. It’s important to really take your time when searching a HH. Japanese vegetable tanned Shinki Hikaku has to me the very best HH. Let it get wet. Oil it after a year of wear. I use  Throw it around, don’t Baby it. See more at my Instagram to see my progression and treatment tactics. 

TheRealWolverine on 05/15/19 at 01:28 AM

Insta “Milesdeathescape”

Ricno1 on 05/16/19 at 09:26 AM

I took my new horsehide jacket and put it in the washing machine. Warm water not hot. I ran it through inside out and again inside in.

l did not use any soap or detergent. After two cycles l removed the jacket and let it dry out in a cool dry area. When dry l wiped it with a cloth with baby oil. Very light coat.

After wearing it about a month after that it was comfortable and soft.

TheRealWolverine on 05/18/19 at 02:18 PM

Washing your leather is the dumbest idea ever. Only people who wear schott would do that

TAT2MAN on 05/19/19 at 09:43 AM

Tumbling in a cool drier can "loosen up" the jacket. Roll it up, sit on it, scrunch it up. It will start to break in but nothing is better then just wearing it! You'll get looks from everyone as you WEAR IT EVERYWHERE! Forget you even own other jackets. Wear it!

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