Latigo leather is cowhide leather, tanned twice to make a rigid but pliable material. It is known for its durability. In Spanish, latigo translates into “whip,” which was the original purpose of this tanned leather. Latigo is well-known in the modern saddle industry, as it is the name for the strap securing the cinches to the saddle rigging. A strap is “suspended from a latigo ring (or rigging ring), one on the near or on-side (el latigo) and sometimes one on the off-side of a single rigged saddle; on a double-rigged saddle there is also a second (flank) cinch. Some saddles have an off-side billet to secure the cinch instead of a second latigo.1” In addition, the leather strings used to tie ropes or bedrolls are also called latigos. The leather’s strength and flexibility is also ideal for saddle strings, utility belts, reins and headstalls.
How does latigo withstand extreme outdoor weather?
Latigo leather is created by a combination tanning method, beginning with chrome tanning. The leather is drum dyed, and then is vegetable tanned. To ensure the color will show all the way through the hide, various steps are taken to increase the amount of oil and wax the hide will hold. There are multiple steps to “stuff” the leather with wax, oil and/or fat:
- Fat-liquored– A retanned hide nourished with emulsified fats and/or oils.
- Wet-Stuffing– The introduction of a rich blend of emulsifiable oils to the leather.
- Hot-stuffing– The process of adding wax, oils and/or fats to the leather. The additives are solid at room temperature.
Latigo is manufactured in a variety of weights, depending on its final product usage. Weights range from 3 to 12 ounces. Colorations include black, browns and red, but brighter colors may be created by bleaching the hide before drum dying and applying the pigment. While latigo is workable, it is not ideal for embossing or stamping.
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