Question for those of you who drive ?

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1 is not enough

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2004
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Friendly Manitoba, Canada
Hi all, I am very much a novice driver, I was wondering how often you clean your harness? I have been just wiping it off with a dry towel, should I be doing more and with what ( it's leather).

Next lines are too short, can I get them made longer?

Will it look ok, will it be safe or would it be better just to get now ones?


I don't clean my harnesses everytime I use them, but do put them away so they do not collect dust. I watch how they look and clean them when they start to get gunky on the inside by the horse from their sweat and dirt. I always clean them before showing or using them for cart rides or parades. They get a really good cleaning then using a good leather cleaner/conditioner and cleaner for the hardware as well. No point in cleaning the leather if the buckles are tarnished--job just isn't finished. We usually use a product called 'leather new' for cleaning. It comes in a cleaning formula and a conditioning formula. I have also used neatsfoot brand products. Most of these are at the local farm stores like farm & fleet or rural king.

As for the lines, I would hesitate to try to make them longer myself. If you found someone that made harnesses and they were to sew an extension on, you would probably be ok. Otherwise, I would probably just get a new set as it would probably be just about the same cost.

Good luck and have fun driving.

I clean mine everytime I go to a show! So...that works out to about 5-6 times or more a year. I do a 'deep-clean', which means I take it apart to the last piece and buckle, and scrub everything. Then I polish the brass(or whatever metal it is), and 1-2 times a year, depending on the dryness, I oil it.

Because we live in such a dry climate, I haven't any problems with mold/mildew, so leather, properly oiled and cleaned lasts literally forever. Ref's show harness is about 40+ years old, and the leather is still in excellent shape.

I find it is important to take the harness all apart--this shows you the wear points, the broken stitching/leather, and the bent/breaking buckles and hardware. Its important even with a synthetic--you should check out the whole thing at least once a year.

A dry cloth for dusting will help keep it cleaner for a lot longer, too.

Depending on the amount of time driving and the climate and the horse(ie: sweat amount), you should clean it about 2+ times a year(pref. more). I use a gylcerin saddle soap to clean(with damp sponge), then oil with a saddle/leather oil, then seal the leather against wet and damp with a wipe down of gylcerin. I then do the hardware with a metal polish and soft rag. There are many, many ways to clean and oil harness...what works for me may not work for you.

Yes, you can get them made longer...but I'd be lazy and just get new ones. It really depends on the condition of the current reins--are they 'like new' or worn?
Some of the neatsfoot oil products while are still good products will change the finish on your leather harness. If this is a matter of concern look at the gylcerine saddle soaps and leather conditioners and preservers other than neatsfoot oil.. We have used a product called Lexol for more years than I can remember.
I have also used Lexol for years with very good results. Really need to clean my harnesses and other leather stuff soon!! I don't always clean as much as I should...

Do keep most all my leather inside the house to keep them from getting dusty or having mold problems. Granted my house looks more like a Harness shop... ah well.
I like the look!!

For the Driving lines, it would most likely be cheaper to buy a new pair than have a local Harness maker splice and extened the lines you have now. Unless you live in Amish country.
I agree...just order a new set of lines, not that expensive and sure lot safer to have longer ones if they should happen to tug them out of your hands a bit when long lining them.

One thing I have noticed...and really some of the manufacturers are NOT putting a buckle at the end of the lines so you can hook them together...UGH....guess cost cutting...who knows. But...I paid like $450 for a new harness and the lines are little short and no buckle...the rest of the harness is wonderful. Some people dont like their lines to be buckled at the end, but I think its a safety issue, especially for new or young drivers. OK...its my pet

I hang my harness bag in the barn and work out of it everyday...just hang it back after I am done...leaving it unzipped and open so everything can dry....then I forget to zip it...and it gets before going to a show...we clean them with a damp soft towel, polish the hardware with "Mothers" OH MAN is that good'll clean up the worst..>WORST...dingy hardware poof!!! You can buy it at an auto supply store...comes in a white label...says "Nothing shines like Mothers"...has lil ole lady on the jar. (Tim..hubby...recommends I zip my harness bag so there isnt so much cleaning...I say I'm in/out of it so much...and its damp when I'm done working horses...that I can see where this conversation I treat the leather yearly...but you sure can end up with soggy, limp looking leather if you over treat it...especially in time.

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