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What is it about horsehide?

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by ForestForTheTrees, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. ForestForTheTrees

    ForestForTheTrees One of the Regulars

    I've developed a strong preference for Horween's Chromexcel hide. I have numerous shoes/boots made with the stuff as well as one jacket. All of those examples are of steerhide as opposed to horsehide. My next jacket is going to be horsehide Chromexcel, but to be honest, I only went with horsehide because it was cheaper than the steerhide. I've actually handled the hide (I ordered the hides directly through Horween) and while I'm sure it will make a great jacket, there's a part of me second guessing myself, wishing I had invested a bit more for the steerhide CXL. I'd love to have a pair of shoes constructed of Horween's Shell Cordovan horsehide. However, when it comes to jackets, I personally find Horween's steerhide to every bit as desirable as their horsehide.

    I'm a bit perplexed that horsehide has developed the mystique that it has around here. I used to think that some folks were drawn to horsehide because of the grain of the product, but the whole Aero situation has shown that the two hide types are practically indistinguishable from one another when the final product is examined. For those that have owned both quality steerhide and horsehide and have developed a preference for horsehide, I'd be interested to know what is it about the horsehide that you prefer? Did you develop this preference over time?
  2. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Perceived exclusivity has a lot to do with it. If aluminium was rarer than gold, it'd be worth more. As well as rarity, there's the perception that horse was much more common back in the day, so it has "vintage accuracy" points. With A2s, horse was the original spec, which makes it more popular than goat among many fans and collectors. I love my fqhh jackets, though I don't consider them to be inherently superior to the steer and goat I have from the same maker.
  3. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    After studying Gary Eastman's new A2 bible, it would seem that many original A2s were steer, and that the government contracts had passed that hide as being acceptable.

    So maybe, in time, steer will become as valued to the connoisseur as horse:D
  4. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    I would be interested in seeing some examples of HH next to goat. How do they compare weight-wise? If you were going to have a summer-weight jacket, which would you go for?
  5. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

    I'm no expert, but the ones I've seen seem to be a similar weight, but the goat seems a softer hide.

    The A2 was considered a summer jacket (it was layered under shearlings in winter), so I guess either would do.
  6. Aerojoe

    Aerojoe Practically Family

    Maybe horsehide is perceived as more authentic when it comes to A2 jackets and others.

    Right now, all my keepers happen to be goat skin. I didn't select them on purpose.
  7. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

  8. Dr H

    Dr H One Too Many

    Veg tanned goatskin is significantly lighter than most forms of horsehide (and better wearing). For the last few years I have preferred capeskin or goatskin as summer jackets (e.g. capeskin A-1 jackets by Eastman or Good Wear, goatskin Good Wear A-2 Perry Sportswear 23377 or Doniger jackets). I've tried horsehide (I had a terrific Good Wear Perry Sportswear 42-16175-P), but it was just too heavy/warm during the summer months.
  9. Aerojoe

    Aerojoe Practically Family

    What did it happen to this jacket? Do you keep it?
  10. Dr H

    Dr H One Too Many

    I've had two horsehide GW Perry 42-16175-P A-2 jackets (one russet, one seal) and an original (44) - sold them all to VLJF members.
    The GW russet had seen some hot water treatment in the past and was a bit snug in the chest; I didn't get on with the seal (too dark for my taste). I needed a regular wearer and the vintage Perry was too good for daily wear.
  11. Aerojoe

    Aerojoe Practically Family

    Ok :) The Perry 42-16175-P is one of my favourite A2 contracts.
  12. Plumbline

    Plumbline Practically Family

    I'm another who prefers chrome tanned steer to horse on jackets ..... but then somewhat abnormally I prefer medium weight ( both horse and steer) to the really heavy variants. I think it's very personal and depends how the hide wears ... my experience of Horweens Chrome Tanned Steer is that it ages amazingly and quite quickly whereas FQHH takes ages to soften and age ... even Jerky HH takes ages. Vintage HH is a bit like cheating since it's tumbled to make it more pliant and softer but it doesn't have that sheen of Chrome Tanned hide.

    Goat is incredibly durable and soft from the get go but doesn't really have the weight and drape of steer or horse ( great for an A1 / A2 / Bomber / USN jacket - G1 M422a though ) .... I seem to recall John Chapman posting pics of a STUNNING capeskin A1 on VLJ

    For me on most jackets it's steer that ages best .... but EVERYONE should have at least one FQHH jacket in their lives just to pit your wits against it in the breaking in process :) :) :)
  13. trapp

    trapp A-List Customer

    I think many have come to prefer horsehide because they've been told that its preferable. As mentioned, nobody can tell the difference between quality horse and quality steer, except for a few experts. The issue at Aero has born that out beyond any reasonable doubt.
  14. pak

    pak One of the Regulars

    I prefer goat over steer and HH. All of these comparisons make me wonder about pigskin and why it isn't in the picture.
  15. St. Valentine

    St. Valentine A-List Customer

    Very interesting thread! It tells a lot about the fine people here on the FL that even a "holy cow" (or should I say "holy horse") can be slaughtered without the usual fighting that would start in other forums.

    Back to topic: While I find myself constantly staring in the direction of a HH-A2 I am not so sure about it after reading here. I still have an old Avirex of which I am not sure if it´s steer or HH, but dang is that jacket heavy! :eeek: Wearing my goat-A2 is much more comfortable for me, especially when sitting in the car.
    Additonally I find it quit disturbing that it seems to be so difficult to distinguish HH and steer from each other up to the point where customers were deceived when buying a jacket. Saying that I am not sure if I will give HH a try after all some day but these informations and oppinions are enlightening indeed! :eusa_clap
  16. JLStorm

    JLStorm Practically Family

    I prefer steer as I like the heavier weight hides a available and the deeper grain that can be found. However, i seem to recall several conversations stating that oz per oz fqhh was stronger and more protective than steer. Its a moot point in most cases since steer has a heavier oz weight anyway. But if one was looking for strength and wanted to save weight it seems to have its merits, although i think goat hide is more durable than both and has more elasticity?

    Then of course there is the whole fqhh is naturally more water resistant than steer. Although Areo claims the chrome tanning process makes both hides equally water resistant, many who ride in the rain swear there is a difference.
  17. schitzo

    schitzo Suspended

    Breaking in my FQHH jacket wasn't such a big deal. Just a few weeks of wearing it for a couple of hours each night while I was driving around and it was soft and comfortable. I suppose the trouble is people typically don't spend that long wearing their jackets, plus when they do they're not really doing anything in them
  18. Dr H

    Dr H One Too Many

    That might be mine - a test jacket of an early A-1 pattern with buttons instead of snaps at the waist and a single collar button.
  19. I've never enjoyed having sore shoulders from wearing a jacket, so I don't like heavy steer or horse. The heavy bullhide of vintage German leather jackets is insufferable. I tried on Paddy's Aero barnstormer (in one of their horse variants; not sure which)many years ago, and frankly it turned me off the brand. Too heavy, by far.

    A nice lightweight horsehide or goat hide jacket with a good heavy woolen lining for winter, and a rayon lined one for summer. My own preference is strongly in favour of goat hide, as I prefer the grain.

    I just noted that the very warmest leather jacket I own is a capeskin French military number from the 30s. It's all down to the spectacularly dense wool liner.

    What I've never understood is the idea that one hide is better for winter than another. The hide does nothing, in my experience - all down to the liner.

  20. B-24J

    B-24J One of the Regulars

    W & G A-2 HH and Goat Comparison

    As Willis & Geiger were closing, I purchased these A-2 jackets.

    Horse hide in Dark Seal and Goat in Light Seal.

    I have worn the HH extensively and the goat not at all. But Any difference in the grain is visible.

    The HH was about 15 percent more expensive.

    The goat is marginally lighter in weight than the HH.




    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012

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