The first of which is a review for a leash from the super-nice folks at Hill Top Leather Shop. I like to give leather goods a long time to get broken in before I review, because leather is an organic material and needs time to age - like a fine wine!
Hill Top leather collars and leashes are all made by hand by this family-owned business. Even their engraving is done in-house. They've been in business for 23 years, and live with a menagerie of animals - dogs, cats, horses, and ponies!
Hill Top leather definitely looks and feels "equine." Their leather is sturdy and highly buffed to a shiny gleam. I suppose it makes sense that in addition to pet gear, they also make tack for horses as well! They sent me a 5.5ft long, 5/8" leather leash with a padded leather handle. This type of leash retails for $31.00, which I feel is a great price for a custom handmade leather leash, made from leather of this quality.
Like most leather of this type, it was very stiff for a few weeks. It didn't burn my hands, but it was stiff. After about a month of constant use it did soften up. I haven't been able to get it as soft as some of my other leads, simply because my leash was made out of a very thick, strong piece of leather.
The hardware, while heavy, is extremely high quality. I did let Jayne pull like crazy on it, and I never got the feeling like the hardware was going to fail. (And yes, Jayne has broken hardware before!)
The leather in the handle was very soft, and of course I love the color! (If you don't know I have a thing for purple by now, you may need to read more of my blog entries!) Hill Top Leather offers twenty different leather colors for lining, which is nice for leashes but even better for collars! In addition to the lining colors, you have ten different "base" leather colors to choose from. You can go with a classic combination - black and brown - or you can spice things up a bit with a bolder combination... teal base leather with lime green padding comes to mind! My one complaint with the handle probably has more to do with my fat wrists than the handle itself. I had trouble getting my wrist through the handle, and the handle itself was too bulky to slide over a finger comfortably, like what I do with thinner-handled leashes. Don't judge me - it's just what we do in the obedience ring!
I'd originally thought this leash might be a good option for the obedience ring. Due to the weight and sheer substance of the leash though, I think I'd categorize it as an excellent "pet leash" for a large-size dog instead. For the money, I'd recommend Hill Top leashes to anyone looking for a quality leather leash with a bit more pizzazz than a simple one-color leash.
Closing comment: I really, really want to give one of their collars a shot. I like that they engrave their own nameplates, and I love that they offer zany colors in endless combinations.