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How to Look After Your Horse’s Saddle Pads

How to Look After Your Horse's Saddle Pads dressage white

Although you don’t get any extra marks in dressage for the turnout of you and your horse, an immaculately presented combination does give the judge an impression of professionalism.

Tired-looking saddle pads can ruin an otherwise pristine turnout.

But how should you look after your saddle pads to make sure they stay looking like new?

Let’s find out!

Buy quality

In general, the price of the saddle pad will dictate its quality.

Cheaper saddle pads usually wear more quickly than expensive ones and soon become tatty after multiple uses.

So, the old maxim that you get what you pay for certainly applies to saddle pads.

Washing dark-colored saddle pads

Some riders prefer to use dark saddle pads. That’s a good idea, as dark colors don’t show dirt as readily as white or cream.

When you wash dark-colored saddle pads, use cold water and vigorous agitation.

If possible, don’t use any form of a cleaning agent such as washing powder. This will prolong the life of the pad.

Washing white and light-colored saddle pads

When washing light-colored and white saddle pads, use lukewarm or cold water.

Soaking the pads won’t necessarily get the dirt out, although removing debris and hair will be helpful.

Avoid using regular detergent, as it contains a bleaching agent that will weaken the fibers and stitching that holds the fabric together. Eco-friendly cleaners won’t be effective, as they are too weak and won’t do much to get rid of dirt and grime. Instead, hand-scrubbing can be a very effective way of shifting stains.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to keep the underside of a white saddle pad immaculate. However, it’s the top side of the pad that’s on display, and it’s that area that you want to keep bright and white.

Be very careful not to overdo boot polish, as that can’t be removed once it stains.

What soap is best for cleaning saddle pads?

So, we’ve said that using detergent to wash your saddle pads is not a good idea as it could damage them. Instead, try using shampoo.

Shampoo is strong enough to remove grease and dirt from your hair, but it’s gentle too. So, shampoo is perfect for washing saddle pads and other delicate items such as lingerie.

Also, shampoo won’t cause dark fabrics to fade like detergent can.

If you have white saddle pads, you might like to try this old secret cleaning method:

  • Make up a weak solution of borax and water.
  • Soak the saddle pad in the solution for an hour or two.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • Dry the saddle pads in the sun.

You should be left with pristine, white saddle pads without a stain in sight!

Beware of hair!

Unfortunately, no matter how diligently you groom your horse, you can bet that some loose hair will become stuck to your saddle pads.

Remove the hair by hand before you put your saddle pads into the washing machine.

Hair is made from a similar substance to your fingernails, and it doesn’t break down quickly. Consequently, lots of hair in your septic system and your washer pump will cause blockages and could eventually damage your whole system.

Drying saddle pads

It’s not recommended that you dry your saddle pads in a dryer. That can cause damage to the fabric.

The best way to dry your saddle pads is by hanging them up and allowing them to air-dry.

If you do decide to put your saddle pads in a dryer, be sure to keep the heat down to 1000F.

In conclusion

If you want to keep your saddle pads looking great, buy the best quality you can afford. Remove hair and debris from the pads before washing them, and use shampoo rather than harsh washing detergent that could damage the fabric over time.

Do you have any top tips for keeping your saddle pads immaculate? If you do, share your secrets with us in the comments section below!

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