Because western saddle pads provide an important protective barrier between your horse’s back and the saddle, they must be cleaned on a regular basis. A sweat- and hair-encrusted pad can lead to rubs, which could eventually turn into saddle sores. Keeping your western saddle pad clean will also prolong its life. In addition, horses occasionally develop contagious skin conditions (such as rain rot) that will require riders to thoroughly clean their tack — including their saddle pads. Unfortunately, many riders are unsure of how to clean a western saddle pad properly. The good news is, we’ve covered the steps below! Clean the pad every few rides, or at least give it a good look to determine whether a cleaning is needed.
How to Clean a Wool Saddle Pad
Never toss a wool western saddle pad into the washer or dryer. This is especially true if you have invested in a high-quality pad or one that was designed for a specific riding discipline, such as barrel racing or roping. Both machines can cause damage to your pad and shorten its useful life.
Instead, you should:
1. Loosen dirt, sweat and hair. Start by scrubbing your wool pad with a rubber curry comb in a circular motion — just like you would curry your horse. You might also want to try swatting the pad with a stiff riding crop or an old tennis racket to loosen any caked-on dirt or sweat. As for the top of the pad, use a soft brush to whisk away hair and dirt. Be careful not to curry or brush your pad too vigorously, as that could fray the material.
2. Rid your pad of the dirt. Next, use a vacuum with a hose attachment to rid your pad of the now-loosened dirt and hair.
3. Wash your pad. Using a sprayer attachment on a garden hose, spray the water in an outward direction toward the edges of the pad. This will force the dirt and hair off the pad. Never aim the hose directly down onto the pad, as this will drive the dirt into the wool. Never hang your pad with a clip or clamp during this procedure. Your pad will get very heavy with water and this could distort its shape or even cause it to rip.
4. Dry your pad. Allow your pad to air-dry. Again, it’s important not to hang it with a clip. Instead, place it over a saddle rack or a fence rail so that your pad can maintain its shape.
Keep the Leather Looking Good
Now that you have a better idea of how to clean a saddle pad, here are a few tips to care for leather trim.
1. Wipe the trim with a damp cloth.
2. Apply a good leather conditioner. This goes for when you hose the leather off while cleaning the pad, too.
3. Avoid exposing the leather to excess heat, such as in a dryer.
Get Years of Use From Your Saddle Pad
When taken care of properly, a well-made saddle pad should provide comfort and protection for your horse’s back for a number of years. However, it’s important to watch for signs of wear. For instance, if your pad doesn’t return to its original shape after washing, then it may be time to invest in a new one. Best Ever Pads offers an excellent selection of high-quality western saddle pads. For more information, please contact us today.