A saddle pad is an essential investment for horse owners. However, keeping the saddle pad clean is just as important. Proper cleaning and maintenance of a saddle help retain its functionality and beauty. When a saddle pad is in good condition, it helps to spread pressure while riding and protect your horse’s back from sores.
Yes saddle pads can be washed. All manufacturers of saddle pads should include cleaning instructions either on the tag or on their website. Not all saddle pads can be machine washed; however, some can.
Keeping the Saddle Pad Clean
Like many things in our lives, preventative maintenance will go a long way into keeping our saddle pads looking great for years. After every few horse rides, you may give the saddle a few whacks to remove dust and loose hair. By whacking the saddle pad on both sides, you prevent the dust and the hair from caking up on the saddle that can eventually lead to saddle sores!
You can keep the underside of the pad clean by brushing it gently using a bristle brush. A rubber currycomb may also come in handy to help remove stuck hair and muck but be gentle to avoid ruining the saddle pad.
You may also use a special sponge to grab and remove hair from the saddle pad. To make the hair come off quickly, you can try moving the brush or the sponge in circles. However, you should be careful to avoid fraying the saddle materials. Additionally, you can suck up hair and loose dirt from the saddle using a shop vacuum.
Machine Washing Saddle Pads
If your saddle pad is washable, you may wash it using a machine or by hand. It is particularly important to wash your saddle if it contains caked-on dirt that refuses to come off even if you vacuum or brush the saddle pad.
You should only machine-wash a saddle pad if the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions state that it is safe to do so. You should take some time to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. However, you should be aware that machine-washing a saddle pad is likely to leave a mess in your washing machine. You may notice loose hairs in the machine after washing the saddle pads.
Before putting saddle pads into the washing machine, try to first remove as much dirt as possible. Try hanging the pad from a fence or handrail and spraying it down with a garden hose. If that doesn’t seem to get stubborn clumps of dirt off it’s time to break out the rubber curry comb again.
If you are unable to check with the manufacturer the safest option is to just hand wash the saddle pad. However, sometimes we just don’t have time, in this case, you should ensure that you use coldest settings on your washing machine as well as the gentle cycle.
Whenever you are washing saddle pads, it is advisable to avoid using components like soap and fabric softener. Even after rinsing, these components may not come off the saddle pads and could be irritating the delicate skin of your horse.
You may machine dry the saddles pad as long as the manufacturer’s instructions state it is safe to do so. However, ensure that you remove the pad from the dryer immediately after completing the cycle. It is also advisable to ensure that you use the lowest settings while drying the saddle.
Hand Washing Saddle Pads
If it is against the manufacturer’s recommendations to machine-wash a saddle pad, you can always wash the pad by hand. After brushing and vacuuming the pad, soak it in a tub of cold water. To rinse the saddle, hang it from a fence or the edge of your tub and spray it with water from a garden hose. You can use a brush to scrub the stubborn dirt from the saddle pad. Work your way from the center out towards the edges of the saddle pad. Brushing the dirt from the edge towards the center will only drive the dirt deeper into the saddle pad.
Some saddle pads can be washed by using a pressure washer. This method may seem like it would be harder on the pad than any washing machine; however, this isn’t exactly the case. If you are going to try this out it’s important to start in a location that you won’t see on a regular basis. My suggestion is to pick a spot that would be underneath the saddle, but NOT on the bottom side! On the off chance that you cause damage to the saddle pad, we want that damage to be padded by the saddle and not rub against the horse or ourselves. After deciding for yourself that you are not going to cause damage, I recommend starting at one corner and working your diagonally across the pad. This allows you to push the dirt and hair off of the pad but not across the entire length of the pad.
How do I clean the leather accents found on some saddle pads?
If your saddle pad has some leather accents or padded areas, it is important to care for those separately. Leather behaves much like your own skin, it has pores and it can be moisturized as well as dry out. The topic of cleaning leather is a bit further down the rabbit hole than we need to go for this article; however, my article on saddle soap dives into this topic with detail.
In summary, saddle pads can be washed; but, you have to be careful to ensure that you do not ruin them. Not all saddle pads are machine washable. It is essential to read the manufacturer’s instructions to understand how to clean your saddle pads.