A Clean Saddle Pad is Healthier For Your Horse

Most people probably don’t ever think about how dirty their horse’s saddle pad might be. Not only can it bother your horse, but it can also shorten the life of the pad itself. A clean pad protects the underside of your saddle and checking it regularly, you can spot signs of saddle-fit problems such as spotty sweat absorption and patchy hair accumulation.

After a few hot, sweaty rides, your horse’s saddle pad can get really nasty. The sweat and hair become stuck on it and can be an irritant to their skin and can even become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. This can encourage sore skin and muscles, fungus and bald patches. Always check your saddle pad after a ride and clean it as necessary.

Before you clean your pad, you need to know what kind of material it is made of. Then you should concentrate on removing the dried sweat and grime first, then the glued on hair will come off a lot easier. You can use a soft bristle brush and the sticky side of duct tape to remove the hair off of any kind of pad,but especially natural fleece and wools. This only works when done often and when the pad isn’t too dirty.

You can use your home steam cleaner if your pad is cotton, nylon, synthetic fleece or wool. (Use infrequently on real wool.) Always test an inconspicuous area first, to be sure. Use a mild solution, like Woolite and run a second cycle with plain water to rinse it real good, so the soap won’t come in contact with your horse.

Another option would be to use your shop vac. It will help to run a small stream of water on the horse pad before you start vacuuming to get the caked on hair loosened up first. This is a good choice on all materials except for the Neoprene pads which are too smooth to vacuum.

If you have a pressure washer, you can clean nylons and neoprene. You can also take your pad to the carwash in town and hang it up with the floormat hangers. Spray at 45 degree angles to do the best job. Just be ready to take a heavy, soaking wet blanket back to the house. You could throw it in the back of the truck or you could take a washtub with you. When you get home, hang it on the fence to dry. Keep in mind that this may take a day or two.

Something else to try would be your water hose on the slick surfaced pads. You can also hose down nylon, synthetic fleece, synthetic wool, felt and horsehair. You can use a foaming hose attachment with a mild detergent or disinfectant to really do the job. After it is washed, try to wring out some of the water, then hang to dry. Don’t use water on open-cell foam, though. That will ruin it.

Another way to clean your saddle pad is to put it in your bathtub. This would be for the materials that need to be soaked to get clean, like hand dyed real fleeces and wools. These can’t have any leather or trim on them, though. Let it soak 10 minutes, then swish it around in the water. Rinse and hang to dry for a day or two. Then you will need to vacuum it to get the rest of the hair off of it. You could also use a big washtub for this method.

How about using your washing machine? You can clean synthetic fleeces and wools in it. Use the gentle cycle, cold water and a mild detergent. Hang to dry. This method is not for stiff structured pads. Oh yeah! You might want to run an empty cycle to get all of the hair out of the machine before someone washes a load of clothes in it.

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