It’s time to learn how to clean saddle pads!
Saddle pads come in different materials, including wool, memory foam, gel core, etc., and you should clean each material differently.
This post discusses how to clean both a Western and an English saddle pad, as well as some maintenance tips.
Let’s get started!
READ MORE: Best Half Pads for Horses
How to Clean Western and Wool Saddle Pads
Cleaning saddle pads is important to the health of your horse. While they make the saddle more comfortable, they can accumulate dirt, hair, and sweat.
If not cleaned on a regular basis, this build-up creates irregular surfaces that scratch the horse, causing saddle sores.
The build-up also becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which worsens the sores.
Besides the health benefits, who wouldn’t love the look of a clean saddle pad?
With that in mind, what is the best saddle pad cleaning method? Let’s look at each type in detail, starting with the western types.
Below is a step-by-step process on how to clean a wool saddle pad.
# Step 1 – Dust the Loose Dirt
You should start by brushing the pads using a rubber curry comb, a stiff brush, or even a hack saw blade in a combing motion. Make sure they are still dry when doing this.
This step helps loosen the matted dirt, grime, dried sweat, excess hair, and other debris. To loosen the dirt further, utilize impact by hitting the pads against a wall or fence.
You can do this regularly, saving you time and energy when you decide to do a thorough cleaning. So, make sure you do it more frequently.
# Step 2 – Vacuum
After loosening the debris, you need to vacuum it. This makes cleaning easier since most of the dirt won’t end up in the cleaning water or along the edges as you rinse (more on this later).
It would be best if you had a vacuum cleaner with a suction hose.
# Step 3 – Washing
There are two ways to clean western saddles, manual and machine washing, depending on the materials they are made from. If they’re made of wool, felt, gel core, or memory foam, don’t wash them using a washing machine.
But if you’re using Mexican-style blanket horse pads, then a washing machine would make your job easier.
Also, always check the manufacturer’s instructions since they always mention if you should or shouldn’t use a washing machine.
Using A Washing Machine
As already mentioned, you can wash Mexican-style blanket pads and any other lightweight horse blankets in a washing machine. But the materials they are made from determines the water temperature to use.
For synthetic fiber, warm water will do. But if they are made of wool and other natural fibers, always use cold water. Again, the manufacturer may offer special instructions.
Remember to clean it after using a washing machine since some of the hair, and grim will end up in the washer. You wouldn’t want your clothes getting this debris.
Most wool pads are thick and are not easy to bend. That’s why it’s not advisable to throw them in a washing machine.
Once you’ve loosened and gotten rid of most of the dirt in the first step, fill a tub or large bucket with water and add a mild detergent.
Then, leave it to soak for at least 3 hours, and then scrub with a brush in a circular motion. Don’t forget to wash both sides.
After that, rinse the soap, preferably using a high-pressure sprayer, but a garden hose will also work. You can also go to a car wash and use their pressure washer.
While some people prefer hanging them with clips, this may damage the saddle pad’s shape since most of the water’s weight will end up at the bottom. It’s best to wash them on a flat surface.
Not all detergents are appropriate, some may even cause itchiness on the horse’s skin, and others may damage the wool fibers. You can use regular saddle soap, unscented detergent, or use plain water to be safe.
Avoid hosing down at the pad since this may drive the dirt into the pad. Instead, spray towards the edges to get rid of any stuck dirt.
Also, too much pressure may damage the felt. So, spray the water from a distance.
# Step 4 – Drying
It’s best to dry the wool pads on a fence or rail in the sun, especially when there’s moderate wind.
Again, avoid hanging it using clips. And don’t machine dry them or use any artificial drying methods since you will damage them.
After finding the right place to dry them, give the pads at least 2 to 3 days to dry fully.
If you store them when they aren’t completely dry, they will develop a foul odor.
#Step 5 – Maintain the Leather
Most western pads have leather along the edges and on several other parts. Once the saddle pads have completely dried, you need to condition these leather parts by applying a leather conditioner or olive oil.
After conditioning, let it dry naturally in the sun and avoid using any artificial dryers.
How to Wash English Saddle Pads
English style pads are easier to wash in a washing machine since they bend easily. Below is a step-by-step on how to do it.
#Step 1 – Brush the Loose Dirt
Like cleaning horse blankets, and cleaning western horse saddle pads, start by getting rid of loose debris such as hair and dried sweat using a brush. You can also use a vacuum to suck the debris off the saddle blanket.
#Step 2 – Mix Various Cleaning Agents
While English pads are made from regular textiles, you need to be careful with the detergents you use, especially if your horse’s skin is sensitive.
Look for unscented detergents, mix them with baking soda, and add white vinegar if the pads have a terrible odor.
# Step 3 – Apply the Mixture
Treat the pads with the mixture you just created using a soft-bristled brush and let it soak for at least an hour before washing the pads.
# Step 4 – Use the Washer
Run your machine with water at full capacity, and use warm or hot water for effective cleaning. I know some washers try to conserve water, but you need a lot of water to clean horse pads.
Make sure you use mild detergent and or bleach to get rid of tough stains. After that, run a second rinse cycle to get rid of detergent residue.
# Step 5 – Drying
Like all other horse laundries, dry the English saddle pads on a breezy, sunny day.
Let’s have a look at the video below for an actual demonstration:
How to Store Saddle Pads
After washing saddle pads and making sure they are dry, it’s time to store them. For starters, never place saddle pads upside down since they should always mimic the back of a horse.
Instead, keep them in the right shape in a storage saddle rack, a tack room, a bin, or a vacuum seal bag. Make sure the room isn’t too humid, and silica gels can also help keep the saddle pad storage room dry.
How Often Should You Wash Saddle Pads
This depends on how often you use them. If you use saddle pads regularly, wash them after a couple of rides. Below are some maintenance tips to keep them clean before conducting a thorough cleaning.
- Place baby pads under the saddle so that they absorb most of the sweat and excess hair. When using English high withered horse saddle pad, baby pads can provide more protection and more comfort.
- Groom your horse before placing the saddle pad.
- Don’t place the saddle on the fence or any other section before ensuring that area is clean.
If you notice any charred sections or the saddle pad doesn’t revert to its normal shape after cleaning, it may be time to replace it.
Check out this video on how to use a gel pad under a saddle.
How to get horse hair out of saddle pads?
Start by scrubbing using a brush, curry comb, or hacksaw blade and vacuum the loosened dirt. After that, blast with high-pressure water to get rid of excess debris.
Can you put a saddle pad in a washing machine?
Yes, but not all types. Western saddle pads, especially wool felt, gel core, or memory foam, can’t go in a washing machine. Mexican-style saddle pads and English saddle pads can go in a washing machine. Whether to use hot or cold water depends on the material type.
How do you get stains out of saddle pads?
Always start by scrubbing loose dirt. Then, soak the saddle pads in a mixture of the appropriate detergents, and rinse with high-pressure water sprayers. For tough stains, you can add baking soda and bleach.
And there you have it. If you want your saddle pads to serve you for a long time, I’ve detailed everything you need to know about keeping various types of horse pads clean.
Remember to follow the manufacturer’s care guidelines.
- Equisearch. 2005. “Saddle Pad Care: No Sweat.” Expert Advice on Horse Care and Horse Riding. Expert advice on horse care and horse riding. October 2005. https://www.equisearch.com/articles/saddle-pad-care-no-sweat.
- Griffin, Justine. 2020a. “How to Get the Horse Hair out of Your Saddle Pads – Heels down Mag.” Heels down Mag. February 21, 2020. https://heelsdownmag.com/how-to-get-the-horse-hair-out-of-your-saddle-pads/.
- ———. 2020b. “How to Get the Horse Hair out of Your Saddle Pads – Heels down Mag.” Heels down Mag. February 21, 2020. https://heelsdownmag.com/how-to-get-the-horse-hair-out-of-your-saddle-pads/.
- KLM Equine. 2013. “How to Wash Western Saddle Pads & Cinches.” YouTube Video. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ48xI_8nfs.
- Norris, Tatum. 2021. “How to Wash Horse Saddle Pads – Cleaning English & Western Pads.” CurlyFarm.com. May 2, 2021. https://curlyfarm.com/clean-saddle-pads/.
Do you have more tips on how to clean saddle pads? Please share with us below!
Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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