How do I clean my western saddle pad? You know, one of the really thick ones with leather trim and a great western pattern on the top?
These western pads do their job well - especially if you have one with contoured withers or cut out withers. These are the only styles I recommend, otherwise the downward pressure can pinch the withers and create a pretty uncomfortable horse. (More about the logic behind this here...)
The downside to these beautiful western pads is that it seems like a major challenge to wash and maintain them. Luckily, I have some guidelines to help you minimize the hassle.
- No washing machines! No dryers! No soap! This is true for most western saddle pads.
- Brush and air dry after every single use - putting a western saddle pad away damp and coated in hair will damage your pad over time. (And may lead to some *funky* smells and skin conditions.)
- Minimize the need to wash your big western saddle pad by using an English “baby pad” underneath and against your horse. Machine washable, and will absorb a ton of sweat. Don’t worry, your horse won’t start prancing.
For washing, most manufacturers suggest the following steps:
- Brush your saddle pads.
- Turn on a hose, preferably one with a pressurized nozzle so you can use the spray like a squeegee, and wash your pad. No soap necessary.
- Alternatively, your western saddle pad manufacturer may suggest you soak in a bucket of cold water.
- Air dry, usually with the bottom up. Don’t fold or hang your western saddle pad in a manner that is not natural for it. Flat or over a fence rail usually works the best.
- Keep out of sunlight as you dry. Sunlight is the kiss of death for fabric strength and color retention.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions!
This saddle pad is being stored on a wide wire rack - great for letting sweat dry and keeping the shape.
For storage, you have some options, and yes, the manufacturers will have something to say about this, too. Flat or folded is best, but not with anything on top of it. But that can take up a lot of space - so you may need to get creative. The tops of saddles are very tempting to store your pad - be warned that this will, over time, affect the integrity of the saddle pad as the dip in the seat will change the shape of the pad.
Best bets? Use blanket hangers. Either singular, as you would find on a stall door, or stacked with one of those handy (and mobile) multiple blanket bars.
You can also go with a fancy Euro model, these are mounted on the wall and have multiple arms that swing out for blankets and/or pads (like the model pictured below). These are super space savers, and can be used for many different things.
These blanket racks can easily become western saddle pad racks.
How do you care for and store your western pads??