Billet Mistake Number 1
It is easy to take your saddle’s billet straps for granted but checking the integrity of your billets every time you tack up is a valuable habit to develop. Not checking the billet straps is a common oversight many rider’s would plead guilty to and the oversight can lead to disastrous results.
Billet Mistake Number 2
Many rider’s do check their billets regularly but fall into the second billet care trap by caring for their billet straps the same way the take care of the rest of their saddle by cleaning and conditioning the straps regularly.
Key points to remember when it comes to billets:
1. Do not condition your billet straps.
Do you remember in the past how your saddles billets would get longer, thinner and the holes would stretch until finally they would start to tear?? Or maybe you still have a saddle with billets like this…THIS COMES FROM OVER CONDITIONING. The billets are made to take tension and should not be conditioned.
People say to me when they get a new saddle, “but they are so stiff and I like them to be soft because it makes it easier to girth my horse”. I explain, I understand, but the natural oils of the horse and sweat will soften them on their own. You may even see a bit of surface (very small cosmetic) cracking on your billet straps but this is normal. If you are really, really adamant, then put ONE coat of Effax on them when they are new and never do it again. You can and should of course, clean them with a slightly damp cloth after you ride. I don’t even recommend saddle soap because many of the products have conditioner.
2. Have your fitter check them EVERY time they come. We normally look at them but do an exam yourself regularly as well.
- Are they getting thinner?
- Are the holes stretching where you are putting them on the girth buckles?
- Do you see cracks?
- HAVE YOU CHECKED the integrity of the stitching?
The stitching is done so that if the knot were to come undone, the stitching will continue to hold for a while, but it still means you need to check because eventually the stitching will unravel with no tension .