By Graham Newell
Billets are an integral part of your saddle but the care of which is often overlooked, which can result in a potentially devastating consequence. The importance of care, condition and upkeep of billets cannot be over stressed.
The four leather billet straps are all that hold you and the saddle onto the horse. Given this, it is very important to make sure the condition of your billets are up to the task. Any billet failure can lead to you becoming disconnected from your horse and, of course, the result could easily end in injury.
- The billet leather should be free from any cracking that extends further than the surface.
- The billet leather holes should be even, not stretched or elongated.
- The billet leather should be even in thickness and not thinned or elongated.
- The billet stitching should be sound, ensuring a firm grip to the webbing.
Any deviation from the above should be pointed out to your saddle fitter immediately. Any doubt as to the condition and you should replace the billets.
As invariable goes one, so do the rest: We always recommend replacing all four billets as a matter of course.
You must never use any kind of conditioner on billet straps. Conditioner oils the leather and allows it to stretch under tension and also allows the leather to elongate along the billet holes. Both of which will lead to premature failure and may result in injury to horse and rider.
Billets are to be wiped down after every ride and inspected for wear as indicated above.
Billets are to be cleaned with water and/or saddle soap. Nothing else!
Any indications of damage or unusual wear should be pointed out to your saddle fitter at your earliest convenience for replacement.