Saddle care tips are written by N2 Saddlery co-founder, Sue Newell. As a competitive FEI Level dressage rider, Sue is personally aware of the importance of a proper fitting saddle for both the horse and the rider. Sue is available for saddle fittings located in Southern California and Arizona. Sue is a qualified saddle fitter through the Society of Master Saddlers UK.
Caring for your saddle includes making sure you properly store your saddle. The way you store your saddle is extremely important for many reasons. We will touch on the main ones here.
First, take a look at the saddle rack. The best saddle rack you can have is just a pole for the saddle to hang on or one that is completely smooth and conforms to the shape of the panel. The reason for this is that the only place the pole touches the saddle is in the gullet area which is technically the bottom side of the middle of the tree. It does not touch the panel anywhere at all.
Most saddle racks tent to be the bar frame type. These do not lend themselves to supporting the weight of the saddle evenly through the panel. Pressure points from certain saddle racks can leave indentations in the panel leather and wool flocking. Over time (and it only takes a few days), the weight of the saddle on this type of rack deforms the panel leather into this shape. In addition, it can make indentations in the wool flocking inside the panel and is hard to correct without doing a complete reflocking of the wool.
If you’re not able to change your saddle rack to the pole type as we suggest, then place a very thick pad such as a western pad, half or full fleece pad to eliminate any pressure points on the rack that could leave indentations in the panel. Other suggestions are the heavy pipe foam from a hardware store or just a big piece of foam that is duck taped on. The saddle mattress is also a good product if you want something fancier and have the bar type saddle rack they are built to go over.
Second and just as important is NEVER ever store or place your sweaty girth or saddle pad directly on your saddle. By placing a sweaty girth or saddle pad on your saddle, you deteriorate the leather in your saddle, and you are introducing moisture and salt into the leather, and it will wear out faster. We have seen this done so many times and we want to cringe when we see this. If you must store your girth on top of the saddle, first make sure the girth has been cleaned (should be cleaned after each ride) and is dry. Secondly, put the saddle cover on the saddle and only then place the girth and/or saddle pad there when it is clean and dry. It’s for these and many other reasons we only recommend the use of Effax Lederbalsam to condition your saddle. No cleaners or saddle soap of any kind! This will be covered in another article.
If you have any questions about saddle storage, please ask your local Certified N2 Saddle fitter. They can guide you with the proper storage of your new saddle to lengthen the life of your saddle and prevent the expense of a new flocking to correct this.