The saddle pad is the important piece of tack and comes in contact with the horses skin the most. They must be kept clean and soft to prevent rubs or saddle sores. Keeping your saddle pad clean will protect your investment and prolong the life of the pad. Never use a high powered pressure washer to clean your pads. This will push the dirt deeper into the wool fibers and prevent proper wicking of sweat.

To properly clean your western saddle pad, follow these steps:

Remove hair and dirt: Scrub the underside of the pad with a curry comb to loosen the sweat, dirt and hair. Be sure not to destroy the fiber material and curry only enough to loosen the caked-up dirt and hair.

Vacuum: Use a hose attachment with a vacuum and remove as much of the loose dirt and hair as possible. This will make it easier to rinse and prevent it from going deeper into the pad we you begin washing.

Wash and Soak Pad: Begin from the center of your pad and and spray at an angle with luke-warm water if possible. Never spray directly into the pad. Then apply Woolite or a soap that is specifically formulated for horses or natural fibers. Let the pad soak for 15-20 minutes.

Rinse, Rinse, Rinse: You want to rinse your pad starting from the center working to the outer edges. Continue to rinse until the water runs clear and clean. If you leave any soap, your horse could develop irritation. Try to continuously push the dirty soapy water to the edges of the pad rather than soaking in the middle.

Dry: Never hang your pad by a corner or on a clip. This will cause distortion of the fibers. Only set it on a saddle rack or fence rail with the right side up to air dry so the pad can maintain it’s shape.

Leather Care: Once the pad is dry, you can then apply quality leather conditioner to the leather wear strips on the pad.

Ashley Best, Newton County Extension Coordinator