We appreciate that your saddle is an investment. Looking after it correctly will determine how long it lasts. In this blog, we take a look at the do's and don'ts of caring for your saddle and how you can keep it in tiptop condition.
Age, Size & Lifestyle Matter
If you had a saddle aged 6, then the likelihood is that the saddle won't fit you now are you 20+ years of age! The same applies to any shifts in weight or change of shape. A career change from active to deskbound can also change you physically. Having a baby or an injury can change how you ride and the best sort of saddle for you. All these things can impact on how long your saddle will last.
Care of your Saddle
How long your saddle will last depends mainly on how you look after it. Whenever you have ridden in it, you should clean and condition it. If you ride in a downpour, you certainly need to give it an extra condition once it is thoroughly dry. Storing your saddle somewhere safe and not leaving it on your horse's stable door will save it from being knocked off or having the cantle chewed. We've seen billets gnawed by rats and puppies too! Watch out for the yard's cat, who could mistake your saddle as an impromptu scratch post. The best way to store your saddle is away from any direct heat source, on a saddle rack away from ground level and with a dust cover over it.
Watch Out For Hidden Issues
We have seen dressage saddles where the salt from the horse’s sweat has gone into the leather which over time can cause the leather to crack and/or go white. Both these aspects are difficult to tackle and usually mean the leather needs replacing, so prevention is better than cure. Remember your saddlecloth is there to keep your saddle clean, but it will not prevent sweat from getting through into the leather. If you’ve had a hard session – act accordingly.
Another hidden problem is lunging the horse with the reins hooked under the stirrup leathers. This can rub the knee rolls. A makeover for your saddle can be expensive and, if not done, the value drops dramatically.
How you ride can also affect the wear and tear on a saddle. If you ride asymmetrically, you may wear one side of the saddle flap more than other as well as altering the shape of flocked panels.
Up To Scratch
Look out for clothing details which can scratch and damage your saddle. Buckles and zips on chaps can mark the flaps. Riding in non-equestrian jackets can mean that they don't sit correctly. Jacket zip details can, therefore, rub on the pommel. The leather on the saddle is the softest part and therefore most likely to sustain scratches. All this is exacerbated when the saddle is wet as the leather softens!! Crystal-embellished pockets on the back of breeches can scratch if they come into contact with the leather seat. Some of the heavyweight silicone seats can also leave imprints on the leather that you cannot remove. Manufacturers guarantee the leather for faults but not against any of the above. Beware.
Look After Your Saddle
If you want your saddle to last, look after it. Get your saddle checked and clean and condition it regularly. There may come a time when you need to sell your saddle (perhaps when you sell your horse and buy another), but if you have cared for your saddle well, it should not have lost a lot of its value. Remember, none of the above cause the saddle to be unsellable, but it does make it less of an investment!!