Removing a horse’s hair from saddle pads, coolers, and blankets can be cumbersome, requiring a lot of elbow grease and hours of hard work.
Not only can it irk you, but excessive loose hair on a saddle pad can irritate your horse’s skin. A dirty pad can also lead to chaffing, which can cause your horse discomfort and even lead to skin infections.
Use this guide to learn more about cleaning saddle pads and why you should do it, plus a few nifty tricks on how to best clean your horse’s saddle pad.
Removing Horse Hair From A Saddle Pad
Horse lovers and carers should clean their horses’ saddle pads regularly by brushing off dirt, grime, and loose hair. This ensures that you always use a clean saddle pad when tacking up your horse before taking it for a ride.
Always check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to ensure you don’t damage the pad, and remove all the foam inserts and shims before you start the cleaning process.
Next – use these handy tips to remove and clean your horse’s pad:
1. Use a stiff brush or rubber curry comb
Use a durable, stiff brush or rubber comb to brush off hair, dirt and grime. Brushing in a circular motion will remove as much hair and caked-on dirt as possible.
2. Use a vacuum cleaner
A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment can make the hair-removal process a lot easier. The suction power will also enable you to get into all the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of the pad. The vacuum cleaner will also be able to suck up and remove horse hair that you couldn’t with the brush.
3. Use a special pet hair brush
Many pet supply stores sell brushes that are designed to remove stubborn pet hair from fabric.
4. Wash the pad in a sink
Once all the dirt and grime is removed, wash the pad in a sink with warm water. It’s suggested that you use water that’s below 30 degrees Celsius, as hot water may shrink your pad (that’s why it’s important to check your manufacturer’s cleaning instructions first!).
Based on the cleaning instructions, add cleaning products – such as soap, baking soda, or any other recommended cleaning products – to remove all the hair, sweat, and dirt that remain after using a brush. It’s also best to steer clear of products that contain dyes or perfume which might irritate your horse’s skin or damage the pad’s material
If your horse has a wool pad, use cold water to clean it.
Soak the pad in the water for a few minutes, then gently rinse and hang it to air dry.
5. Wash the saddle pad in a washing machine
If all else fails – depending on the fabric and manufacturer’s cleaning instructions – pop the saddle pad into your washing machine. With a gentle wash cycle, the machine will help you remove horse hair, dirt and sweat. After the machine wash, rinse, and hang out the pad to dry.
If the pad is made of other materials, such as memory foam, gel or wool felt, it will get damaged in a washing machine and should therefore only be hand washed.
6. Use a garden hose
This can be a quick and easy method to remove horse hair and grime. Remember to use a gentle water stream to not damage the pad.
Handy tip: Never dry your saddle pad in direct sunlight. Also, never use a dryer to dry it, and do not hang it over a railing when drying.
Why You Should Remove Hair From Your Horse’s Saddle Pad
Regularly removing hair from your horse’s saddle pad is beneficial for both the saddle and your horse.
- A well-maintained and cared-for saddle and saddle pad will last longer, remain in good shape, and perform much better than a dirty and neglected pad.
- A clean saddle pad can prevent the spread of bacteria and dirt.
- A clean pad ensures your horse’s comfort when riding.
- A well-cared-for and clean pad also minimises the risk of slipping while riding.
A very dirty and hairy saddle pad can cause chaffing and irritate the horse’s skin. The chaffing can lead to saddle sores and discomfort.
How Often To Clean Your Horse’s Saddle Pad
Many horse enthusiasts and horse lovers would agree that there is no hard-and-fast rule about how often you should clean your horse’s saddle pad.
How soiled the saddle pad is depends on:
- The amount of hair your horse sheds.
- How often the pad is used.
- How sweaty the animal gets during a riding session.
It is advised that you brush dirt and hair from your saddle pad after every ride.
After riding, allow the pad to air dry, which will make the hair removal process easier. A properly-dried horse pad will also reduce the risk (or severity) of chaffing when fitted on the horse’s back.
This will ensure that the saddle pad doesn’t become too soiled, which makes cleaning – when you eventually decide to do it – a lot more difficult and labour-intensive.
It’s suggested that you clean the saddle pad more often during warmer months when your horse sweats more. Horses sweat a lot less during the winter months, which means you won’t have to wash the pad as often, but it’s still advised to remove any excess hair regularly.
However, if you compete in competitions or events where the animal sweats a lot, you should do a full pad brushing and cleaning more often.
Why do we use a saddle pad?
Saddle pads serve a few important purposes:
- They provide an extra layer of cushioning between the horse’s back and the saddle to prevent and/or reduce friction or chaffing.
- They prevent the saddle from slipping and can also prevent the animal’s sweat from damaging it.
- They help to distribute the pressure of the rider’s weight evenly across the horse’s back and absorb shocks during riding.
How do I store my horse’s saddle pad?
After riding, remove the pad and allow it to air dry. Store it in a cool, dry place to avoid the growth of mildew and mould. If you’re not planning to use it for an extended period, fold it neatly and store it in a cool and dry place.
How do I keep my horse’s saddle pad free of hair?
Though it’s impossible to keep horse hair from sticking to a saddle pad, it’s advised to regularly groom your horse to get rid of any excess hair. Using a brush or grooming gloves can keep shedding to a minimum. Clipping is another effective way of reducing the amount of hair your horse sheds.