Storing and cleaning western saddle pads


These western pads do their job well – especially if you have one with contoured withers or cut-out withers. These are the only styles I recommend; otherwise, the downward pressure can pinch the withers and create a pretty uncomfortable horse. More about the logic behind this here. The downside to these beautiful western pads is that washing and maintaining them seems like a major challenge. Luckily, I have some guidelines to help you minimize the hassle.


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Tips for cleaning your western saddle pads


  • Don’t use washing machines and no dryers.  Avoid soap, too.  This is true for most western saddle pads.
  • Brush and air dry after every single use – putting a western saddle pad away damp and coated in hair will damage your pad over time. (And may lead to some *funky* smells and skin conditions.)
  • Minimize the need to wash your big western saddle pad by using an English “baby pad” underneath and against your horse.  Small and thin baby pads are machine washable and absorb a lot of sweat. Don’t worry, your horse won’t start prancing.



western saddle pad on a railing

This western saddle pad is not contoured, so I won’t use it. How can your horse’s withers lift if there’s nowhere for him to go?


How to wash your western saddle pad


  • Brush your saddle pad. I use a super-stiff brush. This gets all of the loose hair and some of the dirt off.
  • Turn on a hose, preferably one with a pressurized nozzle so you can use the spray like a squeegee, and wash your pad. No soap is necessary.
  • Alternatively, your western saddle pad manufacturer may suggest you soak your pad in a bucket of cold water.
  • Air dry, usually with the bottom up. Don’t fold or hang your western saddle pad in a manner that is not natural for it. Flat or over a fence rail usually works the best.
  • Keep your western saddle pad out of direct sunlight as you dry. Sunlight is the kiss of death for fabric strength and color retention.



western saddle pad on a saddle holder

This saddle pad is being stored on a wide wire rack – great for letting the sweat dry and keeping the shape of the saddle pad.


Options to store your western saddle pads


  • And yes, the manufacturers will also have something to say about this. Flat or folded is best, but not with anything on top of it. But that can take up a lot of space – so you may need to get creative.


  • The tops of saddles are very tempting to store your pad – be warned that this will, over time, affect the integrity of the saddle pad as the dip in the seat will change the shape of the pad.


  • Best bets? Use blanket hangers. Either singular, as you would find on a stall door, or stacked with one of those handy (and mobile) multiple blanket bars.


  • You can also go with a fancy Euro model; these are mounted on the wall and have multiple arms that swing out for blankets and/or pads (like the model pictured below). These are super space savers and can be used for many different things.



horse coolers on a blanket rack

These blanket racks can easily become western saddle pad racks.


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07/24/2024 10:33 pm GMT


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