We’ve all had long working days at the barn, to which we just want to get home, strip off all the dirty clothes, and sit in a hot shower until the next day. The question is, do we wear those same exact dirty, sweaty clothes back to the barn tomorrow?
Now, I’m not suggesting bringing your saddle pads home everyday and washing them. I’m simply suggesting to be more aware of something very simple to fix but very important for your horse’s health.
At the current time, I ride two horses for someone else. For those two horses I have eight saddle pads. No, I’m not that crazy horse girl that buys millions of pads because of the different designs, (although over the years I’ve collected quite a few), I simply have two main rules for any horse someone trusts me to care for. The first being, of course, that the saddle pad is fit for use. The second is knowing how much you’ve worked the horse in certain saddle pads.
Some people simply rinse off their saddle pads and think that is enough, without washing EVER. In my personal opinion, that is pretty disgusting. Now if you didn’t know you had to wash saddle pads before right now, I won’t hold any hard feelings against you. But, if you KNOW that some people wash saddle pads and you still don’t simply out of laziness, I will be sure to give you a stern look.
Horses are sweaty creatures, at least every single one I have ridden and trained has been, (let me know please if your horse HEALTHILY never sweats I want its babies), and just like humans exert more sweat the more energy they put in. So if you work a horse on the flat for 20 or so minutes going no faster than a trot, chances are they’ll be less sweaty than if they ran a cross country course.
Why do we use saddle pads in the first place? Why isn’t it a smart idea to just slap a saddle on a horse and go? It’s because, if you didn’t know, that would hurt the horse. The same goes for riding in dirty saddle pads. If you have an old, stiff, and dirty pad rubbing against your horse’s withers for all of your rides, you greatly increase their chances of several conditions. From what I’ve seen in the normal show barn, horses turn up back sore, with rain rot, or even scratches over time. The longer you wait to wash that smelly saddle pad in the bottom of your tack trunk, not only will it make your whole tack trunk smell bad, but it will cause skin conditions for your horse.
How often should I wash my saddle pads? As I previously stated, I have eight for two horses, and I wash my saddle pads at least once a month. Therefore, I can cycle through and set aside very dirty ones and always go for the cleanest one. I still recommend you rinse off your pads if available after every very intense ride or once a week, to try and encourage out the dried sweat and dirt from the surface. I may be overly OCD about the cleanliness of horse equipment, but I’ve seen enough cases in the industry to know that prevention is better than medication and care later on.