How to care for a wet saddle

How to care for a wet saddle

Sunday was our hunt’s pace event. It’s a major fund raiser for us so we loaded our horses up and set out despite the threat of rain.

And rain it did. It started to drizzle as we headed out the driveway; by the time we reached event the rain was coming down in sheets. We rode anyway (the thunder and lightening didn’t arrive until later in the day) and had a blast. It didn’t rain the whole time we were out (at least we didn’t notice) but we did get wet at the beginning.

I’m lucky enough to have a Wintec Pro Jump saddle to use in inclement weather. Actually, I like it enough to use it most of the time but it’s especially handy to have in the rain. There’s no fuss or bother when it gets wet — it dries as good as new.

Leather saddles generally do pretty well as long as they aren’t completely soaked. But that happens. I remember going to a cross country school where it rained so hard that my saddle was wet all the way through. It squelched when I was riding. It dried over time but the leather was stiff and it took several applications of leather conditioner before it started to feel soft and supple again.

Treating your saddle with care when it’s wet is important because when soaked with water, the fibers and protein bonds in the leather expand (while wet) then shrink (when they dry). This process can weaken the leather and cause it to crack and weaken when it dries.

Here are some tips for babying your saddle back to health:

  • Use a dry towel to absorb as much water as possible.
  • Condition your saddle while it’s still damp. Don’t wait until it’s already dry or the leather may crack. I like to use Leather Therapy which has an anti-mold agent, or Passier Ledersbalsam. I’ve also used Leather Honey.
  • Let the saddle air dry out of the sun. Don’t use heat to dry your saddle. Again, you don’t want the leather to crack. A dehumidifier in the room can speed up the process.
  • If the panels are wet, position the saddle so that air can circulate under the saddle too.
  • If the panels are wet, make sure you don’t position the saddle in a way that will cause the flocking to compress/squish. Keep in mind that if the wool flocking really does get soaked, you may need to have it reflocked.
  • After the saddle dries, condition it again.

Just remember, if getting your tack wet was really damaging, foxhunting in Ireland would never take place!

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