Storage & Handling
What you do to your saddle when it’s off your horse is every bit as important as what you do to it when it’s on your horse.
Like everything else in our lives, saddles reflect the attention and respect that we grant them. Treat your saddle carefully, and it will give you many years of eye-pleasing and hard-working service. Treat your saddle carelessly, and it will quickly lose both its good looks and its working value.
Even if you regularly clean and condition your saddle, your diligence won’t matter much unless you store and handle it properly.
Take the Right Stand
It doesn’t matter whether you use a commercial saddle stand or one you built in your garage, as long as it is large enough and tall enough to do the job properly. It must give your saddle support along its entire body and allow the stirrups, flaps, and straps to hang straight down without touching the ground. On a stand that’s too small, a saddle’s weight can cause its parts to buckle, bend, or curl out of shape. Straps and stirrups that don’t hang freely can likewise twist in unintended directions.
While your saddle is resting on its stand, use this downtime to turn stirrups that hang parallel to the horse. Read our “Saddle Twist” section to learn how to train them to hang perpendicularly to accommodate the natural position of your feet.
Excessive moisture, extreme heat, and direct sunlight can age saddle leather as quickly as they age our skin, turning it from soft and supple to hard and brittle in no time. Always store your saddle in a dry area sheltered from direct sunlight.
Grounds for Concern
If you absolutely must leave your saddle on the ground, do so only for short periods and with the saddle upside-down or on its side with flaps and stirrups straight out.
Staying Under Cover
Stored saddles need protection from bugs, animals, dirt, moisture, and a host of other harmful agents. In a budgetary pinch, it’s okay to forego a pricey commercial saddle cover in favor of a makeshift one such as a blanket or sheet, provided it’s clean and porous. Never use a plastic cover, as it prevents the saddle material from breathing, thus trapping moisture and generating mildew. A cushioned saddle carrier and saddle pad carrier are worthwhile investments if you routinely travel with your saddle.
Half the Battle Won
Adhering to these storage and handling guidelines is a crucial part of proper saddle care, but you also need to follow a regular cleaning and conditioning schedule to preserve the beauty and utility of your saddle.
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