Suggestions for Storing Your Saddle
The Saddle Salon - February 2, 2018
If you just spent your precious time or hard-earned money to clean your saddle, the next step is to store and protect your investment. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Put it on a stand. Store your saddle on a saddle stand. It helps to protect it from dirt and animals. It also prevents your saddle from becoming deformed. You can either buy one or build one. They can come as individual stands, multi-tiered, or mount on a wall. Regardless of which you choose, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Does it keep everything off the ground? Floors can be dirty and wet neither of which is good for leather. You need the stand high enough your stirrups don't touch the ground. You also want a place to rest your cinches off the ground. If you are storing your saddle for a long period, remove the cinches and allow the billets to hang straight down.
Does it support the skirts of the saddle? The saddle skirts should be supported. The stand needs to be long enough and wide enough. This prevents the skirt from pulling away from the tree. It also prevents your saddle from stretching and becoming deformed.
Is it stable? The last thing you want is your saddle to fall over or come crashing down the wall. Take a moment to see if it’s stable, not easily pushed over, and secured properly.
Is the surface smooth where the wool under the skirts touches? Check the surface the wool touches. Can you run your hand on it without getting slivers? Slivers in the wool could transfer to your horse’s back. It could also damage your wool. Replacing wool typically runs between $350 and $450 to replace so be cautious. I set an old but clean saddle blanket down. Then I put my saddle on it.
Examples of Good Stands
Both stands support the skirts, are tall enough, and stable.
Notice how the stand on the right is high enough to keep the tapaderos off the ground.
Examples of Not-So-Good Stands
Left Stand: It appears to be a good stand but the skirt is on bark of a tree! This would make it prone slivers or tearing in the wool.
Right Stand: It is too short to support the skirts. It is also too low.
2. Cover it. Cover your saddle. It helps reduce how much dirt builds up on your saddle. It also helps reduce damage caused by sun exposure. Sun exposure causes your saddle to darken. Make sure the cover is made from breathable fabric. If it’s not, moisture could build up and moisture can lead to mold.
When traveling, you should also cover your saddle. If it's riding in the back of a pickup, this becomes even more important. Roads can be very dusty, muddy, or gravel-launching leading to damage on your saddle. If there was a chance for rain, snow, or muddy roads, I have used a tarp over a saddle to transport it. However, I would not leave it tightly covered by the tarp for long periods due to moisture build up.
You can buy saddle covers. You can also make your own. Look for patterns on a search engine or a do-it-yourself site. In a pinch, I have used a sheet or blanket. It’s not as good as a form fitting cover but it is better than nothing. Remember, your saddle is an investment.
3. Secure It. Wherever you store your saddle, make it secure. Naturally we don’t want someone to steal it but this isn’t the only reason to secure it. Animals can do a fair amount of damage. Cats like to sit on saddles and occasionally they use them for scratching posts. Rodents like to chew on leather. Birds can also cause damage by leaving droppings. These are just a few ways animals can damage your saddle.
You also want to choose a place that keeps it out of the weather. A leaky roof can allow water to damage your saddle and even cause mold issues. Also limit sun and light exposure. Sheds, barns, and trailers can get very hot. If you can, choose a place where the temperature does not fluctuate much. Frequent shifts between hot and cold are hard on leather, wood, and rawhide. Make sure there is at least adequate ventilation to reduce heat and moisture build up.
Taking a little time to protect your saddle can add years of service to it. Take care of it, so it can take care of you.
This is decent setup for mulitple saddles. Notice there are blankets under each saddle and nothing is touching the ground. I would be concerned about how secure the building is. It looks like water may have gotten in at times.
Not a good setup. The stands do not support the skirts and parts of the saddles are touching the ground. Everything is extremely dirty which suggests the building isn't secure. Also, it is not recommended to hang a saddle. It is hard on a saddle.