Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cleaning Horsey Stuff, Part 1: Saddle Pad

Ariel isn't my horse per se, and I don't own a horse (yet...) so logically, I have little horse tack. I did however, purchase a saddle pad in the spring because I was having trouble being able to regularly find a saddle pad for Ariel. I bought a "Union Hill LETTIA pad" in navy with green whales from Bahr's Saddlery. Perhaps not the best decision for a white horse, but it has matching polo wrap too! I didn't get those :P

Time for a clean up!

This summer hasn't been too bad in terms of heat but that doesn't mean Ariel doesn't sweat during a lesson. Add to that the fact that she loves to roll around in the dirt and come to me with mud caked on. I figure that since we riders wash riding clothes after a sweaty lesson, the same should be done for horse stuff (note: I intend to learn how to clean bridles and saddles eventually). I already wash the bit after lessons and ensure there isn't anything crusty left on there and then tie it up neatly in a figure 8. I also decided to wash my grooming brushes since I needed the dandy for the saddle pad cleaning.

Colour fast detergent for the saddle pad and dish soap for the brushes

Needless to say, the pad looked (and smelled like a dirty gym sock that a horse wore) like this:

That's a season's worth of yuck!

Upon closer inspection, I see that the once fleecy underside is now smooth and slightly shiny with dried sweat and dirt. The common concern that many riders have is tossing it straight into the home washing machine, full of dry dirt, sweat and horse hair. Yes, like all laundry, it goes in dirty and comes out clean. But, that doesn't mean that it's going to leave the washing machine clean enough to do your un-mentionables, or not clog up your pipes. So, after brief consultation with J, I laid the pad, underside up on the grass and grabbed the (synthetic) dandy brush to brush off as much of the loose dust, dirt and horse hair as possible.

Not much improvement...

Then I filled the brown bucket with water and a little bit of colour fast detergent. Next, I soaked the pad from top to bottom with the hose going at super stream, not spray. It didn't get a lot of the dirt off but now everything is wet; the pad is heavy, soaked with water so careful not to throw your back out! I dipped the same dandy brush into the bucket and proceeded to scrub the pad on the underside first: it was magical to see things just disappear. My final step was to dump the bucket of water onto the grass and then blast the pad with the hose on both sides. This made the pad super heavy and I had to do some squeezing and picking off of leaves and grass. I messily rolled the pad into a bundle, dumped it into the bucket and headed inside. We have a laundry sink that I used to further rinse the fauna debris from and as I was kneeding the pad, I would see all this brown water go rushing out of it. I did it a few more times and then got the washing machine ready with cold water on a quick cycle with minimal detergent (the tag called for "mild detergent").

It came out clean but I had to clear up the machine walls of any missed debris and then I put it to line dry. I go one step further and line dry outside since the weather is still good. When I get home, I check out the pad and see that there is a LOT of hair still embedded--particularly the underside. I spend the evening outside picking much of the horse hair off and then brushing with a lint brush. (Almost) good as new!

Front side after picking hair...

Still picking hair as I type this... but it's a vast improvement

After looking at things more closely and rethinking the whole dirt, sweat part, I've decided that I'll probably be washing this thing as frequently as my own breeches. AND, I'll be adding a new saddle pad to my "wish list" (in time for The Royal and the Greenhawk super warehouse sale) so I can rotate them, over the cold months.

Note: always read the cleaning label of your saddle pad! Also, I only tried this on the standard cotton/poly saddle pad.

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