Metal saddle racks are cheap, easy to use, and super mobile. What better way to store your saddle at home or at a show on something that folds up easily and fits in your car? They’re also an extremely affordable way to set up a tack room in a barn. These types of saddle racks are extremely convenient, but unless you wrap them properly, you can actually be doing damage to your wool-flocked saddle.
When a saddle is being stored, it should be placed on something that mimics the shape of the horse’s back. For saddles with wool flocking, the metal will displace the flocking. So instead of being shaped to your horse’s back, your saddle becomes shaped to your saddle rack. This is not just bad for the saddle: it’s bad for your horse. Displacing the flocking affects the balance of the saddle. You can also create bulges in the wool that will cause sore spots on your horse’s back. Some saddle brands can be fixed on the spot. With other brands, your saddle fitter will need to take them home, unstitch them, re-flock your saddle, and then stitch your saddle back together. It’s time and money wasted on something that’s an easy fix.
Start by saving old saddle pads you don’t use anymore. Or pick up some used, cheap ones through tack sales or Facebook groups. Stack the saddle pads on top of the rack and secure them. My saddle fitter suggests vetrap. You want something that’s going to stick to the pads and help shape them. Your goal is to end up having a place to put the saddle that’s soft and is as close to the shape of your horse’s back as possible.
Wooden saddle racks, where the rack only touches the gullet of the saddle, is better but still not the best option for storing your saddle. In my own barn, I have a wooden saddle rack to store my (wool flocked) saddle on. I put all of my saddle pads under my saddle to help create a cushion between the wooden holder and my saddle. Even though the slim wooden rack is better because it doesn’t displace the wool, I still want to store my saddle on something as close to the shape of my horse’s back as possible.
Saddle maintenance isn’t cheap. Taking care of your saddle properly, whether it’s cleaning or storing it, will help not only make the saddle last longer, but save you time and money along the way. It’s not just your saddle that you’re taking care of, but your horse as well.