I’m one of those girls who you look at and know they’re a Dressage Queen (in training, at least). My riding outfit always matches and gets a lot of love on Instagram. I make sure my aesthetic matches my horse, my saddle, and even my saddle pad. I’m that person who has not one, but two monogrammed dressage pads, plus a pad with a logo from one of my favorite equestrian brands. My latest pad showed up this week and my husband finally said, “Don’t you already have a saddle pad?”
It’s been a steady 90 degrees where I live, and I ride multiple horses multiple times a week at two different barns. I don’t keep a horse at either barn and I don’t have a tack trunk, so the best chance my pads get to dry out are when I bring them home and lay them flat in my basement. Hardly ideal. Washing a saddle pad after every use isn’t practical either. But the problems don’t stop there.
The horses that I ride are also different colors. So the dark blue that looks amazing on the gray and chestnut I ride? Definitely not my bay’s color. He looks good in white and maroon. Plus, my bay is the horse I’m leasing and he needed his own saddle pad, just for him. So between maroon being a big color this year for fall equestrian fashion, and SmartPak’s free embroidery sale, I couldn’t pass up the chance at a second monogrammed pad.
Saddle pads can be a representation of anything from your favorite color to your Hogwarts House. They’re a statement of originality in a sport that favors tradition. But having multiple on hand isn’t just about making a fashion statement. When you ride more than one day a week, especially in the summer, you need to let your saddle pads dry out between rides. If you ride at more than one barn, you don’t want to chance to introduce an unknown disease somewhere else.
My husband is a paramedic, so I put it in terms he’d understand. I asked if he’d use the same sheets on the stretcher for multiple patients. Obviously, the answer is no. That’s how diseases spread. The same goes for horses. Strangles, according to John Poe, DVM, MPH, “is also frequently transmitted by fomites (objects on which pathogens can stick and infect other animals) such as contaminated twitches, lead shanks, grooms, and common watering tanks.” Even respiratory viruses can be transmitted by “directed nose-to-nose contact, contact with nasal secretions, and aerosol transmission.”
Being proactive in preventing the possible spread of disease between barns is extremely important. It just so happens that it also gives me a perfect excuse to spend a little more money on expanding my, and horse’s, wardrobe.