Originally made from animal skins and now polyester blends, saddle blankets have come a long way in terms of ethics, means of production, and comfort. Sitting on the correct materials while riding on the back of a horse or mule is extremely important. First, you want the animal to remain comfortable and calm as it bears the weight of the load, and second, you want to ensure your own comfort so that you don’t end up chaffed and hurt. With that, here is the history of saddle blanket material for all the equestrian enthusiasts out there.
Originally, whenever people would ride horseback, saddle blanket materials came from other animals. Naturally, sheepskin was a popular material due to all its natural benefits. Sheepskin breathes extremely well, it’s durable, it alleviates and disperses heat, and it eliminates much of the friction and tension that comes with riding. It is worth noting that only sheepskin still attached to the hide holds these properties.
Felt Takes the Lead
Materials like wool make the next type of saddle blankets. Felted material is special because it has superior wicking qualities, which is great for the rider and horse. It also insulates and absorbs heat, which is great for night riding or during extreme temperatures. In more recent production, felt is layered with foam, then topped with several cotton layers for added support and shock absorption on more extreme terrain. Today, you might find these more popularly used as saddle blanket truck seat covers in eighteen-wheelers for those extra-long hauls.
One of the most inventive means of creating a saddle blanket is the recent advent of polyester and ceramic fusion. Because these blankets have ceramic pieces combined with polyester, you can heat them, and they radiate that heat to both the rider and horse. Not only does this material help with temperature distribution, but it also helps to take the stress and pressure points off the saddle and the animal.
So there are many varieties and options for staddle blanket materials out there. Whether you are a traditionalist who believes in living on the wild side or someone who leans more toward a polyester saddle blanket, you will always have options in your riding. Understanding the history of saddle blanket material will help you know where all of these things originated.