An Introduction to Wool Flocked Saddles
What makes a wool flocked saddle wool flocked? All saddle flocking starts in the saddle panel. The most common type of saddle panel is one that is made up of wool flocking. There are many types of wool, and some are better than others. Today we're exploring the types of wool flocking and how they impact saddle fit and comfort.
First off is long fibre wool. It's usually white/cream in colour and is considered to be the best wool to use for flocking, as it is less likely to ball up in the saddle panel, causing hard lumps. Eventually over time, all flocking will ball up. However, this one is the best for the job and for longevity. Being the best, it is also the most expensive.
The next option is synthetic wool. It is typically grey in colour with some small, multi colour flecks in it. It is often made of an acrylic blend (or is straight acrylic fibres.) Synthetic wool is a more affordable option, but it does compress quickly and it will ball up in the saddle panel faster than its' natural wool counterparts.
Another option is Jacobs wool. This is a natural short fibre wool. Jacobs wool is usually light grey in colour, and feels much softer than the synthetic. Short fibre wool, which at first glance looks similar to the long fibre, as it is also cream/white in colour. Short fibre wool has a tendency to ball up quicker than long fibre, and is not used as frequently as the other types.
There are three ways to manage fit and replacement of wool in the wool flocked saddle:
1. Spot Flocking – adding or reducing wool to a fully intact saddle.
2. Panel-off Flocking – removing the panels from the bottom of the saddle to add, reduce, rework or redistribute the wool.
3. Full Re-flocking – removing the panels from the bottom of the saddle, then removing all the wool from the panels and replacing it with new wool.
It is recommended to have your saddler fitter assess the fit of your saddle every 4-6 months as your horse changes shape, due to age, muscle development, weight gain or loss, and other various other factors. Wool flocked saddles should be stripped and re-flocked every 2 years.
Advantages of wool flocked saddles include:
- A completely customized fit to meet your horse's needs perfectly.
- It's a natural and sustainable material.
- Due to it's natural abilities to cool, wool flocked saddles might aid in regulating your horse's temperature while riding.