Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What the flock...

So I've been reading about saddle flocking. Here are some tidbits...

Flocking material
Wool has traditionally been a good stuffing for saddles in part because it is hollow and tends to bounce back when crushed. Years ago saddles were flocked with wool/horsehair or wool/deerhair. Now most are flocked with a wool/synthetic blend to maximize bounceback. Is this good? I don't know. Some claim that pure wool or ‘natural’ wool will lump, and there are companies whose sole product is this wool/synthetic composite for saddleries around the world. Advocates of pure wood say that it is the only filler which will retain the spring and shape so that your horse’s back never gets that ‘wrinkled sock’ feeling. The best wool will be of medium length fiber and it will appear coarse. Here are two qualities of wool:
  • Staple length is the length of wool at the time of shearing 
  • Micron is the thickness of the wool
 Synthetic wool
Some saddle fitters say that mixing types of wool/flocking can affect the panel resistance on the saddle and allow for unlevelness due to different flocking having different bounce. I guess those are your purists. Not all fitters are so particular, though. Unscrupulous fitters might even use things like yarn or old rags to stuff a saddle.  I think saddle fitters have "stories to tell" -- the way fisherman talk about what they find in the belly of a shark, I bet saddle fitters talk about what they find used for flocking!

Reflocking an older saddle
 According to some saddle fitters, complete reflocks can not be done in a day. Why not? Because the flocking needs to settle for at least 24 hours as, even the most experienced saddlers have have found, sometime wool will settle and create holes. 



  1. I have heard horror stories of stuff found inside saddles. I use a fantastic master saddler who uses pure wool. I did have someone do a quick fix once with adding synthetic and it was bad. It did lump.

  2. It would be interesting to hear some of the stories as well as the opinions of saddle fitters. I wonder what Kitt at Trumbull mountain thinks.

    Her blog here.

  3. Should check with my saddle fitter friend. She always says "wool," so I'm guessing she's a purist.

  4. Hmm, that is really interesting. I wonder what saddle fitters in general think about the new "air-filled" panels, or God forbid, foam? I'll be honest and say I have absolutely no idea what's inside my saddle's panels. As a lesson student, I'm just glad it fits a good variety of backs (it's a nice saddle but didn't cost the earth, so I wouldn't be suprised if it IS foam).

    I have a very old - exactly how old I don't know as I bought it used in 1988 - Crosby Prix de Nations, which has panels crushed down into practically nothing. I'm sure they are wool. If I ever wanted to use it again it would definitely need to be reflocked. For now it just serves as a decorative piece on a shelf!


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