How to perform a routine health and safety check on your saddle

Our saddles are the connection between us and our horses. To ensure your safety, it's worth regularly finding a few spare minutes to check in on the condition of your tack and identify potential safety issues for you and your horse before they happen. 

We recommend looking out for the following signs of wear

If you encounter any of the below, it's worth replacing the item or contacting your nearest stockist for further advice.

Mounts and girth points

  • dryness
  • cracking
  • elongated holes
  • stretching

Left: new girth points. Right: nine year old girth points showing stretch and unevenness. 

Stirrup bars

  • securely attached
  • hinged bars or moveable clasps functioning
Left: checking an adjustable stirrup bar. Right: opening and closing a hinged stirrup bar. 


Saddle tree (internal structure)

  • excessive flexing
  • unusual noises
  • loose fixings
Left: ensuring saddle is tightly closed. Right: checking other screws such as moveable knee support. 


Underneath your saddle

  • Panels should have an even and soft feel and be the same on both sides (symmetry)
  • Chamber or channel should be wide and even
Left: new saddle panel with soft, even panels with a large flat bearing area and a wide channel. Right: old saddle showing uneven panels with lumps, a reduced bearing area and a narrow channel.



  • Overall condition of the surface grain
  • Should be supple with a strong depth of colour
Signs of wear to the surface of the leather

For more information 

  • Understand how to care for your Bates Saddle
  • See our in depth guide to intensive and restorative leather care