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What Are Synthetic Saddles?
A synthetic saddle is a saddle made of materials (all or in part) other than leather. The reasons synthetic saddles are so popular include:
- Light weight - Synthetic saddles usually weigh significantly less than their leather counterparts.
- Ease of care - The materials synthetic saddles are made of are easier to clean and care for than leather. Most can be wiped off with a damp cloth and never need oiled.
- Price - You can usually buy a synthetic saddle for less money than a saddle made of leather, and still have a quality, long lasting saddle.
- Styles - Synthetic saddles can come in virtually any style of English or Western saddle. They can come in bright colors, on in a more traditional, leather-like look.
What Are Synthetic Saddles Made Of?
Synthetic saddles are made of a wide variety of materials including, but not limited to:
Cordura is an extremely durable fabric that is resistant to abrasions, tears and scuffs. Cordura is ten times more durable than cotton duck, three times more durable than standard polyester, and twice as durable as standard nylon. To clean dirt, mud, sweat, etc., off of a saddle made of Cordura all that is usually required is to wipe it off with a damp cloth. If necessary, mild detergent can be used followed by a thorough rinsing (do NOT use bleach). Note: Always read and follow any care and cleaning instructions that come with a Cordura saddle over information you may find here. A synthetic saddle made of Cordura can come in dark, natural color tones or in a wide selection of bright colors.
Equileather is another material frequently used in synthetic saddles. It has a traditional, realistic, leather-like appearance. Equileather is low maintenance (simply wipe it off with a damp cloth to remove horse hair, dirt, etc.), durable (it is abrasion resistant and can often withstand conditions that would damage a leather saddle), repels water and sweat, and remains flexible in cold temperatures. In addition to synthetic saddles, you can often find Equileather in other products such as half chaps and boots.
Equisuede is a synthetic foam or suede commonly used on saddle seats or other areas. It is comfortable, does not get slippery when wet, is quick to dry, and provides a good grip for a secure ride.
BioThane and Beta BioThane
BioThane is nylon webbing covered with thermoplastic polyurethane. Beta BioThane (sometimes just called "Beta") is a newer version of BioThane that uses a vinyl coating. Both BioThanes offer durability, abrasion resistance, and flexibility even in cold temperatures. They can come in a wide variety of colors, or in realistic looking natural tones. You will most likely find a synthetic saddle made from Beta BioThane due to its ability to look and feel more like traditional leather. In addition to abrasion resistance and cold weather flexibility, synthetic saddles made of Beta BioThane are lightweight, easy to clean simply by wiping off with a damp cloth, durable, don't absorb water, and resist chafing. BioThane is also frequently used to make bridles, reins, dog collars, and other products.
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