What does it mean to "flock" or “re-flock" your saddle?
It can mean several things! A complete or strip flock is where all of the old flocking is taken out and all new is put in. In this picture you can see the old flocking that is in little balls and the new flocking that is fluffy. This is an easy way to put new life into your saddle. You can also have your saddle spot adjusted when a saddle fitter checks your saddle and makes small adjustments to the flocking to adjust the fit of your saddle.
How do you know if your saddle needs to be reflected?
If your saddle is firm to hard, it is a sign that it needs to be reflocked. Over time, the wool flocking compresses. With the heat from the horse, the sweat and the movement of it absorbing the rider's weight, it becomes firm, as in “felted". This is how felt is made. The wool is like your hair. If it is kept in the same position (or ponytail holder) for too long, it will lose its flexibility and just break. As the fibers break over time, they stop cushioning and just become firm. Similarly, the wool flattens out and the panels in your saddle will be firm and shrink. The reverse is also true, if your saddle is too soft, it is time to re-flock. The purpose of the flocking is to protect the horse's back from the tree of the saddle that is distributing the rider's weight. If the saddle is too soft, the tree can press through the padding and can be unstable, not distributing the rider's weight but collapsing. Either too firm or too soft are both indicators that it is time for your saddle to be re-flocked.
Adrienne Hendricks is a team member of The Equine Expert LLC, a multi-discipline equine expert witness and consulting firm with expert equestrians offering legal expert witness, consulting services and valuations in court cases and legal matters. Adrienne is an expert on saddle making, saddle fitting, and specializes in restoration. Adrienne apprenticed with Master Saddler, Suzie Fletcher, from England. As a child she grew up riding dressage, combined training, hunter/jumper and was a pony clubber. She left her profession as a stock broker to follow her passion in the saddle and tack industry. For more information on Adrienne Hendricks email firstname.lastname@example.org.