How to Tie Dye a Saddle Pad

Here is a fun craft to try if you want to add a splash of color to your riding accessories! Follow our tutorial and tips to learn how to tie dye a saddle pad. We had some success and also some failure with this DIY adventure, so be sure to read all of the details to make sure you project is successful!

Drying Tie Dye Saddle Pads

Tie Dyeing is a Fun Craft Activity

Have you ever owned a tie dyed shirt or other type of tie dyed apparel? These colorful patterns have made a surge in popularity in recent years and it’s common to see them just about everywhere! If you have never tried to tie dye, it is a fun activity.

Now, not to sound like the older GenX’er that I am, but back in my day, tie dyeing was a bit more complicated (and sometimes downright overwhelming). These days tie dye kits are sold at most craft stores and big box stores and they simplify the entire process ten-fold.

T-shirts are probably the most common item that people attempt to tie dye, but let your imagination run wild with possibilities.

Tie Dyeing is also incredibly messy! Therefore, it makes a great outdoor craft. This would make a wonderful horse camp activity.

Horse Items to Tie Dye

Here are some common items you might want to tie dye:

  • Saddle pads
  • Lead ropes
  • Halters
  • Polo Wraps
  • Riding lesson apparel (not the show clothes!)

What materials are the best to tie dye?

You might not think that it matters what materials you tie dye. But it matters quite a lot. First of all, you really want to stick to white items. That is probably pretty obvious, but worth restating for the rookies. White items aren’t already dyed and therefore the tie dye colors will look best when applied to a white canvas.

Best materials to tie dye:

  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Nylon
  • Rayon
  • Woll

What material is the worst to tie dye? 

  • Polyester

(Keep reading to see just how terrible these will look if you use polyester… We unfortunately found this out first hand!)

Tie Saddle Pad Materials

For this craft, you will need the following supplies:

  • White saddle pad (COTTON is best)
  • Tie Dye (I highly recommend a tie dye kit!)
  • Plastic gloves or rubber gloves (these come in the kit)
  • Rubber Bands (these come in the kit)
  • Saran-wrap or Ziploc bags (gallon sized)
  • Water (access to a hose if possible)
  • Time (Okay, that’s mostly a joke. But in all seriousness, this craft requires a long wait for the dye to set. It’s not a quick DIY.)

Tie Dye Saddle pad Supplies

Best Workspace for Tie Dyeing

As I mentioned earlier, I always recommend taking the tie dye activities OUTSIDE. No matter how careful you are, it seems that at least some dye always finds its way on the floor or other surfaces. Wear old clothes that you don’t care about. This is not the time to wear your best show clothing or really ANYTHING that you even remotely care about.

You can use a grassy lawn to lay your tie dye project on or shallow plastic tubs or trays also work well. If you do not want the colors to run on your project (from excess dye pooling in the bottom of the tub), use a cooling rack to keep your project off the bottom.

How to Tie Dye Saddle Pads

1. I highly recommend tossing whatever items you want to tie dye through a washing machine cycle first. This wash helps to remove any stray chemicals and/or dirt that might have found their way into the fabric during the shipping/manufacturing/distribution process.

2. No need to dry the items if you will be tie dyeing right away. If your items are dry, give them a quick soak with tap water or a spray bottle. Ring them out so that they are damp but not dripping everywhere.

3. First up, the folding! Decide what patterns you might like, if any, on your items. For example, to get the spiral type design that you see on our rainbow colored pad, grab the material in the center and twist it around, rolling up all of the material.

Spiral Saddle Pad Shape Starter

Spiraling Saddle Pad

4. Place rubber bands on the material to hold it in place.

Rubber banded for tie dye

5. Prepare your tie dye. We used a tie dye kit and the only prep required is to add water to the dye bottles and shake them up. So easy! Once you add water to the dye, the dye must be used within 72 hours (after which, the dye starts to break down and lose potency).

Tie Dye Bottles

Supplies for Tie Dyeing

6. You are ready to tie dye! Put gloves on your hands and begin adding tie dye to your saddle pads.

First Tie Dye color

Rainbow spiral tie dye

Straight lines tie dye process

Completed Tie Dye Saddlepads

7. After you have finished adding dye, you need to wrap your saddle pads in plastic wrap OR simply stick each one in a ziploc bag. The directions with our tie dye kit said to let the materials sit for 8 hours, or longer for bolder colors. We let these saddle pads sit for 24 hours.

Tie Dye Projects in Bag

Tie Dye Finishing Steps

Unwrapping your tie dye creations is so exciting! It’s awesome to get a look at how the dye turned out.

1. Open the bags (or remove the plastic wrap).

Unpacking tie dye project

Mermaid Saddle Pad Wet Dye

2. Cut or pull off the rubber bands.

Tie Dyed Saddle Pad Rainbow Spiral

Mermaid Tie Dye Wet TALL

Tie Dyed Saddle Pads pony

SO PRETTY, RIGHT?! 

Final steps: The last steps in your tie dye journey are simply to rinse the saddle pads (hose, sink, bath tub) until the dye stops running. Toss them into the washing machine and run them through a wash cycle with a little detergent. That’s it!

What Happens When You Tie Dye Polyester?

Well, remember that I told you in the beginning of this post that we did run into a bit of a DIY FAIL the first time we tried this project? Yeah… about that…

I knew that cotton was the #1 best choice for tie dyeing. What I didn’t know was that polyester is the WORST material to attempt to tie dye. Simply put: the polyester material literally will not hold the dye.

So yeah, we bought these pads:

Dover Saddlery saddle pad tag

And after 24 hours of soaking tie dye, they looked brilliant and amazing. We set them on the fence to dry and BEFORE WE EVEN STARTED TO RINSE THEM, they had bled out to this faded, sad existence:

Rinsing Tie Dye Saddle pads

Washed saddle pads on fence

Bummer, right?

Learn from us: NO POLYESTER! Look for cotton!

Have you ever tried tie dyeing horse accessories before or is this the first time? What worked or didn’t work for you? Drop us a comment and tell us how it went!


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