Best Horse Saddle Pads

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
139 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best English saddle pads

Last Updated December 2019

The main function of a saddle pad is to keep your saddle clean by absorbing sweat and dirt from the horse’s back. Saddle pads also add some anti-slip protection, which protects the horse’s back from rubbing and friction from the saddle and can help with shock absorption from the rider’s movements.

If you have any problem spots with the saddle fit, a good pad can help alleviate any issues. That said, a saddle pad should never be used to adjust a saddle that clearly does not fit. Pinching or rolling will only be made worse by adding a saddle pad. Alternatively, you can cause a well-fitted saddle to fit badly with too much padding. With the right fit, however, saddle pads add a layer of comfort to your horse and keep your pricey saddle in tip-top shape.

Our guide has everything you need to know about English saddle pads, which are made for English saddles, and in the matrix above, you’ll find our top five picks.

Bamboo is a popular choice for English saddle pads because it’s breathable, extremely wicking, and antibacterial. It also produces 12 times less friction than cotton. Plus, it washes well and dries quickly.

Key considerations

Fit

The saddle pad shouldn’t impair the fit of the saddle. Even thicker pads should fit closely into the saddle along the spine so that the pommel is still clear of the horse’s back. You should be able to fit four fingers between the pommel and the horse.

All-purpose

Most English saddle pads are all-purpose and are suitable for schooling, trail riding, and competition. There are three basic shapes of all-purpose pads.

  • Square: The square pad is actually an oblong of material that fits across the back of the horse. This is most popular for dressage.
  • Euro: The Euro style is the same except that the front of the pad follows the front curve of the saddle. This style is currently very popular with hunter jumper competitors. Both square and Euro styles can be used with an all-purpose or a dressage saddle.
  • Shaped: A shaped pad is exactly the same shape as the saddle all around so that only the edges are visible.

Some pads are perfectly flat when laid out, but others are shaped along the spine so that they sit up and fit neatly into the gullet groove of the saddle. With these, the front part of the pad may fit quite far forward from the pommel, which is a useful anti-slip feature.

All-purpose pads come in a range of thicknesses and materials. You may well want to have several to choose from depending on different weather conditions and types of riding, how long you plan to be in the saddle, and if you are competing.

Half pads

These only cover the center part of the saddle, over the back of the horse. This stops any extra bulk under the lower leg for close contact with the horse. Sometimes half pads are used on top of a full pad for extra cushioning for the horse’s back.

Wither relief

These saddle pads are designed to provide specific padding and protection for horses with high or sensitive withers. They are usually formed into the gullet and are available in both shaped and square designs.

Seat risers

These pads have extra foam built up behind the seat. They can be used instead of a lollipop pad seat riser to help the saddle sit up and not flat on the horse’s back.

Correction pad

These saddle pads have removable shims that can be adjusted so that you can correct the way the saddle sits. This is useful if you have a horse that’s a little crooked so that you can get a custom fit. A correction pad is also handy for horses that put on weight in the summer or bulk up as they get fitter.

EXPERT TIP

Some square saddle pads have pockets where you can stash small items like a hoof pick or phone, which is great for trail use. There are also competition pads with clear plastic pockets in which you can display your competitor numbers, so you don’t have to tie them on.


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Features

Color

There are a rainbow of colors and snazzy patterns available, and some saddle pads have piping and embroidery. You can easily get pads in your team’s colors and customized with names, flags, logos, or breed stamps.

Straps

Saddle pads are designed so they won’t slip. Some don’t need extra straps, but others have straps at the front that are attached to the stirrup leather billets under the saddle flap. These pads also have two straps at the bottom that the girth passes through. Some saddles have a fixed flap, however, in which case you’ll have to either cut off the front straps or go for pads that have no straps at all.

Outer material

The most popular style of everyday saddle pads is made of quilted cotton with polyester, sometimes with a flannel underside. These pads are easy to wash and come in a wide range of colors and styles. Waffle-weave is also a good choice, especially for summer, since it allows some airflow and wicks well.

For a more cushioned pad, sheepskin has long been the go-to for luxury back protection due to its excellent wicking properties and level of cushioning. Sheepskin pads also have a very traditional look, but they are expensive and difficult to clean. Wool fleece pads also offer a traditional look, and imitation fleece and fleece-edged pads are also available.

Some saddle pads use suede, leather, or rubber for more anti-slippage. There is also an increasing number of high-tech fabric options on the market. Performance fabrics can improve pressure, shock absorption, and wicking. Some allow for better airflow to keep your horse cool. Expect to pay a premium for these kinds of pads.

Filling

Basic quilt pads have a layer of polyester filling. For a more cushioned pad, memory foam is popular since it offers a high level of shock absorption, which is valuable for long-distance riding and jumping. Some pads are filled with gel. As well as protecting from compression, gel pads also claim to massage your horse as you ride. They usually come as half pads.

If you can, designate some saddle pads only for competition so they stay crisp-looking.

English saddle pad prices

English saddle pads start at $12 for a basic quilted pad. They go up to $300 for a high-end therapeutic pad. However, for a good everyday pad, expect to pay around $50. That said, you may want to splurge on a special competition pad for around $100.

Tips

  • Run the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner over your saddle pad to get out the bulk of the hair.
  • Hose off your dirty saddle pads before putting them in the wash.
  • If you are putting a pad in the washing machine (check the manufacturer’s instructions), you may want to place it inside an old pillowcase to avoid getting any leftover hair all over the machine.
  • Lay the pad flat or place it over the back of a chair or saddle rack to air dry.
  • Soak the pad with a laundry stain remover overnight to remove boot stains or to brighten colors and whites.
  • If you store your pads at the barn, make sure it’s somewhere dry and where barn critters can’t feast on them.
EXPERT TIP

Don’t put away a dirty saddle pad. If it’s wet from rain or sweat, it can start to mildew quickly.


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Other products we considered

Weatherbeeta is a prime equine goods company that leads the way in developing synthetic turnout blankets. They also have a good range of saddle pads, including their Prime All-Purpose Saddle Pad (also available in Euro/jumper and dressage), which has a super-fitted spine that will keep even high-withered horses happy. The PVC girth patch will stop the problem of fabric wear from the girth buckles. There’s a good selection of colors available, too. If you want to go for a truly classic look with a pad that’s also easy to wash, the Derby Originals Fleece-Padded Contour All-Purpose English Saddle Pad looks elegant at a good price point. The heavy-duty cotton twill wicks well and is comfortable without bulk, while the synthetic fleece lining makes you look the part.

Pull Out: Saddle pads are optional for competition, but if they are used, some disciplines insist on the style and colors. For instance, in dressage, a square pad is used, and a white or solid conservative color is required.

FAQ

Q. Will an English saddle pad work with a Western saddle?
A.
The shaped ones certainly won’t, but some square ones will. Be aware that the girth straps and any other straps won’t line up, so it’s best to choose pads that have no straps like pillow pads. Some trail pads are designed to be used with all kinds of saddles, including English, endurance, Australian, and Western.

Q. Can I use a fitted pad with a dressage saddle?
A.
No, because fitted saddle pads are cut to accommodate a knee-roll or forward-cut saddle.

Q. How do I know which size saddle pad to get?
A.
Most sizes will correspond to the general size of your horse: full (horse), cob, or pony. Some saddle pads specify the size of the saddle, while some dressage pads note a length, which corresponds to the length of your saddle flap. It’s a personal choice as to how much you want to see below the flap, but make sure there is at least three fingers width each side between the top of the dressage girth and the bottom of the saddle pad so that you don’t pinch the horse’s skin.

The team that worked on this review
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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