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Manufactured with cotton, foam, and poly fill to bring the best comfort level while riding. Features hook-and-loop billet straps to prevent slipping and unwarranted movement.
Reports of snug fitting on a horse’s wither.
Has mildew- and mold-resistant properties that increase its durability and longevity. Gives a comfortable contoured fit, making it ideal for both rider and horse.
Not best for everyday use.
Measures at 24 inches and is fleece-lined to keep your horse warm in cooler weather conditions. Includes built-in storage pouch towards rear of the pad to keep most important things handy.
A little more expensive than some.
Made of all cotton twill, making it light and breathable. Is simply crafted with a mini diamond pattern with billet straps to prevent movement.
Does not have thick padding.
Four memory foam inserts for the Velcro-closed pockets create a custom, comfortable fit. Some users also used the pockets for their own gel inserts with excellent results. Works well for sensitive backs and for shock absorption, which is useful when jumping. A dressage/Western cut pad is also available.
Pricey and does not work well with endurance saddles.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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