Saddle Pads – Finding the right fit for you!
It’s one piece of horse-riding equipment that we at times, don’t tend to put much thought into. However, our saddle pads and saddlecloths are far more important than being just a fashion accessory!
What is a saddle pad?
It is, as the name suggests, a pad that sits atop the horse’s wither and spine, underneath the saddle. Sometimes they are referred to as a work pad, saddlecloth or numnah, and all of these serve the same purpose, sitting under the saddle.
What is a saddle pad for?
The purpose of a saddle pad can be narrowed down to four main areas:
- Prevent the saddle from slipping and shifting
- Reduce pressure on the horse’s back
- Reduce moisture and cool the horse’s back
- Protect the saddle from dirt, sweat and horse hair
What are the differences between saddle pads?
Whilst there are a variety of material choices that saddle pads come in, they can be broadly separated into two categories: Synthetic and natural.
Some of the more popular materials include: Wool (Merino wool, sheepskin, wool pads), cotton and synthetic, neoprene, gel and foam.
How do I choose the right saddle pad?
When determining what shape and size saddle pad you need, it is important to remember that you need to find a pad that compliments or improves how your saddle fits – saddle pads should not be used as a means to rectify ill-fitting saddles.
The shape of your saddle pad can be determined by the cut of your saddle, and personal preference.
The size of your saddle pad can be determined by the size of your horse and saddle. It is best practice to measure both! A well-fitting saddle pad should extend at least 1” beyond the saddle on all sides. It’s a good idea to take note of the measurements of any saddle pad that fits your horse and saddle well as pads can vary by several inches from brand to brand and style to style.
Our top saddle pad tips!
Helpful tips to remember when you’re finding the right saddle pad are:
- Choose the right size – match the type of pad with your type of saddle
- Try to match your horse’s contours – matching the contours of your horse’s back as well as the underside of the saddle
- Choose the best material for either moisture wicking and/or shock absorption capability – the pad must provide comfort to the horse and have the attributes of breathability & controlling moisture or sweat
Why choose a saddle pad?
Good saddles will distribute pressure evenly across the horse’s back, and good saddle pads can help where saddles might fail. The number one pressure-free zone is the spine and there should also be no pressure on the sensitive wither region.
Caring for your saddle pad
A build-up of hair, dirt and sweat can cause discomfort for the horse so be sure to keep your saddle pad relatively clean. Use a brush to clean off the underside, and check the pad surface for hard spots.
Speciality saddle pads
Saddle pads work well as pressure and heat distributors under saddles and can also reduce friction.
There are a number of speciality saddle pads that provide enhanced shock absorption or provide a temporary solution when your horse or saddle has changed shape. They include:
- Sheepskin pads/half pads – mould well directly to the horse’s back, naturally wick away moisture, increase air circulation
- Gel pads – help or prevent sore backs, absorb impact, distribute weight more evenly, relieve pressure points
- Memory foam – pads filled with foam that re-moulds to the shape of the horse’s back each use, intended to help or prevent sore backs
- Riser pads – elevates the front/middle/rear of the saddle, softly distribute the rider’s weight
If you are still unsure, the team at Wholesale Horsewear House will be more than happy to answer any questions or help you find the right saddle pad to fit your needs.
Call us on 07 4613 5599 for advice, or message us through Facebook or Instagram!