If you think saddle pads aren’t just as critical as the saddles themselves, you are one misguided horserider. But don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.
Anyhow, pads are crucial because they absorb pressure, reduce friction, and cool the horse’s back, but only if you pick a good one. So today’s topic is: how to choose a saddle pad to fit your horse.
The Horse Saddle Pad Size Rule
Regardless of the pad’s shape, the rule of thumb is to pick a saddle pad two or three inches longer than the saddle. Don’t go lower because you’ll slide over the pad on uneven terrain; don’t go higher either because the horse will become more challenging to control.
Which Material to Choose
Now that you know how to find your ideal saddle pad size, consider the available materials.
If you want the budget pick, fleece is the cheapest saddle pad on the market. Available in natural and synthetic options, fleece’s affordability comes at the cost of low durability since it tends to break down the quickest.
While on the natural side, you can check out felt, a type of compressed wool. It does a much better job keeping the animal cool and absorbing shocks during the ride.
If you want something more contemporary, neoprene is a resistant, waterproof rubber-like material with decreased odds of sliding, making them great for beginners. Finally, you can go with a cell foam option, highly comfortable albeit less breathable.
Learn About Horse Back Types and Act Accordingly
Two crucial things to follow when choosing a saddle pad are the pad size rule and the back of your horse.
Before proceeding further, let's define a horse's withers. Withers are the ridge between the animal's shoulder bones, located right below the mane. Now, let’s cover this one in a few bullet points, shall we?
- Normal wither definition - for normal, mutton withered, or flat backed horses, you should opt for straight saddle pads. Regular and flat-backed horses are pretty easy to identify. The mutton-withered horses stand out with their lack of identifiable withers from the side. Their backs seem to slope down, going from the neck to the hind with no shoulder definition.
- High withered horses - If your horse has prominent withers, they likely also have slightly narrower shoulders. These animals require special pads for increased comfort. Specifically, you can check out contoured pads or plain cutout models. Also worthy of consideration are built-up or cutback pads. Each of these models relieves the pressure from the withers and makes the ride more comfortable for the horse.
- Swayback horses - For horses with notable dips on their backs, you should get a swayback saddle. Contoured models would also work. The point is that the pad should be extra thick in the dipped part.
- Short-backed horses - Finally, use a round pad for horses with shorter backs. This shape will fit with appropriate saddles for short-backed horses.
P.S: We offer saddle pads as well. If you're interested, please check out here.