How do you know which saddle pads to buy? There are so many on the market! They all make great claims to do great things, but which should you be considering? Pad fit is vital, as the wrong pad can cause the right saddle to fit poorly, or not at all.
- straight pads. The horses back has curves, therefore so should the pad.
- cut back pads, as they tend to place a far greater pressure further back under the saddle where you can’t see or feel it.
- neoprene pads, as there is research to show that neoprene should not be used on a horse for more than 30 minutes at a time, due to heat-related issues.
If you are unsure about which pad to buy, it is better to arrange a consultation to check your saddle fit and find out which pad is best suited to your horse and saddle. TWS stocks pads from a number of manufacturers and has numerous different types of pad in stock.
The first step is to isolate how your saddle is fitting:
Is it too low in the front? Is the horse crooked and needs balancing for the saddle to sit straight? Does the saddle fit perfectly balanced from front to back? What back shape does your horse have, and is your saddle the same shape? How long (or short) is your horses ribcage and loins in relation to the saddle? Does your horse have high withers? How heavy is the rider? What job do you need the horse to perform? All of these (and more) dictate what pad your horse needs.
Please note, that if the saddle is too narrow over the shoulders, too long over the ribcage, or badly bridging, then no pad can help.
Makes of saddlepad stocked by TWS:
The Mattes Sheepskin Saddle pad is a fantastic pad. It tends to be mainly used for where shimming is necessary (arguably as horses change shape throughout the year, shimming is always necessary). It can be shimmed like a Pro Correction pad, and it can also be shimmed more subtly, for example, if a horse has one shoulder bigger than the other, or if the horse has wastage of the back muscles then you can build the pad up accordingly. It is also for horses that have very sensitive backs. This is a brilliant pad and is the most versatile out of all the pads. We have had a lot of success with this pad and as a result this pad is our biggest seller. Please note that the saddle has to basically fit, this pad cannot perform miracles. If you are over approximately 15 stone it may not provide enough shock absorbency, and therefore may want to look at this pad. See here of more information about the Mattes sheepskin pads.
The Pro-Correction Pad is very useful as a solution for a saddle that is too wide at the shoulder. For example, when fitting a saddle to a young horse that you expect to grow you may use this pad so you can fit a saddle that is a little too wide allowing for growing room over the shoulder. This pad is not so good for crooked horses as it does not have the capability for fine adjustment that the Mattes pad has.
Diamond Wool Pads are a top quality 100% wool felt pad. They come in many different shapes and designs including a number of different contoured pads, shimmable pad (which is excellent for the heavier rider whose horse needs a basic shimmable pad). They are made in the USA.
Diamond Wool Pads have a dedicated commitment to providing saddle pads manufactured using domestic materials and craftsmanship, Diamond Wool saddle pads have become a well respected and trusted choice of horse enthusiasts around the world. Please note that although TWS can order in the whole range, we only stock the pads that are contoured and therefore follow the horses’ natural back shape.
Equi-Pads and Classic Equine ESP Pads contain a high-density, slow recovery foam. They are of a uniform thickness all the way through the pad so are best suited to saddles that fit really well. The Equi-Pad was pressure tested alongside a large number of other types of pad, and came out very well for distributing shock and pressure, as long as the saddle fitted well. The Classic Equine pad also tested well. The Classic Equine pad is also good for the heavier rider.
Acavallo Saddle Pads are a non-toxic, anti-allergenic saddle pad made from medical soft gel. The pad is elastic and washable. It does not absorb sweat (but can cause the horse to sweat quite a lot). The pad can be used directly on the horses back and works to eliminate slipping and is a shock absorber. This is reputed to be one of the best anti-slip pads on the market (in general, a saddle should not slip if it fits well, so only use if you are sure the saddle is the right shape for the horse).
Professionals Choice Pads are probably the one of the most famous brands. Most have a Navajo blanket top, and a merino wool underside. They are breathable, pressure-distributing and absorb shock reasonably well. If the saddle is balanced (front to back) already, these may be a good choice. The pads with the shaped topline are the most comfortable for the horse as the straight pads tend to pull down over the horses withers and cause a high amount of pressure there.