Horse saddle pads are an important piece of saddle accessories whenever going on trail rides. It is the only thing that is placed on a horse’s back. It is basically used to protect the rider.
A saddle pad refers to blankets and pads. It is designed to be placed under the saddle for cushioning. This is also a great product to protect horseback from the weight of the rider. It is useful to absorb sweat or for decorative purposes.
Saddle pads come in various styles, types, and colors. You should know well what types are and which one is perfect for your riding style. In this post, you can learn everything about them like
- Importance of saddle pads.
- Saddle pad caring tips.
- And a complete selection guide.
What are saddle pads? Why are they important?
Saddle pads are simply a piece of fabric or blankets that have been used for decades for horse riding. Different types of materials are used to make these saddle pads like felt, wool, cotton, or any type of synthetic fabric.
The fabrics are supposed to be folded to increase the thickness. Further, they are designed specially to fit particularly under the saddle, approximately 35 inches. However, the size can be varied according to horse size.
Usually, people from different countries use them for different purposes. There are two main reasons for using the English horse saddle pad. In the UK, the saddle pads are thicker or cushioned, which means foam materials are sandwiched between outer layers. They are soft sides that minimize fatigue and shocks.
The Australian stock horse saddle pads are square. In the US, they are thin and lightweight blankets and decoration is the main reason for using saddle pads.
However, using a horse saddle pad is mandatory. Because it creates a thin layer of cushioning between the horseback and a saddle. It protects from friction, absorbs sweat from horseback, and prevents back muscles from overheating.
Types of horse saddle pads
Mainly, there are two categories of horse saddle pads: English riding and western riding saddle pads. In these categories, you can find many types of saddle pads. For example:
English riding saddle pads
- All-purpose pads: This type is the most common one in English horse riding. They are versatile saddle pads that fit on most dressed saddles. They are great for riding lessons or working on a flat.
- Jumping pads: They are quite similar to all-purpose pads. These pads are thickly padded and quilted that is paired with a half pad for extra support while horse jumping. But they have shorter flaps.
- Dressed pads: These pads are bigger in length and size than the common ones. They have long saddle flaps and a large seat. Also, they have a thick pad and quilt.
- Grip pad: These pads feature rubber-like materials that work like anti-slipping. They are a great choice for horses with low withers.
- Half pad: As the name suggested, they are about half-sized saddle pads. Typically, these mini horse saddle pads are used with other saddle pads for extra support.
- Silhouette pad: This type of saddle pad is often seen in horse commercial riding. They have fleece-like material on the side and are quilted.
- Swayback Pad: These pads are used on older horses with a swayed or bony back. They have better cushioning for supporting the horse’s aging back.
Western saddle pads
- Saddle Blankets: they are actually blankets that are just folded and used. People use thick and heavy blankets that comfortably carry saddles and horses’ backs.
- Bareback Pad: They are bigger and rectangular-shaped saddle pads, and come in different colors.
Is a thicker saddle pad better? What is the best thickness for a saddle pad?
In terms of thickness, saddle pads have many variations. Because the same type of sizing and thickness doesn’t work for every horse. There are so many horse saddle pad brands that offer you different options.
There is a wide range of thicknesses available. But you should choose the right thickness so that the pads don’t rub their hips. However, the thickness depends on the riding style and discipline. Some best thicknesses are:
- 1/2″ thick: This thickness is great for showing and cutting. Since it is pretty thin, it is trickier to use. For light trail riding, this thickness will be perfect for you.
- 3/4″ thick: This padding thickness is good for light trail riding or training colts as well.
- 7/8″ thick: This is the most popular thickness all around the horse world. It works on most riding styles, disciplines, and different types of horses. This padding is great for those who ride for a longer time, probably 4 hours or more at a time.
- 1″ thick: For extreme riders, this thickness is perfect. They work great for ranch workers, performance riders, and rough terrain riders.
How can you tell if your saddle pad is fitted correctly?
Poor-fitting saddle pads don’t provide the result that you desire. While considering the saddle pad size, you should look at your saddle skirt. A longer pad is suitable if you have a longer skirted or square saddle. On the contrary, a short saddle pad is perfect for short-skirted and rounded saddles.
If your saddle pad is too long or short, it can affect your horseback. To find the correct horse saddle pad size, you can follow the rule that you have 1 to 2 inches of pad extra in the front and back.
If the pad is sticking out too much then it is not the right size. The usual size of saddle pads is 32 x 32 or 30 x 30 inches.
Horse saddle pad size chart
|Saddle pad name
|Spine size (Measurement from the center fold to the pad’s lower edge)
|Drop size(the topmost part measured end to end when unfolded)
|English all-purpose pad
|Kids all-purpose pad
|General purpose riding pad
|English close contact pad
|English dressage pad
|Western saddle pad
|15 to 16 inches
How do take care saddle pad?
As the saddle pad is an important piece of equipment, you should properly take care of it. Here are some tips for caring for saddle pads:
- Clean and wash regularly: The best caring tip is to clean and wash the saddle pad regularly. It is mandatory to clean after every ride. It prevents dirt and hair from building up under the saddle pad.
- Don’t wash with soap: Many experts don’t recommend washing the saddle pad with soap. Because it can leave soap residue and cause irritation to the animal. You should use hose water with hard pressure to clean the pads. It will dissolve salt and dirt under the saddle pad.
- Dry properly: After riding or washing, you should properly dry the saddle pad. Because dampness can cause mold and mildew growth. Simply hang out and air-dry the saddle pad.
- Store properly: You should store the saddle pad in good condition. Consider a dry place for storing.
How do you pick a saddle pad?
Choosing the right saddle pad is crucial for comfortable usage. There are some factors to consider before buying a saddle pad; they are
- Riding discipline: The intent of horse riding affects the size, shape, and material of the saddle pad. Short-term trail riding has different requirements and longer and endurance riding have different conditions.
- Material: saddle pads are available in different materials: natural and synthetic materials. But natural materials like wool felt, and fleece lining is preferable to synthetic materials. Because synthetic materials can cause irritation to some sensitive horses. Natural pads have better breathability, are durable, and are comfortable.
- Type: I have already discussed the types of saddle pads. So you can better find out which type is suitable for you.
- Comfort: while choosing the saddle pads, you should consider your horse’s comfort, shape, and size. All pads are not suitable for your horse. So you can experiment with different types to find a comfortable saddle pad.
- Size: It is the most important consideration before buying the saddle pad. Measure your horse’s shape and size as well. It will be great to add an extra 2-3 inches to the length of your saddle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is fleece or wool better on a saddle pad?
Fleece or wool are natural materials that are better for saddle pads. Because natural materials hardly cause any irritating issues to the horse.
How thick should my English saddle pad be?
It depends on your riding discipline. In this article, I have explained in detail which thickness is better for you.
Can you use a blanket as a saddle pad?
Many use blankets as saddle pads. They just fold the blanket and use it under the saddle.
Do saddle pad colors matter?
There are no terms for the colors of the saddle pads. It completely depends on your personal preference.
Trail riding should be enjoyable for both you and your horse. A saddle pad is one of the major considerations while riding your horse. This article helps you to learn how a saddle pad works and how you can get the right one.
Zunnun AhmedWe are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.
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