The Saddle Pad vs Blanket Debate: What Should You Choose?

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 12/14/22 •  6 min read

We were always taught that saddle blankets are Western and saddle pads are English. Both the saddle pads and saddle blankets provide an extra bit of cushioning between the saddle and the horse. Without a blanket, the saddle slips and the saddle absorbs sweat and dust from the horse which is much harder to clean from the saddle pad or blanket. 

So here we are trying to disclose the saddle pad vs blanket ideas. The most common question that arises about them is what is the difference between a saddle pad and a saddle blanket? The main difference is in their usage. The saddle pad is for both English and Western saddles but blankets on the other hand are for Western saddles only. 

Another reason people use saddles is to absorb the shocks for long riding and it comforts both the rider and the horse. Yet saddle blankets have no shock absorptions. So let’s know about the differences between the saddle pad and saddle blanket.

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Difference between saddle pad and blanket

In the introduction, we talked about some basic differences between a saddle pad and a blanket, but here we’ll let you know the detailed reason why a saddle pad or blanket is one over another.

Saddle padBlanket
PurposeCushioning and protection for the horse’s back and the saddleWarmth and protection for the horse
Additional featuresYesWaterproofing, reflective elements, etc.
MaterialCotton, felt, foamWool, synthetic fibers
Used with saddleYesCan be used on its own or in combination with a saddle pad


Saddle pads and blankets have major differences in their thickness. Blankets are simply made of thickly woven fabric with several folds. The traditional blankets come with colorful patterns and different edges. So people choose blankets according to their horse color.

In contrast, saddle pads come in one color. The thickness is much more than blankets. So colorful fabric and design are not the main things here, providing comfort is the first thing saddle pads ensure.


Yeah, the thicker things have less flexibility, no doubt about that. So the saddle pads have less flexibility. So when you sit on the saddle and the pad is under the saddle, your legs don’t feel comfortable. But you will get adjusted to it soon. 

Now come to saddle blankets, which are more flexible. Your legs simply hug the horse like nothing between them.

Slips under saddle

Back in the day, crafters used to make saddles with real shearling fleece under the saddle. The nice underside fleece fits well on horses. But when you use cheap synthetic fleece, the saddle doesn’t fit on the horse perfectly. 

So for synthetic fleece, to keep the saddle perfectly, you need more padding in fact a saddle pad. When the saddle fits almost perfectly, in that case, saddle pads are required. 

And when the fleece under the saddle has premium quality leather, then it fits so well on the horse that thin blankets are okay, preventing the saddle from slipping.

Which is better: a saddle pad or a saddle blanket?

From the differences between saddle pads and saddle blankets, we discussed, you have had a basic idea about where the two things differ from each other. Yet, cowboys use saddle blankets on their western riding. 

But we are always saying, that saddle blankets don’t have the shock-absorbing ability and that’s not good for long-riding. Saddle pad absorbs shock efficiently so you can use them both for short train riding and long trail riding.

In terms of shock-absorbing ability and saddle pad is a better option than a blanket. If the pads can give us more comfort and don’t cause back pain, then not a saddle pad is a better option.

horse saddle vs blanket

Difference between a saddle pad and a numnah

Firstly, you must know why people use saddle pads, saddle blankets, or Numnah. The saddle is quite a hard thing, and when you sit on it and ride the horse, it may create some discomfort to the animal due to friction and the sweat from the horse can damage the leather seat gradually. 

So that’s why saddle pad or Saddle Numnah is very popular among riders. Numnah is almost like a saddle blanket. They both provide similar kinds of functions. Mainly numnah shapes around the saddle. Numnah fits snugly and a small amount of it covers the horse. So it is better for hot summer days. 

But the main difference between a numnah and a saddle pad is that numnah can’t absorb the shock and is not suitable for long train riding.

Related: Do you wonder if it’s safe to ride your horse when it’s wet? Find out right now!

Baby pad vs saddle pad

Baby is not something we directly use under the saddle. We use it to protect and give comfort to the horse from the saddle pad. So if you use a saddle blanket, then no need to use a baby pad under it. 

It is an ultra-thin sheet where the heavy saddle will be placed and then smoothed it. After that, we place the saddle pad on it and then the saddle on the saddle pad. The baby pad is for keeping the saddle pad clean and giving the horse some comfort.


What is the point of a saddle blanket?

Saddle blankets for western saddles and combine the color with your horse. It has no purpose to absorb the shocks during riding. So people use it to keep the horse and its appearance look traditional.

Do you need a saddle pad?

A saddle pad is a must for everyone who rides a long trail. If you ride for only 10-15 minutes to learn how to ride or just for fun then no need for a saddle pad. Because it’s expensive, it is for absorbing the shocks and giving the horse some comfort from the saddle’s friction.

What is a saddle blanket called?

Saddle blankets are called blankets all over the world. But different blankets have different names like Numnah, Navajos, etc.

Where do you put a saddle blanket?

We put a saddle blanket under the saddle to avoid friction between the saddle’s fleece and the horse’s back.


No doubt both saddle pads and saddle blankets are for the best riding experience. Yet, People are giving priority to saddle pads. Try to learn about western saddle pads, felt Western saddle pads and neoprene western saddle pads to know which saddle pads will be best for your horse. 

Zunnun Ahmed

We 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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