Saddle Pads – Choosing the right one for you.

Horse Saddle Pads.

When it comes to horse tack essentials, owning and using the right saddle pad is very important. There are plenty of high-quality brands and products out there to choose from but if you don’t have the right information and assistance to inform your choice, the right decision could be a daunting one.

That’s why it’s very important to carefully consider the type of saddle pad that best meets the needs of you and your horse. Doing so will mean your investment will contribute towards years of excellent riding experiences…….and who doesn’t want that?

What exactly is a saddle pad?

Saddle pads are a blanket-like pad located between your saddle and your horse. They are designed to protect your horse from impact associated with riding and jumping. They help protect your horse from abrasions, sores, and also help preserve your saddle by absorbing sweat that can cause additional wear, tear and staining.

Saddle pads go by many names, you may also see them referred to as a Saddle Blanket, Saddle Cloth or Numnah.

Ok, so how do I choose the right saddle pad?

At first glance, you will see that saddle pads come in various sizes, materials, colours, styles and thicknesses. Whilst these are important distinctions, there are a range of other considerations you’ll need to think on before you settle on what will be your final choice. The following seven points are by no means exhaustive, but they provide a solid starting point from which you can start to determine which saddle pad best suits you, your horse and your type of equine activity.  

1. Match to your riding activity:

Dressage – dressage saddle pads have a straighter line up the front so as to align with the wings of your dressage saddle.

Jumping – jump saddle pads are smaller and curved at the front so as to fall in line with the wings of your jumping saddle.

General Purpose – these saddle pads blend both the above shapes and can be used for a range of different activities.

2. Match to the shape of your Horse:

The contour of a horse’s back and underside are unique to your horse so determining shape requirements ensures your horse won’t experience any undue pressure on their spine or withers. 

3. Match to the right style:

Square pads – usually used by riders doing dressage

Shaped pads – for riders participating in hunter / jumper shows

Half Pads –used across all disciplines and at times with another pad

4. Match to your type of saddle:

As a general rule, ensure the cut of your pad accounts for the length of flap of your saddle and make sure it covers past the edge of your saddle, but doesn’t pass your horse’s last rib.

5. Match to improve saddle fit:

Whilst saddle pads fine tune saddle fit, they can’t fix ill-fitting saddles. Assuming you have the right saddle, the shape of your horse then comes into play in determining what type of fine tuning your saddle needs.

6. Know your materials:

Many different materials can be used in saddle pad construction

  • Sheepskin or Wool Fleece – require special care but have amazing wicking abilities.
  •  Cotton and synthetic fleece – are usually less expensive, are less absorptive but are easier to care for.
  •  Foam, gel and polyester – generally fill the inside of the pad and add extra cushioning.  

So where can I go to get the right range and advice?

Taking excellent care of your horse is crucial to making horse owning simple and enjoyable, no matter the discipline. Investing in an important piece of tack like a saddle pad is more than just an exchange of money for goods. Yes, there are plenty of products and brands known for their technological engineering and durability but it’s also important that you take the time to find a reputable saddlery with years of in-stable experience that they are willingly to share. This is key to ensuring your purchase will benefit you, your horse and the experience of each and every ride. So, do your research, get in touch and listen for how your saddlery can help ensure your choice is the right choice.