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Saddle Pads

Saddle Pads

Once again, we’re back in bewildering territory.

Essentially, saddle pads are worn under the saddle to provide cushioning for your horse. A professional saddle fitter might argue that extra cushioning is unnecessary if the saddle is made-to-measure, but saddle pads also keep dirt and perspiration at bay, and prevent the saddle from rubbing against the horse, causing heat build-up and wear on the actual saddle. That’s the easy bit.

What kind of pad you buy will depend on the cut of your saddle (and the size of your horse). Dressage saddle pads have long straight edges, while the jumping saddle pad has a more curved front line that follows the cut of the saddle.

You may also hear chatter about numnahs, rather than saddle pads or saddle cloths, but there are subtle differences between the three. Though they essentially perform the same duty, the numnah is shaped around the saddle, and a saddle pad tends to be much thicker than a saddle cloth, which also has nylon straps, unlike a pad.

Now let’s add Western pads into the mix. These pads are large and rectangular in order to fit under the skirt of the Western saddle. While most are made of wool, some have foam sections as shock absorbers. Others have fleece-lined inners to prevent chafing or rubbing.

But back to English saddle pads – and their cousin, the corrective saddle pad.

These pads have inserts to help lift the saddle off the horse’s back or to make it more symmetrical. Many of these pads are made with memory foam, which will adapt to your horse’s shape. Other corrective pads are non-slip to prevent saddles shifting on very flat-backed horses or extra-wide, barrel-shaped ponies.

There are also sheepskin half pads that provide extra shock absorption and half pads with removable shims that can “fill up” a horse’s less developed side until the muscle builds. In short, there is a saddle pad or half pad designed to do whatever you need it to do, but do check with your saddle fitter as to what, if any, kind of extra padding your horse or saddle needs.

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