Saddle Pads 101
If you’ve been around horses for any appreciable amount of time, you’ve probably noticed a variety of saddle pads being used by riders. Options include everything from simple Navajo blankets to custom saddle pads that offer state-of-the-art protection for your horse’s back.
Which pad is best for your horse? As it so often happens, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. A lot of factors will determine what type of pad will work best for you and your horse. To help determine which pad would work best for you, check out this guide on horse saddle pads available today.
For many years, riders have used these brightly colored blankets, folded in half, as horse saddle pads. They are easy to take care of and relatively inexpensive. Because these blankets aren’t designed specifically as saddle pads, they have a tendency to slip out from under a saddle. If improperly folded, a Navajo blanket can bunch up or lay unevenly on a horse’s back, which could result in sores. In general, this blanket may be adequate for a steed that is ridden lightly, but it won’t provide the extra cushioning that a horse competing in a demanding event such as roping or barrel racing requires.
Wool Saddle Pads
Pads made from wool are very popular for a number of reasons. Wool is a natural fiber, so it breathes. As air gets trapped between the fibers, a wool pad can keep a horse’s back warm in cold weather, and it also can provide a slight cooling effect when conditions start to heat up. Wool will wick moisture away from your horse’s back and has a natural resiliency, which will allow it to recover its shape. Wool pads are also easy to keep clean.
Custom Saddle Pads
If your equine has conformation issues or if you’re competing in a demanding riding discipline — such as roping where your horse is subjected to sharp jolts from the saddle — a custom saddle pad is a good investment. You can, for example, design your pad with an open gullet to compensate for a horse that has high withers. In addition, you can modify the thickness of your pad. Ropers, for instance, often prefer a thicker pad than, say, a barrel racer. While a custom pad might be a little more expensive than an off-the-rack version, it could actually save you big bucks in veterinarian bills.
The Life Span of Horse Pads
Riders don’t usually give their saddle pads enough thought. They’ll use and abuse them, and occasionally wash them if they start stinking the tack room, but saddle pads need to be replaced on a regular basis. Hours of hard riding can break down the fibers in a saddle pad, which can reduce the level of protection it provides your horse’s back. The fibers where the saddle bars sit can also get packed down.
How often should you replace the saddle pad? If you ride only a few times a week, a well-made pad could last you two to three years. If you ride every day for long periods of time, you may need to replace your pad every year. You should also invest in a new saddle pad if you notice the following:
• Dry spots on your equine’s back after riding
• Bare spots or white hairs on your horse’s back
• Your saddle often shifts or rolls while riding
• Your horse is “ouchy” or has a sore back
If you are participating in more demanding riding disciplines, such as roping or barrel racing, your horse deserves a custom saddle pad that will protect its back. At Best Ever Pads, your saddle pad will be handmade in the USA and created to your specifications. Please contact us for more information or to place an order.