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Saddle Pads

The fundamental purpose of horse saddle pads is to provide a thin layer of cushioning between the horse’s back and its saddle. A saddle pad protects against friction caused by the saddle rubbing against the horse, and it helps protect the saddle by absorbing some of the horse’s perspiration. The exterior of many saddle pads is typically made of a durable, washable fabric blend, such as cotton with polyester fibers, quilted over a thin layer of poly fill. Depending on the materials used to construct the saddle pad and its specific design features, it can offer much more functionality as well. A saddle pad made from moisture-wicking materials, such as natural sheepskin, bamboo blends or high-tech fabrics, can draw perspiration away from the horse to help prevent back muscles from overheating.
Shock absorbing saddle pad materials, such as gel or foam, can help protect the horse’s back from a rider’s impact or the inevitable slight movement of a saddle. Anti-slip technologies can keep a slipping saddle stable, and wither relief or other therapeutic pads accommodate horses with conformational challenges.

Horse saddle pads that come with shims can help compensate temporarily for an ill-fitting saddle while a professional fitting solution is awaited. Half pads, which are shaped to fit only under the panels of the saddle but not under the rider’s legs, can provide impact protection, moisture wicking or improve saddle fit. A half pad is most often combined with a regular saddle pad or with a super-thin baby pad that doesn’t offer cushioning, but instead helps keep the half pad clean.

Take note of how a saddle fits before adding thick cushioning or extra bulk. If a saddle fits a horse well, it may only require a simple saddle pad; too much bulk in a pad can cause the saddle not to fit and can create pressure points.

Pony and horse saddle pads come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors to suit both the type of saddle being ridden in and the horse’s riding discipline. All-purpose saddle pads are a popular choice of riders in hunter, equitation, jumper and even trail riding disciplines. These A/P saddle pads are essentially square, but curved at the front to follow the curves of jumping saddles with short, forward-rotated flaps. Shaped saddle pads, typically made of white, easy-care fleece, are cut to outline the shape of a particular type of saddle, such as close contact for jumping, all-purpose for both jumping and flatwork, and for dressage.

Dressage pads are essentially rectangular in shape with a long drop at the sides to accommodate the long, straight flaps of a dressage saddle. Contouring along the topline of many dressage and A/P saddle pads mimics the shape of a horse’s withers and back to offer optimal comfort and a stay-put fit. Additionally, most horse saddle pads stay secure with the use of adjustable hook-and-loop straps that wrap around the upper portion of a saddle’s billet straps and with girth loops that hold either the girth or the long billets of a dressage saddle.

While classic white saddle pads—often tastefully trimmed with colored binding, piping or a monogram—are the traditional choice for competition, color combinations in all-purpose and dressage pads can lend extra personality and style to schooling sessions, trail rides or festive mounted events. Saddle pads are offered in a rainbow of colors, prints and patterns and with a wide array of bindings and trims. Custom saddle pads for any discipline promise nearly endless color combinations for a completely personalized look.

Dover Saddlery’s selection of saddle pads includes styles, colors and designs from all the leading brands, such as Mattes, ThinLine®, Cashel®, Rider’s International, Equine Couture™, EcoGold®, Ogilvy, Wilkers and more. Finding your ideal saddle pads for schooling and showing is easy—pick out your favorites today!