There’s nothing quite like mounting your horse in anticipation of a great ride and the fresh air of the outdoors. At that moment you don’t care if it’s trail riding or riding English or Western, you and your horse have it.
It is that special relationship, between horse and man, that few outside the equine world could possibly get.
How Can You Enhance That Relationship
The tack you use, on the other hand, matters a great deal if you want to get the most out of your ride. The saddle is important – this goes without saying. But what’s under the saddle matters just as much, and the saddle pad choices for your horse and the type of riding you’ll be partaking in can be a tricky decision.
What Are Some Saddle Pad Choices
First, let’s discuss the fit of a saddle pad. This will greatly depend on your particular horse and their anatomy. Is your horse flat-backed or sway-backed? Are the withers high, very high, or low?
These all make a difference when choosing both your saddle, and your pad. It is possible to make up for some anatomical inadequacies with a saddle pad, but for the most part, you’ll want to choose a pad and saddle that are compatible and work the best for the horse in question.
Remember also that no two horses are exactly the same, so what works for one horse may not work for another. Taking your time with your saddle pad choices will be worth it.
Generally speaking, the best saddle pad will fit just past the length of the saddle itself. Any longer, and you’ll experience unnecessary bulk and movement. Next consider the type of riding you do.
Have You Considered These Choices Carefully
Saddle pads come in myriad varieties for both English and Western riding. If you are training or competing in activities such as barrel racing, you’ll need a specific barrel saddle pad. This pad will be rounded towards the back, just like a barrel saddle. This affords the horse more room for comfortable movement, and therefore, increased speed as well.
A barrel saddle pad will also be made of moisture-wicking material to keep your horse comfortable and prevent friction while practicing and competing.
Are You Planning On Competitions
If you’ll be competing in western show, you’ll want to reserve a special western show pad for use in the ring.
This won’t be the pad you’ll use every day in practice, but you will want to do a trial run or two to make sure there are no issues with the pad and saddle combination well in advance of entering the show ring. The last thing you need is for your pad to malfunction when you least expect it.
Are You Aware of the Material Choices
There is also quite a wide variety of choices when it comes to saddle pad materials. The top and the bottom layers of the pad will often be produced using two different materials, both with very different purposes.
Natural wool felt is often used to make a saddle pad, as it affords a bit of “grip” to the saddle bottom due to the cuticle layers of the individual fibers that make up the wool.
Natural wool also has natural sweat-wicking capabilities which help keep the horse comfortable. These are usually thick felt -around 2-2.5cm – that is both lightweight and extremely durable.
Natural wool felt is also one of the best choices for alleviating pressure points an ill-fitting saddle might present, and present excellent shock-absorption capability.
What Are the Traits That Make Fleece Great
Fleece is a second choice and one to consider if price is an issue. Fleece saddle pads are normally less expensive. While a fleece saddle pad will not provide the same shock-absorption as wool felt, they are still comfortable for the horse.
Keep in mind that you’ll come across both natural fleece originating from sheep, and synthetic fleece. Natural fleece provides more loft, initially, but also compresses quicker due to the natural felting tendency of natural animal fiber.
Also, the sweat your horse produces while wearing natural fleece will begin to break down the fleece if the saddle pad is not properly cared for before and after each use.
Can You Name The Advantages Of Using Neoprene
Next you will need to consider Neoprene as a top saddle pad choice. Neoprene is a more modern choice for many equine enthusiasts, as it has heat-dissipating and wicking capabilities that rival wool, without the weight.
Neoprene saddle pads will often have a “waffle” look to them – this helps alleviate heat build-up under the pad, and keep your horse much cooler when riding.
Another advantage of neoprene is that it is far more “grippy” than wool felt or fleece. If you’ve ever ridden on a saddle that likes to slip, this is a distinct advantage, as it alleviates one of the worries when riding – enabling you to enjoy your ride, not worry about falling off your horse!
Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a saddle pad. Yep that’s what I was thinking too. We need to do a bit of research, consider your horses unique shape, your saddle size, and the type of riding you’ll be doing.
After doing all of that you’ll be well on your way to choosing a saddle pad that will serve you and your horse for years to come! Many years of riding can be yours. Great riding enjoyment to you!
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