Most horseback riders want their saddle pad to match their horse and saddle color. A fashionable pad is only half the battle though. Saddle pads must also reduce pressure on the horse’s back, prevent slipping, remove sweat, and keep the saddle clean. There’s a wide selection of materials, cuts, and designs available. It can be hard to know which one you need.
The Saddle Blanket
Mustang NZ Wool Laredo Saddle Blanket, $44.77; State Line Tack.
Saddle blankets are made from thick fabric that’s woven. They are usually folded in half to add additional protection. Sometimes a thin pad in placed underneath one. There’s a lot of variety in color and designs which makes it easy to match your saddle or horse’s color. Unfortunately, they slip easily or can even bunch up under the saddle.
The Felt/Wool Saddle Pad
Diamond Wool Contour Felt Ranch Pad, $74.99; State Line Tack.
These pads are made from compressed wool. They can usually be found in square and contoured designs and with leather wear patches. Wool pads are known for easily absorbing sweat. They keep your horse cool by being breathable. The natural materials are durable.
The Neoprene Saddle Pad
Lettia CoolMax Western Saddle Pad, $71.99; State Line Tack.
There are also synthetic materials available on the market. Neoprene is a popular option. They usually have a gel, foam, or wool inside with an easy-to-clean outer shell. The neoprene can be sticky, which decreases the risk of slipping. These pads are also good for shock-adsorption. Depending on the material, some can be less breathable.
When selecting a western saddle pad you must also consider the fit. The pad should be at least one inch bigger than the saddle all the way around. However, one that is too big can cause excess heat and bulk. A thicker pad is not always the best either. Choose the type of pad you need based on the type of riding you do. Those with roping horse may need something thicker and with shock-absorption, while a cutter may only need a thin pad.
Remember a correctly fitting saddle will eliminate most issues. The saddle pad should just be there to aid. Luckily, there are many options on the market based on your needs and wants.