Saddle Pad Selection 101

As horsemen and -women, we’re constantly aware of how our horses are working and performing. At the first sign of soreness we load our horses up and head to the vet.

What if there was a preventative to the soreness you may be experiencing—and a much cheaper alternative to a vet visit? There is! A proper fitting Western saddle pad.

No More Soreness!

Shock Guard Pad: XPF® Energy Absorbing Technology within Classic Equine’s Shock Guard pad is engineered to become more dense to absorb shock.

Sliding to a stop, turning a barrel, cutting a cow, all of these maneuvers require extra protection for your horse’s back. A simple saddle pad can accommodate simple maneuvers, but the more difficult the maneuver the better constructed the pad must be. Shock absorption and energy dissipation are two key components to preventing soreness.

Materials that become dense upon impact or materials that redistribute force of impact offer scientifically engineered capabilities that reduce stress on your horse’s back and help prevent injury. Keep in mind that not all materials are created equal, though. When selecting a saddle pad research, the material types and how they are used within the saddle pad.

Determining Fit!

To determine whether your saddle pad fits your horse, feel your horse’s back before you even tack him up. Make sure you’re comfortable with how your horse’s back palpates before you put the saddle pad on—is there coolness and even sweat patterns? Put the saddle pad on and feel underneath for areas with air pockets that may indicate that even with the saddle on that might cause a bridging area. If your saddle pad is made to conform to your horse’s back, ride in it a few times before evaluating the fit as there may be void spaces that will be filled once the pad conforms.

100% WOOL FELT PAD: Select a saddle pad that is the size and thickness that you need. Classic Equine’s 100% wool felt pad is available in 30 inches by 32 inches or 31 inches by 32 inches and comes three different thicknesses.

If the pad fits your horse after evaluating, but your horse is still experiencing soreness from an ill-fitting saddle, shims may be an option. Work with a saddle fitter to place the shims on the pad to offer a better fit. In timed events or other Western events where presentation isn’t judged, placing shims on a pad without a show blanket is OK. If you don’t like the look of shims and don’t want to use a show blanket, there are saddle pads that have two layers of material that you can place the shim between so it can’t be seen.

Saddle Pad Size!

If you’re barrel racing you know every ounce matters and having full range of motion will equal more speed, so select a saddle pad that isn’t too big for your saddle. For performance horse competitors saddles are bigger, so you want to ensure the pad is big enough to allow at least an inch at the front and the back of the saddle. Having a saddle pad that’s too small for your saddle will cause rubbing and uneven weight distribution.

When a saddle pad can make the difference in chiropractic and vet bills, it’s important to know what you’re putting on your horse’s back. 

This article is sponsored by: Classic Equine.

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