Does my horse need a saddle pad?

Let's face it these days the majority of us select a saddle pad because we like the look of it! The matchy matchy culture drives sales of beautifully coloured and designed saddle cloths but is this the right choice?

Estate range saddlecloth

Firstly what is a saddle pad?

A saddle pad is a broad term for all items we place under the saddle and covers saddle cloths, numnahs, half pads, dressage squares, general purpose, close contact to name but a few. It also includes all materials such as wool, cotton, fleece, gel and so on and so on


Do you need a saddle pad?

Most importantly a saddle pad should not be used to compensate for an ill fitting saddle, this is vital. You should have a saddle fitter check the fit of your saddle on a regular basis as horses change shape throughout their lives and even throughout the seasons.

That said there are definitely some saddle pads that are helpful in acheiving a good fit. Gel pads are very popular for making fine and temporary adjustments such as lifting the back or the front of the saddle. The Gellite range offers just such a solution




 The other type of "corrective" pad is the non slip which can be beneficial for some horses.




What are saddle pads made of?

There have been some remarkeable technological advances in materials used in saddle pads and the plain and simple cotton numnah or saddlecloth is almost a thing of the past. The nature material wool has been recognised for it's many helpful properties. It is lighter and more comfortable than fleece and more breathable than most synthetic materials. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties as well as being excellent at wicking away sweat.

There are also many saddle pads with properties which allow airflow to keep the horse's back cool. One such brand from Zilco not only encorperates excellent airflow properties but also anti slip too.



Many saddle pads also contain some level of foam filling depending on how cushioned they need to be


Which saddle pad to choose?

This will depend a great deal on your saddle. If you have a general purpose saddle then you should go for the GP or AP saddle pad as this is more likely to fit the cut of your saddle. If you have a dressage saddle then you will generally need a dressage saddle pad or dressage square which are deeper and usually straighter to better suit the lines of a dressage saddle. Likewise if you have a jumping saddle then you will need a jumping or close contact saddle pad.

Next do you go for a saddle cloth or a numnah? This is pretty much a personal choice. One may better compliment your horse and saddle or you may just prefer one shape over another.

So why use a saddlepad?

Well as already touched on there are occassions where a slight temporary modification is needed to improve fit of the saddle. You may also require a little more padding and weight dispersal where long hours are spent in the saddle in endurance riding for example.

Additionally it helps to prevent wear and tear on your saddle and reduce cleaning. Then, let's face it, there's the cosmetic reasons. A stunnning and unusual saddle cloth can really compliment your horse and there are so many variations on offer now you are sure to find the right one to compliment your horse beautifully.

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