A saddle pad or numnah is thicker, usually with layers of felt, foam or other modern material sandwiched between a tough outer cover on top and a soft cover on the side in contact with the horse. The best designs absorb shock and minimize fatigue for the horse's back muscles. Saddle pads of various styles or shapes are used with any type of saddle. Sheepskin numnahs that are shaped to fit around a saddle are popular in some disciplines
English saddles typically use a shaped pad, called a "numnah" in Britain. The original purpose of the English saddle pad was simply to protect the saddle from dirt and sweat, as the panels of the English saddle provided the necessary padding and protection for the horse. It was a simple pad, either a neutral shade designed to be nearly invisible under the saddle, or, more recently, white, and shaped to fit the outline of the saddle. Today, English style pads are also used to alter the balance of a saddle and to compensate for fit problems. In addition, square pads, called saddlecloths in the UK and Australia, have become a popular style for eventing, show jumping and dressage, in part because of the ability to add insignia to the corners. They are also popular with children and casual riders because they are available in a wide range of bright colors.
There are additional new types of English saddle pads such as the "riser" pad, which is thicker in the back than the front. Other pads are made with an opening to allow extra room for the withers of the horse, some are shaped to compensate for conformational faults, and many modern "space age" materials are used, such as gel or memory foam to absorb shock, and modern synthetic materials with wicking properties to absorb moisture.
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