A well-fitted saddle is very important to have but it can be quite difficult to find as well. There will be a lot of selection that you have to go through before you can find a well-fitting saddle that is comfortable for both the rider and the horse. Saddle pads are used by riders when they can’t find the perfect fit for a saddle.
You need to make sure that the saddle pad, as well as the saddle, conforms to the shape of the horse’s back. This can be different for different horses. The width of the saddle has to be considered when you select the pad. However, a saddle pad is not an essential item. There are many riders that do without. One of the reasons that people prefer saddle pads for horses is because it allows the rider to increase the contact area of the saddle and distribute pressure more evenly. You can alleviate certain pressure points by using this. But this will depend on the material of the saddle pad as well. The characteristics that you should consider when selecting a saddle pad are breathability which will prevent heat from accumulating, distribution of pressure evenly across the horse’s back and absorption of sweat. When it comes to liquid gel pads, you will face difficulties with breathability. But there are newer models that do better at absorbing the pressure. It is best to read many reviews and recommendations before you choose a material.
One of the traditional materials for saddles pads is lambskin. This has a lot of visual appeal but they are best to be used when you are saddling a horse that has low muscle tone. They are not recommended for regular activity. You can use them when a horse is in a rehabilitation period. This is a material that distributes pressure well and it does well in absorbing sweat and breathability. A popular material used for saddle pads is memory form. They don’t have the same drawbacks as most gel pads like not being breathable enough and they will also absorb sweat which makes it comfortable for the horse. There are many modern designs of saddle pads that focus on freeing the pressure on the spine of the horse so that it doesn’t cause any undue strain to the horse.
There are synthetic saddle pads to be found as well and you will be able to find them at a lower price point than lambskin saddle pads. However, it is a material that can quickly heat up and it doesn’t do well at absorbing sweat. So you need to be very careful when selecting a synthetic lambskin product as this will have many drawbacks the natural material will not have. In addition to lambskin, felt and rubber foam pads are also good options to consider. However, some rubber foam products don’t do well when it comes to breathability. Felt is another natural material that is made from sheep’s wool but they can have high maintenance.