During your first ride, you surely noticed all the different equipment that a horse wears for riding. Therefore, you must know that saddle doesn’t sit directly on a horse’s back but is placed on a piece of special material that protects the animal from abrasions and the saddle from getting destroyed.  

Choosing the right saddle pad is not easy, mainly because the comfort of a horse is the number one priority. Therefore, the list below consists of saddle pads that are great for riding.  

Diamon Wool western pad

1. Western pad Diamond Wool 

The brand Diamond Wool is widely known for its saddle pads, mainly western pads. The pad is made of wool felt, which successfully absorbs the rider’s movements and shocks. This feature brings relief to a horse’s back.  

The profiled topline is additionally reinforced with a leather strip, which makes this pad extremely comfortable for a horse. It’s an excellent choice for endurance or working horses that spend a lot of time being ridden.  

The wool is amazingly comfortable for the horse; however, a horse can get overheated during hot weather. Additionally, such a dense formula of felt makes it a bit difficult to clean and the saddle pad may have an unpleasant smell. 

Pros:    

  • Fair price for the quality  
  • Breathable material 
  • Comfortable design  

Cons:

  • Pad isn’t designed to use during summer 
  • Hard to clean  
  • Can retain an unpleasant smell 
Western Pad ECP
ECP Western Pad

2. Western Pad ECP 

This pad is made of memory foam, which changes shape to a horse’s back. This makes the pad extremely comfortable for a horse. The foam, besides retaining the shape of the horse’s back, also absorbs shocks and the rider’s movements.  

The pad’s material is very breathable and absorbs sweat very well and effectively transports it outside. These features make this pad a wonderful choice for the summer.  

Pros: 

  • Equipped with memory foam  
  • Breathable material  
  • Absorbs shocks and rider’s movements extremely well 

Cons: 

  • The joining of materials has been done carelessly  
BioFit Wool Felt saddle pad
Saddle pad Wool Felt made by BioFit

3. Wool Felt pad BioFit  

The felt, which the pad is made of, is a mix of wool and fleece and has great sweat absorption characteristics. The wool is extremely breathable and will not overheat the horse.  

The perfectly chosen material will absorb the rider’s movements, which makes this pad very comfortable for a horse. Cleaning the pad is also extremely easy.  

Due to the thick material, the pad can slide out from underneath the saddle.  

Pros: 

  • Profiled topline  
  • Breathable material 
  • Absorbs shocks and rider’s movements extremely well 
  • Absorbs sweat very well 

Cons: 

  • Quite expensive  
  • Can slide out  
Derby Originals Saddle Pad
Derby Originals Saddle Pad

4. Saddle Pad Derby Originals 

This saddle pad is among the best available on the market. Why? 

It contains a small pocket that can be used to hide keys or money. Thanks to this feature, you can go on a few hours of trail rides without any fear of losing the personal belongings that you need to take with you.  

The saddle pad has been additionally equipped with an extra layer of material that absorbs the rider’s movements and is extremely comfortable. The pad also contains straps that can be attached to the saddle to prevent the pad from sliding.  

Pros: 

  • Absorption material on the top  
  • Pocket for personal belongings 
  • Available in various colors 
  • Absorbs sweat very well 

Cons:  

  • Bad stitching  
Saddle Pad Back on Track
Saddle Pad Back on Track

5. Saddle Pad Back on Track  

This is a great saddle pad with heating features. It can bring a wonderful relief to a horse’s back after hard work, thanks to its heating and relaxing characteristics.  

The material is quite thin but still able to stimulate blood flow. This saddle pad is recommended for older horses and those that are coming back to work after an injury.  

Pros: 

  • Stimulates blood flow and warms up the muscles 
  • Great quality  
  • Easy to clean  

Cons: 

  • Thin material  
Southewestern Equine western saddle pad
Southewestern Equine western saddle pad

6. Western Pad Southwestern Equine 

This pad is made of natural wool, which absorbs and wicks away moisture. The horse’s comfort is the most important thing when riding so buying a good quality pad should be a priority.  

This pad comes in several sizes, which will allow for a better fit under the saddle. A perfectly fitted saddle pad should not slide from underneath the saddle. Ill-fitted saddle pad can lead to abrasions on the horse’s skin and destruction of the equipment. 

Pros:

  • Available in various sizes
  • Durable
  • High-quality wool 

Cons:

  • Expensive 

What kind of saddle pad should you choose?

Choosing the right saddle pad brings a lot of benefits. It’s recommended to buy a good quality pad that will wick away moisture, absorb shock and protect a horse from abrasions. 

Size 

It’s important to choose an adequate type and size to fit your saddle. Pads designed for classic saddles are divided into saddle types: pony saddles (P-pony), versatile saddles (VS), jumping (SR) and dressage (DL/DR), whereas western saddles require western pads. 

Shape 

Pads with profiled topline are worth buying. It will ensure great comfort for a horse because the back will be protected against abrasions and the withers won’t be overloaded (and subject to painful abrasion) with extra material. 

Profiled pads don’t get squished or slip from under the saddle. 

Material 

The material of a pad is a major factor in the pad’s quality. It’s important, that the material was breathable as well as absorbed and wicked away the moisture.

Additionally, the material should be easy to clean so the pad won’t retain any bad smells. 

Pads made from natural materials are well worth considering e.g., cotton or wool. Those materials are more expensive but their quality and comfort for a horse make it a good investment.

Thickness

It’s a good idea to choose a bit thicker saddle pad so it will absorb the rider’s movements better.

How to clean saddle pads?

Care and hygiene of a saddle pad is extremely important, that is why you should regularly clean it. Here are some tips, which will help you successfully clean your saddle pad:

  • Dry your saddle pad in a shaded place before washing
  • Clean your saddle pad of hair (e.g., with a comb) before you put it in a washing machine
  • Use a delicate washing detergent e.g., for kids and infants
  • Don’t wash few saddle pads at the same time
  • After washing, dry your saddle pad in a shaded and breeze place

FAQ

What is the purpose of a saddle pad?

First and foremost, a saddle pad is supposed to protect the horse’s back against abrasions, absorb the rider’s movements and additionally protect the saddle from getting destroyed.

How often do you need to buy a new saddle pad?

You should regularly check the quality of your saddle pads to make sure they are still in good condition.

The better the quality of the saddle pad that you get, the longer it will maintain good shape. If you ride often, it’s a good idea to have more than one saddle pad. That way you can exchange them if one is being cleaned.

What kind of material should you choose? Natural or synthetic?

Every material has its cons and pros.

Natural materials are more expensive but at the same time more durable, breathable and wick away the moisture.

Synthetic materials are easier to clean.

Summary

A good saddle pad is a must for successful training. Good quality equipment will not only be comfortable for a horse but also positively impact its back.