Best Saddle Pads Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Long ago it was thought that saddle pads were used for the sole purpose of protecting the leather of your saddle. Saddle pads were placed between the horse and the saddle, adding a protective layer to keep sweat off the inside of the saddle. As time has gone by, the thoughts and theories behind saddle pads have changed slightly. Yes, they are still a great barrier for stopping sweat before it reaches your saddle.
- TuffRider Basics
- Color Choices
- Back Protection
- Diamond Wool
Now, we have put more thought into choosing a saddle that fits the horse better, so do we still need a saddle pad? Some will answer this question with a yes, while others will say no. Above all, it is believed that a saddle pad is still the best protection your saddle has. The sweat of the horse can cause the leather of your saddle to wither and eventually fail. Now with changes being made, saddle pads can change the way a saddle fits both the horse and the rider. For the horse, a saddle pad can greatly reduce the stress from the weight of the rider. While for the rider, a saddle pad can absorb some of the shocks your spine will feel from jarring. These are just a couple of things that come to mind for saddle pads.
With all the changes made to the saddle pads, how will you decide which one to choose? Well, you can ask around to see what other riders tend to use. You could also spend your day surfing the internet for possible saddle pad ideas. Both of these options are good and bad at the same time. Just because a saddle pad works for your friend, doesn’t make it a good fit for you and your horse. As for searching the internet, well that could take you forever to sift through the hundreds of saddle pads on the market. Only to come out still confused as to which one you should choose.
The next best thing you can possibly turn to is a guide that explains to you your available choices, along with how each one would work. Let me see here, where would you find something such as that? You’re in luck, that is exactly what you are currently reading. Following this guide will lead you one step closer to choosing the saddle pad that will suit you the best.
10 Best Saddle Pads
1. TuffRider Basics
Made to offer the horse the protection it needs from the saddle, this saddle pad has a relatively basic style design. No fancy features to worry about, as this saddle pad won't have any.
Although your horse won't care what color the saddle pad is, you might. Maybe you want a flashy color to show off with. You can even be more practical, choosing a color that will be easier to maintain.
Cost and Value
The protective padding your horse needs, at a price that you can be happy with. Choose a color that looks great or stick with something more traditional. The choice for color and the comfort of your horse are up to you.
- Made from cotton
- Flannel underside
- Basic design
- Comes in multiple colors
- Sizes are not accurate
- Colors are slightly off
Designed to absorb the shock during your ride, this saddle pad can improve your riding experience for both you and your horse. Intended to mold to the shape of your horse, the pad eliminates the soreness in the horses back.
You don't have to worry about your saddle slipping and sliding while you ride. The low-profile style of the pad will keep the saddle still. This will prevent the sores that can plague a horse due to friction.
Cost and Value
When you are willing to spend a little more money, you will get a more trusted saddle pad. Made from quality materials, with the safety of the horse being number one on the list.
- Prevents slipping
- Reduces soreness in the horses back
- Absorbs shock
- Easy to clean
- Seems heavy
- Complaints of instability
3. Diamond Wool
At the area of the withers of your horse, there can be some issues with pain and sensitivity. This saddle pad has a built-in relief for the wither area of your horse. Doing away with the discomfort a horse can experience during a ride.
Made from a compressed wool, this saddle pad can absorb the blows to a horse during rigorous activity levels. Another great value to this wool pad, it can be used to offset a saddle when the fit is slightly off.
Cost and Value
With so many benefits for your horse, this pad can become a valuable asset to your horse riding gear. As for the cost, well you will have to pay the price for high-quality riding gear.
- Shock absorbing
- Wither relief
- Made from wool
- Complaints that it is hard to clean
- Not as dense as expected
4. Equine Comfort Products
With this saddle pad comes the ability to change the way it sits and fits with the saddle. There are pockets that hold shims, these shims can be removed or replaced according to the changes your horse will go through.
The top of the saddle is designed to allow air to circulate under the pad. Which in turn will reduce the amount of sweating your horse will do. Which is great for the horse, as the less the horse sweats, the less the risk of getting sores.
Cost and Value
This saddle pad is packed with benefits for the cost of the saddle. Keeping the health of your horse at the top of the list right as it should be. You can control the fit by adding or removing the shims of the pad. Making sure you get the perfect fit at all times.
- Fit can be adjusted
- Topline allows for air circulation
- Relieves pressure
- Absorbs shock
- Thinner than expected
5. Classic Equine
You can be sure that this pad can help to compensate for the high wither area of your horse. Offering enough padding, that your saddle will rest properly. Reducing the amount of discomfort and stress to your horse.
Easy to Clean
With a regular routine for maintaining your saddle pad, you can ensure that the pad will last for rides to come. You can be sure that the materials used to create this saddle pad are easy to clean and keep them that way.
Cost and Value
Coming in as one of the more pricey options on our list, one must ask themselves if this will be within their budget. In the event that it is, you will not be disappointed with this purchase.
- Good for high withers
- Easy to clean
- Quick drying
- Seams came apart rather quickly
6. Derby Originals
For those long rides or even longer workdays, a rider might need a little extra storage space. Perfect for this is the smaller sized pocket toward the back of the saddle pad. You can set your car keys in the pocket or maybe even your afternoon snack.
To keep your horse comfortable and cool all at once, this saddle pad has a few tricks up its sleeves. The inside is partially lined with fleece, which will reduce the amount of sweating. Not only that, but the fleece adds a certain level of comfort as well.
Cost and Value
Whether you're riding your horse for work reasons or for a good time with friends, this saddle pad will please your horse the entire time you are riding. As a bonus, there is a pocket for you to use as storage.
- Fleece lined
- Has pocket for storage
- Foam padding
- Comes in several colors
- Seems somewhat thin
- Poor construction of the seams
7. Back on Track
For muscle support, this saddle pad has its own heating therapeutic properties to it. Promoting muscle health, as well as reducing the amount of soreness the horse will feel.
Increase to Blood Flow
The warming effect of the saddle pad tends to keep the blood of the horse pumping, which aids in the recovery time for the horse. Reducing the residual soreness in the muscles of the horse.
This saddle pad acts as a heating pad, therefore aiding in reducing the amount of soreness your horse will feel in their muscles. Using heat to promote blood flow, which cuts the time it takes for the horse to recover. These two qualities alone will set this pad apart from the others.
- Reduces soreness
- Promotes good bloodflow
- Easy to clean
- Complaints that this is way too thin
8. Southwestern Equine
This saddle pad is made from wool, which has its very own cooling and moisture wicking properties. So you can be sure that the horse's body temperature will remain regulated throughout the length of the ride.
Depending on the size of your saddle, there are plenty of options for both size and thickness available. You can choose the size that will better suit the needs of you and your horse.
Cost and Value
Here we have another amazingly qualified choice for a saddle pad. That is one of the reasons for the higher price tag. You will learn rather quickly, that skimping on the cost of your riding equipment will get you nowhere in the long run.
- Made from wool
- Comes in two thickness sizes
- Comes in several size varieties
- Seems to be hard
9. Roma F.C.
Designed to do as saddle pads have been intended to do for years. This one will protect the horse during all types of activities. Horses will need something between them and the saddle, that is exactly where this saddle pad comes into play.
With the two-tone color design, it will add some style to the look of your horse. The color contrast of the stitching adds a neat looking appearance to the saddle pad.
Cost and Value
This saddle pad does its job without all the fancy things added to it. It has proven that even the simplest of designs can be functional and fashionable at the same time.
- Basic design
- Comes in different colors
- Wicks away moisture
- Dulls after washing one time
10. Weaver Leather
For this saddle pad, there was no expense spared, using Merino wool to line the underside of the pad. Merino wool is known for adding comfort to the pad while keeping the sweat off the horse.
To add to the many great aspects of this saddle pad, it has been coated with a protective layer. This layer adds a level of resistance to both mold and mildew, which in turn can lower the rate at which your horse will catch looming illnesses.
Cost and Value
Once you have used this saddle pad, you will see just how beneficial it can be. Upon figuring this out for your self, you will not even bat an eye at the overall cost of the pad. With so many benefits, the value of this pad far exceeds the cost.
- The product is made from Merino wool.
- This saddle pad is resistant to mold and mildew.
- Horses will find this pad comfortable and soothing.
- Consumers will enjoy the unique design of this product.
- Consumers have complained that this product is not great for horses with significant withers.
Now that you have had the chance to browse through our list of saddle pads, you can see that there are plenty of options for you to choose from. A good saddle pad can keep your horse content during a ride, so be sure to choose a saddle pad that will suit the needs of your horse as well. As you can see there are plenty of options to adhere to your sense of style as well, but keep in mind that looks only go so far. If your horse isn’t satisfied, even the best saddle and pad will do you no good.
The next section will cover the criteria we used to compile our list of saddle pads. That’s right, we actually did the hard part for you. We decided to include this information for those who aren’t quite sure what actually goes into choosing a compatible saddle pad. We have also included a few questions that pop up from time to time. All of this was used to provide you with a way to make a more informed decision for selecting a saddle pad.
Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Saddle Pads
When looking into purchasing a saddle pad, the best line of defense you have is knowledge. Knowing how to fit your saddle properly will better improve the riding experience for both you and your horse. If this is your first time purchasing the gear you need to ride, we recommend seeking professional help to be sure your saddle fits the horse accordingly.
Some will argue the point that the saddle pad serves the purpose of aiding in the fit of the saddle. This is only true to a point, thinking of it in a different way can help you understand a separate way of thinking. Say you have a pair of work boots that are snug fitting, then you slap on a pair of thick wool sacks. How do you think these boots will feel on your feet now? Well, the same theory can be applied to a saddle and pad combination for a horse. When the saddle is snug, you don’t want to add a thick pad underneath.
The many different shapes of saddle pads
Straight: This pad shape is the most common one, seen more often than most. A straight pad is simply a rectangle shape with no extra cushion or curves. This type of pad best serves a horse that has a straight, more normal shaped back. For those familiar with horse terminology, this pad shape is well suited for a horse with mutton-withers. To familiarize some with the terminology mutton-withers, the withers of a horse is the shoulder area of the horse. The term mutton refers to them being flat.
Contour: The contoured pad works well for a horse that has high withers, with a dip in the back to follow. This design will reduce the amount of pressure carried in the area of the shoulders. Giving the horse a more comfortable saddle fit, as well as balance.
Cutout: A cutout saddle pad is closely related to the straight-shaped pad. These can be found to be round or square in shape but will have an area that has been cut-out. This cut-out section is found to reduce the irritation to the withers of a horse by eliminating the amount of pressure on the area.
Round: A horse with a back that is considered to be short, a round saddle pad can do wonders for them. Since the edges of the pad have been rounded, they tend to cause less restriction to the movements of the horse.
Sway-Back: Swayback for a horse means that just past the shoulder blades the back of the horse will dip. A sway-Back saddle pad will help support and compensate for this issue. A sway-back pad will add height in the area of the withers, while offering added cushioning in the middle of the pad. This will give the saddle a more level position for riding.
Wither Relief: Designed for a horse with very high withers, this type of saddle pad will keep the saddle off of the withers by adding a slightly lifted area. It will also slightly resemble the cutout style saddle pad.
Materials used to make pads
Fleece: This material is the most used material for saddle pads. It can mop up the sweat of the horse while providing a decent amount of cushion. It has been noted that with use, a fleece pad can lose some of its level of cushioning due to compression.
Felt: A felt pad is actually made from wool that has been compressed. They do a fantastic job absorbing shock for the horse while defending against heat build up. Some riders will use a felt pad for a saddle that doesn’t quite fit the way they need it to.
Neoprene: A saddle pad made from neoprene will reduce the chance of slipping. This is due to the pattern used on the bottom of the pad. Made to act as a rubber, these are waterproof, yet breathable at the same time. Many riders will choose this type of pad just for the amount of durability it holds.
Foam: Here we have two choices to look at. There are the open-celled foam pads, these are breathable and can mold to the shape of the horse over time. They will also have a softer feel to them. Closed-cell foam pads are slightly more firm than that of its counterpart. It has been said that the closed-cell foam has more anti-bacterial properties as well. Both are found with a cover normally made from nylon.
Cotton: Typically the pads that are made from cotton, are said to be the most basic form of a pad. These can be found with added pockets, for you to add some inserts. The inserts are to help adjust the fit of the saddle for the horse’s comfort.
Tips to ensure your saddle pad is the right one
- Match the shape of the saddle to the shape of your horses back. This will help the saddle pad do its job tremendously. By doing so, you will know that the saddle pad isn’t adding any pressure to the back of the horse.
- Find the style of the pad that best suits the normal activity of your horse. There are pads designed for different aspects of saddling the horse. Think of how the horse feels and acts while wearing the saddle, this can help you decide if the pad is right for your horse.
- Pads are designed with specific saddle types in mind. Choose a pad that is intended for use with the saddle you are currently using. If you use more than one type of saddle you may need to purchase more than one type of pad. A little food for thought, allow your pad to just peek out the edges of the saddle. That way you know the full saddle has coverage.
- On contrary to popular belief, saddle pads should not be used to justify a saddle that just doesn’t fit. First, find a saddle that fits your horse, there are people out there that can help you determine the fit of the saddle. The saddle pad can, however, be used to alleviate problem areas the saddle may have. You can use a pad to lessen the pressure felt by the horse, as well as choosing one that fits the horse’s body shape.
With the ever-changing times, saddle pads have greatly evolved in the area of looks. With changes to materials used to cover the pads, you can surely find one that will suit your sense of style. some will come with what seems to be all the bells and whistles to make it as flashy as possible. Just be sure that your number one reason for choosing the saddle pad is the comfort of your horse. After all the horse is the one that has to wear the saddle pad, not you. I can assure you that your horse doesn’t give a toot about fashion.
Caring for the saddle pad
Always take great care of your saddle pad, doing so can prolong the use of the pad. A pad that has lost the fill potential should be replaced. Pads made from neoprene should be replaced when noticeable wear or tearing begins to show.
You should have a regular routine for the care of your saddle pad, as well as the rest of your riding equipment. Using a dirty pad is detrimental to your horse, as it can cause your horse to get sores. Washing the pad according to the manufacturer’s directions will eliminate this issue. A more soiled saddle pad can be rinsed clean using a pressure washer, in the event you don’t have one, a do-it-yourself car wash will. To dry a saddle pad, turn it over topside, allow it to dry in the sun. The sun is better for killing bacteria caused by sweat than your dryer ever will be. Be sure the pad has dried completely before storing for the next use.
Check the fit of the saddle pad often
What most people may not think of, is depending on several factors both the shape and condition of your horse can change. When choosing a saddle pad for a younger horse, you know that their body shape will continue to change. So you certainly expect that you will need to monitor the fit of both the saddle and the pad. It works the same for your older horse as well. During periods of less activity, your horse will bulk out more, you will then notice that the fit for the saddle pad may not be right.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does it mean to shim a saddle pad?
A: Shimming a saddle pad can help adjust the way a saddle sits on your horse. A saddle pad that can host shims will have pockets sewn into the pads. You can insert the shims into the pockets to adjust for a saddle that is too wide. For a narrow saddle shimming will do you no good. If you are struggling to determine whether or not you need the shims, it is best to consult for help from a professional.
Q: How do you choose a saddle pad thickness?
A: To answer this question properly, you will need to ask yourself a serious of questions. How long are your typical rides? What is your weight? What kind of ground will you be traveling over?
For those who ride for extensive amounts of time on a normal basis, you will want to look for a pad that is just short of an inch thick. Combining the weight of your gear with your own weight can tell you what the thickness of your saddle pad should be. With a combined weight of 200 pounds or more, a pad that is at least one inch thick is best. Lastly, if the ground you travel is rough, a pad with thickness is better. You can start with one that is just under an inch thick, but be sure to keep an eye on the effectiveness.
Q: What type of foam pad is better to open or closed-cell?
A: It has been found that an open-cell foam pad is more beneficial to a horse than the closed-cell foam. The open-cell is breathable, therefore allowing air to circulate, reducing the amount of moisture that gets trapped under the pad. The closed-cell foam tends to trap sweat under the pad, this can lead to health issues over time.
Q: How do you fix pad sliding issues?
A: When your pad tends to slide around, you may have saddle fitting issues that you never knew existed. Another reason for this is the way you saddle your horse, placing the saddle either too far back or forward. Try lining the back edge of your saddle with the edge of the pad. If the sliding problem persists you may want to consult with a professional to check the fit of your horse saddle.
Q: Why would you want a saddle pad made from wool?
A: Wool has some beneficial properties to it that make it a great choice for clothing or even a saddle pad. Wool can add both warmth and a cooling effect to the person or thing wearing the wool. So when your horse sweats, the wool will pull the moisture away from the horse, which in turn will cool the horse down. Wool is an easy material to care for, it can be cleaned and will dry quickly. Last we come to the fact that wool can withstand a tremendous amount of use. With proper care and cleaning, a good wool saddle pad can hold up for years as they pass.
Q: How long should a saddle pad last before having to replace the saddle pad?
A: As much as you care for your saddle pad, they still won’t last forever. Although material choices have come a long way over time, they still don’t last forever. The length of time that the saddle pad will last can depend on several different factors. The first, the amount of time the pad is used, say you use your horse for work. Riding the horse for long periods of time, several times a week. You will notice that the saddle pad will wither more quickly, even when the best a materials are used to make it. Your routine for caring for the saddle pad will also come into play, a saddle pad that is not properly cared for will not last as long either.