As horse owners, we have a big responsibility when it comes to taking care of our horses. The equipment that we choose to use when riding can have a significant impact on the safety, comfort, and well-being of our horses. Whether you realize it or not, your saddle pad is one of the most important pieces of tack so you should use great care and consider a lot of options when picking your new pad.

The Dispersion of Saddle Pressure

A horse’s back absorbs a significant amount of repeated impact when being ridden under saddle (referred to as ‘repetitive concussion’). The bars of the saddle help to distribute this impact evenly over the back, as well as the constant weight of the rider. Using a saddle fitter or trusted horse trainer to ensure your saddle fits your horse properly is a great start to guaranteeing the longevity of your horse’s back. Once you have a fitting saddle, the next important piece is making sure you have the right saddle pad.

Elements of Saddle Pads

A quick type in a search engine for “western saddle pad” can have you overwhelmed in a heartbeat, and have your wallet crying for mercy. Here are some tips to help pinpoint exactly what type of pad your horse needs, and why.

  • Shape

A horse’s back isn’t straight – it doesn’t really make sense for a saddle pad to be, either! There are several different contours you may find:

            Dramatic contour, accentuated with a leather spine: This is a great overall pad for all occasions and performance riding, but most noticeably provides wither relief for high-withered horses. The additional lift of the contour allows air to travel down the horse’s spine, and keep them cooler when being ridden.

            Flex contour: These pads take up less storage space, while still offering slight wither relief. However, they excel when being used with mutton-withered or very round horses. The slight raised front and back of the spine area allow the pad to lock into place on the horse’s back and prevent saddle rolling.

            Original contour: These pads are tried and true for everyday work on horses, with a wither relief cutout to help keep the pad lifted into the saddle gullet.

  • Materials

Quality materials are key to keeping your horse comfortable.

When choosing a liner, wool blend felt is a great option when you need a pad that can go the distance between cleanings. For horses with sensitive or thin skin, a fleece liner is more maintenance but very gentle. It also can give riders a “close-contact” feel, as fleece can be compressed during riding. For horses who are working in extreme heat or sweat a lot, an F10 Virgin Merino wool liner has the capability to wick up to 20x its weight in moisture while maintaining softness and elasticity.

Felt material as the saddle pad topper is optimal when doing everyday work, or know that you may be going through brush that has the potential to snag your pad. New Zealand wool toppers are a great way to express your individual style, whether you’re practicing, competing, or going down the trail. These are generally designed with a longer drop length so the design can be seen below the skirt of the saddle.

There are a lot of inserts in the industry, and each one is vying for the top spot on the list. What Synergy® by Weaver has done with their insert is so unique, it almost can’t be compared to anything else in the industry.

Using shocking-absorbing, ventilated and lightweight EVA sport foam that is compression resistant, Synergy®’s unique inserts have proven orthopedic value for both rider and horse. When thinking about the repetitive concussion on the horse’s back mentioned earlier, this insert’s shock-absorbing capabilities allow it to not only absorb the impact from the saddle, but also take that energy and transfer it back towards the direction it came from. What does this mean as a rider? You won’t be able to feel this energy transfer, but you will notice less “bounce” in the saddle and less soreness after long rides, as this transfer works as well with movement from the horse’s back. Because these inserts don’t degrade over time and the pads are made with high-quality materials, they are a great investment that will last for years of riding.

The best part? by Weaver saddle pads are reasonable priced anywhere from $180 to $225 and are backed by a 90 day no risk test ride guarantee! View the entire collection today:

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