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If there is one thing about the equine industry, it is the fact that the second we think we’ve seen it all, horses tend to show us otherwise. Especially when it comes to saddle and saddle pad fit, the varieties of conformational differences on horses can often leave us scratching our heads. Some horses have backs that are totally round with no withers, some with an average back and some withers, and some are narrow or have broad shoulders with high withers. While poor saddle fit can be a whole other story, selecting a good saddle pad can help your saddle fit the horse as it should. Best Ever Pads tries to solve some of those problems with a multitude of custom pad options. In addition to Best Ever’s signature collections, you can build the perfect custom-fitting pad for those hard-to-fit horses.
For a round-backed or “mutton-backed” horse, it is commonly best to ride a thinner pad. Issues with round-backed horses include saddle rolling, the pad slipping out the back, or dry spots from too much pad and pressure. In cases of dry spots, they are the most concerning when the dry spots are smaller and more localized. This means that there is a certain spot where the pressure is so harsh that it is keeping blood flow from reaching the area, eventually leading to soreness and white spots. Good options for these scenarios are a ½-inch Kush pad with fleece or a ¾-inch pad in OG or Kush wool. These pad options can also be customized with a deep contour spine that will help with wither clearance, keeping the pad from slipping backward, and prevent rubbing of the hair on the lower back of horses that are built downhill.
An average-backed horse can be described as one that has some withers but does not typically have issues with saddles fitting too low or saddles rolling. Recommendations vary based on the discipline for which the horse is used. As far as performance horses go, barrel horses with average withers typically do well in a 3/4-inch pad with fleece or a 1-inch pad—either pad can be made with OG or Kush wool. There are also scenarios where an average-backed barrel horse may need a ½-inch BHS pad with fleece, or the 1D-Lite pad. These circumstances may include a horse that needs additional support under the saddle, narrow horses that do not have a ton of withers, or horses with EPM that are more sensitive and need more protection.
For an average backed rope horse, a 1-inch with fleece in Kush or OG wool or a 1 1/4-inch Kush pad usually does the trick. It is important to protect the backs of rope horses, because they take more pressure and hits to their backs than most disciplines. These pads can also be a good fit for ranch horses and using horses, and fit can be specific to the horse’s build and saddle fit.
High-Withered or Swayback Horses
High-withered and swayback horses are builds that require pad customization more frequently. There is a wide range of high-withered or swayback builds in horses, including narrow horses with high withers, high-withered horses with broad shoulders, swayback horses with high withers, and more. Best Ever offers several build-up pad collections for these horses—BHS, Cadillac, Chronic and Prodigy. Each of the collections come in the Kush or OG wool and a range of thicknesses. The Kush wool comes in a ½-inch, ¾-inch and 1-inch for build-up pads; the OG wool comes in a ¾-inch or 1-inch for build-up pads.
There are many options when it comes to using build-up pads. Inserts can be movable, they can be fleece or closed-cell foam inserts, and you can design custom cut-outs in areas where a horse may need less pressure while still needing build-up in other areas of the back. Fleece inserts, like the ones used in the Best Ever Chronic collection, are great for a horse that is having “chronic” back pain or is more sensitive. These fleece inserts do a great job of adjusting to where the horse needs support and away from where there needs to be less build-up.
While there are many options out there for pad fit, the common goal is to keep equine athletes as comfortable and sound as possible so that they can enjoy their jobs along with us. Sometimes pad or saddle fit take some experimenting and thinking outside of the box, and that is one of the main objectives of Best Ever Pads. As a company built on a foundation of more than 40 years of true horsemanship, the team at Best Ever wants nothing more than to work with you to make sure you have the perfect custom pad for your horse. Click here to find options or speak with a representative about the best pad for your horse.