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English Saddle Pads

English saddle pads are items designed for use under a saddle that help to absorb sweat, protect the horse's back, and cushion the saddle. They may also be used to alter the balance of the saddle or to help fix problems related to saddle fit. As you shop for one, be sure to measure your horse's saddle to ensure a proper fit.

How Do I Measure a Saddle Pad?

Most saddle pads feature two or three measurements: length, width, and sometimes thickness. To determine correct sizing, you will need to measure your saddle and look at it on your horse. Generally speaking, you want a pad that is at least the length of the skirt with a little material to spare.

  • Pad Length: The first number found on a pad's measurement is the length of the pad along the horse's spine.
  • Pad Width: The second number found on its measurement is its width, from one side, across the withers, and down the other side.
  • Pad Thickness: Thickness can vary, and this measurement is often based solely on the filler inside it.

What Are the Types of Saddle Pads?

There are several distinct types of English saddle pads and choosing the right one depends on both function and your riding discipline.

  • Shaped Pads: These are contoured to mimic the shape of the saddle. They are available for jumping, all-purpose and dressage saddles. They are made from a variety of materials, including genuine sheepskin and synthetic fleece.
  • Square Pads: These come in a variety of color choices and stitching patterns. Competition riders typically opt for a white pad, although colored varieties are also allowed. Square pads may offer a thin layer of batting or foam on the interior for cushioning purposes, while others are lined with moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • Dressage Pads: These are rectangular in appearance with straight sides to accommodate the longer flaps of dressage-style saddles. They are available in various widths and lengths, with average sizes ranging from 22 inches wide to 46 inches long.
  • Riser Pads: These types are thicker in the back than they are in the front.
  • Half Pads: These are versatile and can increase the horse's comfort during riding. Half pads are ideal for use if your horse has a sore back or if you want your saddle and other tack to fit your horse more closely.

What Type of Material Should I Choose?

English saddle pads are made from various materials, so choosing the right one depends on both your needs and the needs of your horse. Each material differs in the benefits it offers. Look for those made of a sturdy, washable fabric blend quilted over a thin layer of polyfill.

  • Memory Foam: Memory foam or gel is preferred by many riders for its ability to absorb shock.
  • Synthetic Fleece: Appreciated for its economical nature, synthetic fleece is machine washable.
  • Genuine Sheepskin: Genuine sheepskin is favored for its moisture-wicking ability and for its ability to increase air circulation. The sheepskin fibers also mold to the horse's back.