Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Welcome to our big saddle pad test 2021. Here we present all the saddle pads we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best saddle pad for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a saddle pad.




Summary

  • Saddle pads are designed to protect your horse. They ensure that your horse does not get back problems due to too much pressure.
  • There are four different types of saddle pads. The lambskin pad, the foam pad, the gel pad and the neoprene pad. All of them can be used individually.
  • The size of a saddle pad is between 16 and 18.5 inches and should be fitted to your saddle.

The best Saddle Pad: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a saddle pad

What is a saddle pad?

A saddle pad is a thick pad that is placed between the rider and the saddle. The saddle pad is designed to balance the pressure from your riding saddle and have either a round or rectangular end.

A saddle pad is a pad that is placed between the horse and the saddle. (Image source: unsplash.com / Jez Timms)

Protection for the horse's back is also important in vaulting, which is why a saddle pad is also used in this discipline.

For western saddles, you need a special saddle pad. Compared to normal saddle pads, western saddle pads are larger and made of a more stable material.

For whom is a saddle pad suitable?

In principle, a saddle pad is suitable if you want to relieve your horse or if the saddle does not fit properly. The saddle pad can be used to correct the fit of the saddle.

In some disciplines, such as vaulting, it is useful so that your horse is not injured by training with children. Basically, you can decide whether you need a saddle pad for your horse or not. It depends on the discipline and the saddle.

What size should the saddle pad be?

Saddle pads come in different sizes depending on the manufacturer. Most manufacturers specify the size in inches, but there are exceptions with centimetre specifications.

Sizes for jumping and dressage saddles start at 16 inches and go up to 18.5 inches. Saddles with 16 inches are suitable for small horses or ponies. There are also one-size saddle pads that you can cut to the right size.

What are the alternatives to a saddle pad?

There are four alternatives to a saddle pad. You can ride without a saddle pad, with a saddle cloth or saddle pad.

Saddle blankets are longer than saddle pads and thinner, although there are also versions with thicker padding. Saddle p ads are saddlecloths that are often used for festive occasions or for trail riding.

However, the saddle pad is becoming more and more important compared to the saddle cloth. There is also the woilach, a multiple folded blanket made of wool.

What does a saddle pad cost?

The price depends on the manufacturer, the quality and the material. You should follow the principle that cheap is not always bad and expensive is not always good.

The price ranges are very wide, both for used and new saddle pads. Used saddle pads can cost between approx. 10 and 125 £ and new pads approx. 25-225 £.

Type Price range
Used approx. 10 - 125 £
New approx. 25 - 225 £

Decision: What types of saddle pads are there and which is the right one for you?

When buying saddle pads, you can distinguish between four different types:

  • Saddle pad with gel filling
  • Neoprene saddle pad
  • Foam saddle pad
  • Saddle pad made of lambskin

These types each have advantages and disadvantages. It depends on what you prefer and for which discipline you want to use it.

Below we explain the differences between the types to help you decide what to buy.

What are the features of a gel saddle pad and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Gel pads are made in two varieties, with holes for ventilation and closed. Saddle pads with gel filling are available with different heights. There are some that are higher at the back, higher at the front or sideways.

Advantages
  • Elevation for pressure equalisation
  • Resistant
  • Durable
Disadvantages
  • Heat accumulation
  • Damaging to tissue if pressure is too high
  • Does not allow air circulation under the saddle

Gel saddle pads are resistant and durable. There are various elevations on the pad to equalise pressure. In addition, they do not give off heat and thus promote heat accumulation. Excessive pressure can cause damage to your horse.

What are the characteristics of a neoprene saddle pad and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Neoprene pads stand out because they cushion the steps as long as the horse moves slowly.

The advantages of a neoprene saddle pad are that it is water-repellent, non-slip and easy to clean. It also provides cushioning for the different gaits.

The disadvantages of the neoprene pad are that it is sweat-repellent and can therefore cause a build-up of heat. Long rides are also not possible with the pad.

Advantages
  • Cushioning
  • Water-repellent
  • Non-slip
  • Easy to clean
Disadvantages
  • Sweat-repellent
  • Heat accumulation
  • Cannot be used for hours

What are the characteristics of a foam saddle pad and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The advantages of foam pads are that they are shock-absorbent and do not create pressure points. They are also tear-resistant. Disadvantages of foam pads are the shifting of weight and pressure points from one to the other.

As they lose their volume due to pressure, they take longer to return to their old shape.

Advantages
  • Shock absorbing
  • No pressure points
  • Tear resistant
Disadvantages
  • Shifting of pressure points not useful
  • Take a long time to return to original shape
  • Moss rubber-like foam not suitable

What are the characteristics of a lambskin saddle pad and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Lambskin pads are very popular with experts because they distribute the pressure evenly and there is no heat build-up. However, when buying a lambskin saddle pad, make sure you don't buy a cheap product made of imitation, other skins or teddy fleece.

Lambskin saddle pads are characterised by the good pressure compensation and the use for horses with muscle atrophy. Furthermore, the lambskin absorbs the horse's sweat and lambskin pads are suitable for saddles that do not fit 100 percent.

Disadvantages of lambskin pads are that they are not water-repellent and therefore have to dry for a long time and require time-consuming cleaning. In addition, the lambskin makes the saddle smaller and can lead to pressure points.

Advantages
  • Pressure compensation
  • No heat accumulation
  • Absorbs sweat
  • Suitable for rehab
Disadvantages
  • Not water-repellent
  • Reduces the size of the saddle
  • Pressure points if the pad is too small
  • Time-consuming cleaning

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate saddle pads according to these factors

In this section we explain how you can choose the right pad based on various aspects.

A brief overview of the following criteria, which you can use to compare the different saddle pads:

  • Material
  • Weight
  • Thickness
  • Suitability
  • Price-performance ratio

In the following, we explain the individual points in detail, which you can use for the purchase decision

Material

As already explained in the section on types, there are different materials that are suitable for different purposes. We recommend that you buy a saddle pad made of robust material.

Basically, there are saddle pads with lambskin, made of neoprene, foam, with gel filling or made of mixtures. All materials have their advantages and disadvantages.

You should buy lambskin pads in the right size, otherwise the saddle will be too small and harm your horse. Neoprene pads are particularly suitable for therapy horses or horses that suffer from muscle atrophy and therefore have to walk slowly.

Foam pads used to be popular for show jumping, but are now rarely used as they collapse under too much pressure. Gel fillings can come with different heights.

Weight

The weight of a saddle pad depends on the material and the manufacturer. Weights can vary between 300 grams and 1.5 kilograms.

Saddle pads made of foam or neoprene are usually lighter than other materials. However, you should remember that light is not always good.

It depends on how heavy your saddle is and you should also take another factor into the equation, namely your own weight.

Thickness

The thickness depends on how heavy your saddle is and how much you weigh, as the weight will first affect the saddle pad and then your horse. However, it should also not be too thick, otherwise the gullet width will be greatly reduced and the saddle will be too small.

Most manufacturers assume a thickness between 9-18 millimetres and thus support the point that there is not too much under the saddle.

Here you can see a thin saddle pad that is slightly longer and adapts well to your movements. (Image source: pixabay.com / TheOtherKev)

Suitability

The suitability depends on you and the disciplines you practice. Most saddle pads are suitable for all types of riding, but there are cases where saddle pads are more suitable for one discipline than another.

Saddle pads with gel filling can be used for horses with muscle atrophy or back and/or spine problems. Saddle pads with reinforced material are also suitable for vaulting to protect your horse.

Price-performance ratio

The price categories always depend on the materials used and the quality. Not everything cheap is bad and the same applies to expensive products.

Usually manufacturers or online shops offer different prices and then your decision making should focus on the other buying criteria. You should think carefully about the materials you want in order to get a better understanding of the price.

Facts worth knowing about saddle pads

How can I get my horse used to the saddle pad?

You should get your horse used to the saddle pad slowly so as not to overtax or traumatise him. First you should try something small that you put on the horse's back from time to time. This can be a cloth or a light blanket.

As soon as your horse gets used to having something on his back, but without harming him, you can carefully put the pad on. Before you do this, you should show the saddle pad to your horse so that he is not frightened.

How do I put the saddle pad on correctly?

Before you put on something like the saddle pad or the saddle, you should make sure that your horse is clean. This will prevent him from getting chafed by something.

Place the saddle pad so that about half of it is in front of the withers. By putting the saddle on, the saddle pad comes into the right position.

Are there saddle pads for horses with spinal problems?

There are special saddle pads for sensitive backs and for horses with spinal problems. Spine-free saddle pads are designed so that they do not lie on the spinous processes and do not exert any pressure.

Saddle pads for western riding are longer so that they fit the saddle better. In the picture you can see how far back the saddle pad goes. (Image source: pixabay.com / elljay)

How do I clean a saddle pad properly?

It depends on the material. In principle, you can clean all saddle pads with water, except for the skin. It is particularly easy with water-repellent materials, as you really only need water.

Lambskin pads must either be washed by hand or, depending on the manufacturer, in the washing machine.

The easiest way is to follow the instructions when buying, then nothing will go wrong.

Image source: pixabay.com / Bhakti Iyata

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