Are you searching for the best saddle pad?
Whether you ride western, English, dressage, or even barrel race it is important to have a quality saddle pad. With this in mind, I have reviewed the top models on the market and after reading this article you will know my recommendations.
Check the quick list below for links to customer reviews and prices for my best saddle pad picks, or read on for the full review:
- Southwestern Equine OrthoRide Correction Saddle Pad
- Southwestern Equine Silverado Contoured Saddle Pad 100% Wool
- Weaver Leather Synergy Contoured Performance Saddle Pad
- Weaver Leather Contoured Saddle Pad with Merino Wool Fleece Lining
- Weaver Leather All Purpose 30″ x 30″ Contoured Saddle Pad with Felt Insert & Merino Wool Fleece Bottom
Making sure that your horse is comfortable is important when you’re going to be riding, which is why I think that everyone needs to invest in the best saddle pad that they can. This is easier said than done, however, which is why I put together this guide to help you find the right saddle pad for you and your horse.
How to Select the Best Saddle Pad
One of the first things that you must consider when shopping for a saddle pad is your horse’s contours. If your horse has special curves, then you need to make sure to choose a saddle pad that will perfectly fit the body. This is important for mutton-withered horses.
Additionally, consider the style of pad that you want, as well as its size. They come in a variety of styles, including square, shaped, and half pads. The size needs to be large enough to easily cover the space under the saddle. For example, dressage pads accommodate a longer flap and have a much straighter cut than a close contact pad.
Finally, you need to consider the material of your saddle pad. I find that this plays a huge role in how comfortable your horse will be. Cotton and fleece are popular materials to use because they wick easily and tend to be less expensive than other types of materials. Wool and sheepskin pads are more expensive, but they do a great job absorbing a lot of water, which can be great for certain situations.
Benefits of a Great Saddle Pad
While most people know that they need to use a saddle pad with their horse, I’m always surprised that some people don’t know all of the advantages that they offer. One of the main advantages of using a saddle pad is that it will keep your saddle very clean. Rather than sitting right on the horse where it can pick up dirt and absorb sweat, a saddle pad helps protect it and ensure that the saddle isn’t so dirty.
Additionally, saddle pads can actually help improve saddle fit. This is great for ensuring that your saddle rests correctly on the back of your horse, which ensures that you don’t put too much pressure along their back. This also prevents the saddle from rocking or lifting off of the back when you’re riding, which can be really dangerous.
Features to Consider
There are a few attributes that you will want to consider when shopping for a saddle pad, as these can really set pads apart from each other. One thing that I always consider is if the saddle pad is contoured. I know that a lot of people like to use plain blankets under their saddle, especially if they aren’t going on long rides, but I think that the fit of the pad is incredibly important. Some saddle pads are contoured better than others, which will help the horse stay comfortable and keep you from sliding in your saddle.
Additionally, make sure to consider the cut of the pad. There are some pads that are designed specifically to relieve pressure on the withers. These pads are great for horses who need wither relief.
Finally, if you have a horse who needs a lot of help with saddle fit and distributing the pressure from the saddle across the back, then you will want to opt for an orthopedic pad that is designed with a thick core and plenty of padding. These saddle pads are a little more difficult to find, but can make riding a lot easier for some horses.
Best Way to Use a Saddle Pad
Once you have a great saddle pad, you need to make sure that you use it correctly. In addition to making sure that it is cleaned on a regular basis, you have to be sure that it is placed correctly on your horse when you’re going to be riding. This will ensure that it doesn’t rub and that it offers support for you and your saddle.
Precautions to Consider
There are some things that you must consider when using a saddle pad to ensure that your horse is safe and comfortable. One of them is to make sure that you have pulled up the pad’s front, which helps to alleviate pressure. I find that leaving the pad front flat on the horse will rub on them and put pressure on the spine.
Additionally, never use a dirty saddle pad when riding your horse, as this can rub your horse, cause saddle sores, and make your horse sick. I find that regularly cleaning my pad is important, but so is not putting it down on anything dirty that can cause it to pick up debris. I also brush my pad between washing and use a special soap on wool and sheepskin to keep them in good condition.
Finally, I recommend checking your saddle fit on a regular basis, as your horse’s needs may change, and the pad will have to change as well.
5 Best Saddle Pads
Over the years I’ve used more saddle pads and brands than I can count. Saddle pad design has improved over the years, which has led to higher quality and more safe models available to riders of all disciplines. I have reviewed the top options on today’s market for performance, comfort, and quality.
Southwestern Equine OrthoRide Correction Saddle Pad
This is a specially contoured saddle pad that is designed to help reduce pressure and shoulder strain on the horse while also helping the saddle fit better to solve problems with lifting and shifting. Additionally, it is made from memory foam, leather, and orthopedic grade felt, ensuring that it will not only last for a long period of time, but also that the horse will be comfortable when it is in use.
- Great for horses with high withers
- Helps to absorb shock
- Assists with saddle fit problems
- Made with memory foam to fill in gaps around the saddle
- Stitching can easily pull out and become undone
- Tends to flatten under pressure from the saddle without offering a lot of support or lift
Southwestern Equine Silverado Contoured Saddle Pad 100% Wool
This saddle pad was designed not only to help wick sweat and hold water to ensure that the saddle doesn’t rub on the horse, but also to help contour to the body to ensure a snug and comfortable fit. With 1” of 100% wool, it’s easy to see how this saddle pad will offer plenty of support and wicking power without causing the horse to overheat or experience too much pressure on the withers when wearing it.
- 1” thick design offers plenty of comfort and support
- Contour shape is great for horses with prominent withers
- Made from 100% gray wool with top grain wear leathers
- Designed to wick away sweat
- Easily picks up burrs
- Can require some breaking in to ensure that the horse is comfortable
Weaver Leather Synergy Contoured Performance Saddle Pad
Not only are these saddle pads designed to be comfortable and long-lasting, but they are also attractive and brightly colored, making them great for use on the trail and in competition. Because they are made from wool and EVA sport foam, they are great at wicking moisture away from the horse, protecting the saddle, and reducing shock that the horse feels when riding. Additionally, they feature a contoured shape to help improve airflow for comfort.
- Made with wool liner for great moisture wicking ability
- Offers even cooling
- EVA sport foam reduces shock and absorbs impact
- Contoured shape is attractive and comfortable
- Can sometimes feel like it is slipping
- There are some concerns over stitching quality
Weaver Leather Contoured Saddle Pad with Merino Wool Fleece Lining
The contour of this saddle pad is designed to ensure that the horse is as comfortable as possible with a saddle, ensuring that they are happy and responding well to the rider. Due to the close fit of this pad, it’s great for racing and for fast turns and won’t make the rider feel like they are slipping, which can be really dangerous and put them at risk. Additionally, the bright colors won’t fade in the sun or with regular washing.
- Designed to be quick drying
- Reduces problems with mildew and mold
- Fits close to the body, which is great for barrel racing
- Features a felt insert, as well as wool fleece bottom
- Leather pieces tend to pull away from the saddle pad as the glue wears off
- Not as easy to wash as some other saddle pads and can start to fall apart
Weaver Leather All Purpose 30″ x 30″ Contoured Saddle Pad with Felt Insert & Merino Wool Fleece Bottom
The quality craftsmanship of this durable saddle pad is obvious, thanks to the precision stitching, perfect placement of wear leathers and inserts, and great contouring. It’s designed to be a perfect saddle pad for daily use or for special events and it is durable enough to stand up to long days on the horse. The bright colors won’t fade and make this saddle pad an attractive choice that is a great option for most any horse.
- Designed for easy removal of thorns and burrs
- Contoured fit is snug and reduces shifting and saddle roll
- Wool fleece bottom does a great job wicking away moisture
- Designed to be mildew and mold resistant
- Not as thick as other options
- Synthetic lining isn’t as comfortable or durable
For more horse riding guides and tips read these articles:
All of these saddle pads are great options, but the Southwestern Equine OrthoRide Correction saddle pad is a great choice for most any horse. Not only will it help to alleviate any pain and pressure felt by older horses, but it is also great for younger horses who have underdeveloped muscles in the shoulders. At 1” thick, it offers incredible support and control for any horse and rider, making even inexperienced riders feel much safer and at home up in the saddle. Additionally, it does a great job with correct fit problems, which can save a lot of money and frustration as it will prevent riders from having to buy new saddles.