A good, well-fitting saddle pad can dramatically increase the comfort of your horse. English saddle pads are available in many different shapes, designs, and materials, so how do you know which is right for your horse? In this guide, we will share the different kinds of saddle pads, how to choose the right one for your horse, and some great options that our customers rave about.
Saddle pads, also sometimes called numnah (in the UK), act as a protective barrier to provide a thin layer of cushioning between your horse’s back and its saddle. They serve several valuable functions: to reduce friction caused by the saddle rubbing against your horse, to prevent heat build-up, to decrease shock, to absorb perspiration, and to protect your saddle from rubbing and scratches.
There are many different types of saddle pads since different riding disciplines require different types of protection or functionality. Here is a list of the saddle pad types, as well as which types are preferred by which English riding disciplines.
Sometimes custom or specialty pads can be useful, especially if you have challenges with your horse’s back such as sore spots or high withers. You may also use one if your horse’s saddle is not a perfect fit due to its natural asymmetry. These options may reduce the severity of the problem to make things more comfortable for your horse.
Some specialty pads are available that combine the benefits from these different pads. Once you determine what you need, look around to find the pad or pads that will provide the most benefit to you and your horse.
Your English riding discipline will largely determine the saddle pad you will use. Square pads are used for dressage, though they are used for other disciplines as well. Shaped pads are most often used for all disciplines except for dressage, though hunter and jumper often use half pads in the show ring. (Here are the best English jumping saddles.)
There are many different materials available. The temperature and humidity where you live will play into your decision of whether your horse needs a wicking material, as will personal preference.
For shaped saddle pads, you’ll want an even border of around two inches showing around the saddle. Determine the pad size by the type of saddle and the seat size (measuring from the screw heads on the pommel’s side to the middle of the cantle). Square pads should show a little in front of the pommel and behind the cantle, but the exact length depends on personal preference and what your horse needs. The other pads’ sizing depends on your horse’s specific needs.
Here are some of our customers’ favorite English saddle pads that we are happy to recommend.
Hands down, this one of our best selling hunter show pads. This high-end pad features Fleeceworks’ perfect balance system with removable inserts. It’s anatomically correct and versatile. The show hunter pad can be used with closed contact and all purpose saddles, and it has pockets for inserts to correct your saddle fit. The banded edges help facilitate the closest possible connection between your leg and the horse.
We love the Wilkers Fleece Edge Saddle Pad with Quilted Center because it is a great show pad with a contoured design and rolled edge. It's the perfect show pad for eq riders or for anyone looking to have the ultimate in close contact without sacrificing the comfort of the horse.
USG saddle pads are always a favorite with dressage riders and jumpers. We love the comfort, design, and style of this saddle pad.
This pad is a perfect option for schooling. It’s made from a polyester and cotton blend with a flannel underside, and it’s available in a variety of fun colors.
If you’re looking to spoil your horse, have we got the saddle pad for you! This EcoGold pad offers the most advanced heat dissipation technology and moisture management available with a strategically-placed air vent. It also offers fantastic shock absorption and friction protection.
This high-quality cotton upper with quilting makes sure your horse is cool and comfortable. It has unmatched moisture-wicking and a soft open cell foam inner for extra cushioning.
We love the non-slip design of this machine-washable and shimmable saddle pad. It’s the most comfortable and effective shock-absorber for horses and riders designed for horses with high withers.
If you’re looking for a custom saddle pad, you cannot beat the Ogilvy saddle pad. Choose your pad color, piping, and edging colors. This pad is quick-dry, stain resistant and features Ogilvy’s unique V-shaped top.
Though you may be tempted to skip getting a saddle pad given all of the horse tack you need, it’s best not to. It’s true, a horse should be able to use just a good-quality saddle. However, a saddle pad serves to protect your saddle as well as your horse. If the saddle is fitted well, only a thin pad will be needed, and this list of our favorites will help make your shopping easier.
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