We all love saddle pads whether it’s a bright white pad for competition or one of the many fun and vibrant colors we use for our everyday rides. We want to look our best, but we can all agree, our horses need to feel their best!
First, let’s talk about fit - if we are using a “square” pad, be sure it goes at least an inch past the front and back of the saddle along the spine. A shaped or fitted pad should follow the lines of the saddle and be about 1 to 1-1/2 inches bigger all the way around. It’s important to sit the saddle correctly on the pad when you are tacking up. If your pad doesn’t fit the saddle correctly this can cause discomfort for your horse - think about a wrinkled sock in your shoe - it’s hard to stop thinking about it and you may compensate for it by walking funny. Translate that to an uncomfortable saddle pad between you and your saddle and your horse. At best he or she may feel uncomfortable, or, the hair can rub off. In extreme cases your horse may try to evade the discomfort and hollow his/her back which can cause other problems. I prefer saddle pads that contour up over the withers rather than pads that are straight across the spine. This helps keep the pad from pulling down and putting pressure on your horse’s withers.
Next, be sure to keep your pads clean - especially in warmer months when the pad is more likely to get dirty and sweaty. This dried dirt and sweat can be uncomfortable causing the same issues as an improperly fitting pad.
Inspect the underside of your pads on a regular basis. Your pad may look good on the top, however, the underside that sits on your horse’s back could be pilled, worn or even have holes. If this describes your saddle pads, it is time to replace them.