Buying Guide for Horse Saddle Pads
Why invest in saddle pads for your horse(s)?
Scientific studies have proven the importance of equipping your horse’s saddle with a supplementary pad to help lessen friction between them and the seat. The friction can cause painful lesions on your horse, so pads are important additions. The extra cushioning also shields their mane and skin from excess sweat and dirt, which also contribute to chafing. Slipping a soft, absorbent saddle pad between your saddle and horse will help keep your animal friend cool, happy, and sore-free.
What should you know about shopping for saddle pads?
- Type: Based on the riding style, pad designs can vary. For example, Western saddles are generally bigger than English, demanding a larger saddle pad. Make sure the pad is at least the same size as the saddle. It’s also important to make sure the pad’s curvature matches the horse’s curvature for the most natural, comfortable fit.
- Material: Fleece, mesh, flannel, synthetic suede—you’ve got a lot of options. And there’s no right or wrong choice; as long as it’s safe, comfortable for the horse and rider, and fits correctly, providing sufficient protection from chafing, it’ll be good.
- Flexibility: Like humans, horses’ bodies change over time, whether they’re simply getting older or their daily workout routine has changed. Search for a saddle pad that allows for growth and remains even with your horse’s curvature.
How thick of a saddle pad should you buy?
There are a few things that will affect how thick of a pad you’ll want. If you and your gear weigh more than 200 pounds, if you ride for long periods of time, at faster speeds, or on rougher terrain, it’s a good idea to buy a thicker saddle pad—shoot for an inch of thickness. If you only ride on flatter surfaces, for shorter periods, and at slower speeds, thinner pads will work just fine.
Our Top Picks for the Best Horse Saddle Pads
TuffRider Basic All-Purpose Saddle Pad
Choose your favorite saddle pad from more than 15 colors.
Pros: This beautiful, diamond-quilted 21- by 25-inch pad from TuffRider is functionality and comfort in one. Constructed from polyester and cotton and lined in flannel, it’s strong and practical, making for the perfect schooling saddle. It also features hook-and-loop billet straps and is available in more than 15 vibrant colors. You can even toss it in the washer and dryer for easy cleaning.
Cons: These simple, all-purpose pads are sized more for English-style saddles. Just be sure to check the dimensions of your saddle before ordering.
Bottom Line: There are no tricks here—just a quality, practical saddle pad that will provide soft, suitable padding for your horse. And you can’t beat the value!
Intrepid International Comfort Plus Western Bareback Pad
Get breathable, high-quality fabric with a nonslip bottom and girth.
Pros: A gorgeous piece of equipment by Intrepid International, this saddle pad is all about natural comfort and style for bareback riders in case you want to ditch the saddle for a day. It’s made from synthetic suede, a breathable fabric, and it features a luxurious fleece overlay for extra flair. Its shape is designed to follow the flow of your horse’s back, providing extra cushioning between their shoulder blades. Its nonslip bottom and girth help keep riders up and steady.
Cons: This saddle pad is expensive compared to the other options on this list.
Bottom Line: This is a well-made, handy, comfortable piece of equipment to keep on hand, especially if you plan to interchange saddle and bareback riding.
ECP Correction Contoured Memory Foam Saddle Pad
The foam contouring on this saddle pad offsets the horse's changes.
Pros: This customizable, cotton-constructed correction saddle pad ensures consistent contouring to your horse’s body, even as it grows and changes. The included foam pads are all you need to adjust to changes in your horse’s shape—simply insert the extra padding to help compensate and remove padding when it’s no longer needed. The memory foam inserts also help better absorb shock while riding.
Cons: When you’re ready to remove the foam inserts to wash it, it may be difficult to maneuver the pads out of the saddle pad. Just use some elbow grease and a little patience.
Bottom Line: Invest in a soft, attractive, customizable saddle pad from ECP for an extra-tailored riding experience for you and your larger-than-life friend. It’s a long-term solution for growing and changing horses.
HORZE Quilted Half Saddle Pad with Fleece
This quilted pad features an extra-soft, cushioned underside.
Pros: This saddle pad is classy and elegant to match your style. This HORZE saddle half-pad, available for horses and ponies, is beautifully quilted and trimmed in faux fur for an extra-cozy riding experience, especially if you’re only experiencing minor saddle-fitting problems. Its breathable, cotton-polyester diamond-pattern fabric helps keep your horse cool as you ride while keeping your saddle in place; no slipping here. If you’re not sure what size pad your saddle and horse require, HORZE makes it easy to choose with an onsite measurement chart—the store recommends taking five minutes to evaluate your horse’s measurements before choosing the perfect size.
Cons: This saddle pad is especially helpful for beginning riders, so if you’re more experienced and your horse loves to jump, you may want to invest in a thicker pad down the line.
Bottom Line: With the chart to help measure and choose your saddle before purchasing, you’re bound to receive a well-tailored, beautifully constructed riding pad that allows your horse and saddle to breathe.
Weaver Leather Contoured Wool-Blend Felt Saddle Pad
A saddle pad constructed with quality, moisture-wicking materials.
Pros: Looking for a comfortable, effective way to keep sweat and dirt from affecting your horse’s health and performance? This moisture-wicking, wool-blend felt pad from Weaver Leather is a top-quality way to ensure your horse stays sore-free and your saddle stays clean while providing cushioning for superior shock absorption. Measuring 30 by 30 inches, with top-grain wear leathers and added pad spine for extra durability, this flexible pad bends and contours to horses’ shapes over time. Weaver Leather is also a leading provider for equine, livestock, pet, leather, and supply needs.
Cons: If your animal friend has high withers (where its shoulder blades meet between their neck and back) that are taller than average, this saddle pad can rub against the withers and cause discomfort.
Bottom Line: This is a quality product from a solid brand—as long as your horse’s withers aren’t a concern, this saddle pad is an excellent choice, constructed from premium materials and providing durability and absorption with its full inch of thickness.
Your happy horse will thank you for adding a durable, breathable saddle pad to help shield them from dirt, sweat, and uncomfortable friction sores. They’ll even provide comfort and shock absorption for you as you ride.