Choosing a saddle pad today is almost as complicated as buying a saddle as there are so many different models! Shape, cut, color, material… Difficult to navigate with such a vast choice! Here is a short guide specially designed to help you choose the right saddle pad.
A saddle pad, what is it for?
But first of all, let’s see what a saddle pad is for? To protect the horse’s back? Fake ! To compensate for an ill-fitting saddle? Still wrong! Yes, the saddle pad has only one purpose: to protect the saddle from the horse’s sweat. That’s all !
You can’t solve the problem of an ill-fitting saddle with a carpet: if it doesn’t suit your horse, it’s the saddle that needs to be changed (or have it adapted), not the carpet! No need to tell you what I think of shock absorbers, you will have understood it.
This point having been clarified, let’s now see how to choose the right Lemieux saddle pad:
The line of the back
The first thing to consider is the cut of the mat: namely the line of the back. We will choose a straight cut for a horse without withers and an open cut for a horse with a prominent withers. Why ? Quite simply so as not to exert unnecessary pressure on the horse’s back!
Those located on the strap keep the mat in place and therefore prevent it from moving forward or backward during the session. Most carpets have it.
Some mats also have loops near the withers, which scratch at the counter-girths. The purpose of these passers-by is to keep the mat well cleared throughout the session… Provided that they are correctly positioned! They must indeed be located about 15 cm from the vertebral seam, just under the beginning of the quarter. You must also pay attention that the tension is identical on both sides.
There are two main rug shapes: the saddle pad, which is almost rectangular in appearance, and the saddle rug. There are also intermediate shapes, with a more “designer” look. The shape does not matter, choose according to your tastes! If you opt for a saddle-shaped pad, simply remember to take the measurements of your saddle before any purchase, to be sure that no part of the saddle will be in direct contact with the horse’s skin.
Saddle pad material
The material of the rug should also be an important criterion when making your purchase: it is in particular what determines the price of the rug of course, but also the comfort for the horse or the maintenance required. Let’s see the most common materials:
Cotton saddle pad
Cotton is very interesting because it is hypoallergenic and easy to maintain since it goes in the washing machine. However, it has the disadvantage of being very absorbent: it quickly soaks up the horse’s sweat (or rain), but humidity does not go well with leather saddles! If you have a synthetic saddle or your horse sweats little, you can opt for this material. Otherwise, we do not recommend it!
Genuine sheepskin saddle pad
And I insist on the “genuine”! These rugs are hypoallergenic, breathable and deemed comfortable for the horse. They are quite thick which allows you to add a “damping” function to the pad, which can be useful in some cases and totally harmful in others: if your saddle is a bit tight for your horse, this type of pad will be too thick and could create pressure points.
Finally, genuine sheepskin saddle pads are more difficult to maintain (they must be brushed after each use and cleaned by hand with a suitable detergent) and more expensive than cotton pads.