Equestrian Shop Online » Gear » How to Pick the Best Saddle Pads – The COMPLETE Guide

How to Pick the Best Saddle Pads – The COMPLETE Guide

the Best Saddle Pad Concept

I’m lucky enough to get asked on trail rides to a particular fairly spectacular spot now that I live in Montana instead of the flatland (Heartland is more accurate). I know much better than to attempt a mountain climb without first confirming that my kit is capable of withstanding the rigors of trail riding.

A quality saddle pad, such as this Diamond Wood Contour, is among the most vital items of trail equipment. Trail riding may be physically hard, especially for your horse, depending on the terrain and weather. Your horse will keep nice and comfortable on the journey with the correct pad.

First, What Exactly are Saddle Pads?

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Saddle pads, like saddlecloths and numnahs, are a form of saddle cloth. Between the horse’s back and the saddle, the saddle pad is normally rectangular. It absorbs the perspiration of the horse and thereby preserves the saddle and the horse’s back. Aside from its primary use, the saddle cloth also functions as a decorative item for the horse. Because it is bigger than the saddle, it will stand out and may be adorned with embroidered names or club symbols for extra elegance.

The saddle pad should be breathable, absorb perspiration properly, serve as a damper between the saddle and the horseback, and be simple to clean in order to perform its role best. Cotton, a blend of cotton and synthetic fibres, lambskin, polyamide, and polyester are all used to make saddle pads. Each of these materials has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. You’re unlikely to discover a saddle pad that checks all of the criteria. When purchasing a saddle pad, you must first choose which feature is most essential to you.

What to Look for in a Trail Riding Saddle Pad

If you think reading a topographical map or cramming (almost) everything you possess into two small saddlebags is difficult, just wait till you try to choose the nicest saddle pad amid the crowd. I produced this essay to save you time and sanity since I’ve been in your shoes.

The saddle pad’s goal is to decrease friction between your saddle and the horse’s back, offer cushion for both horse and rider, alleviate pressure spots, reduce slipping/shifting/rolling, and equally distribute weight. Here’s the full definition

Now that we know what a saddle pad is, let’s get this party started and choose the best saddle pad.

How to Pick the Right Saddle Pad

Horseback riding with the right saddle pad


We’ve found that adding an extra 2″-3″ to the length of your saddle is a good rule of thumb. You risk slipping over your pad on uneven terrain if you use less. Any longer, you’ll have to cope with a cumbersome saddle pad. A well-fitting pad vs. an enormous pad are seen in the photographs to the right.

Quality of material

The pad with a fleece bottom is one of the most typical saddle pads. The fleece is usually synthetic, although it can also be wool or sheep fleece. This is a silky fabric that may also be found under many saddles. Wool flannel provides a little more cushion than synthetic fleece, but it does not last as long as synthesized fleece and is more likely to become matted and compressed.

Chemicals in the horse’s perspiration tear down real fleece, and if the fleece is not properly cared for, it will break down and become unstable. The fleece saddle pad is the most affordable saddle pad.


Dressage saddles, jumping saddles, and even general purpose or trail riding saddle cushions are all different. So choose one based on the goal you have in mind.

Dimensions and form

A basic saddle pad is 30 by 30 inches, but for bigger western saddles, a lengthier pad of 32 x 32 inches would be preferable.

Choose a 20 x 20-inch size for ponies or small horses. Depending on the saddle, you may pick from square, round, contoured, cut-back, or other forms.

The key point is that the saddle pad should not get in the way of the saddle.

Check out the sizing chart for Western saddle pads.


When choosing a saddle pad, extra comfort is crucial. Choose a material that will absorb moisture while keeping your horse cool.

A sufficient amount of padding should be included in the pad to cushion your seat bones. It should not, however, cause the saddle to slide or shift while riding.


Woman riding a horse on a saddle pad

What is the ideal thickness for a western saddle pad?

A western pad should be 7/8th to 1-inch thick at the very least.

How frequently should your pad be replaced?

A decent pad should last at least 2-3 years if you just ride on weekends. If you ride every day, the pad should be replaced every 6-12 months, depending on wear, material, and other factors.

What is the greatest kind of saddle pad?

A wool fleece saddle pad is the most effective product for reducing horse stress. Between the horse, saddle, and rider, a thick layer of cushioning is provided by wool fleece alone or in combination with closed-cell foam or gel foam. As a consequence, the horse is less inflamed and recovers faster.

What is the ideal saddle pad thickness?

7/8″ Thick Pad – For trail riding, team penning, cutting, reining, and barrel racing, this is the greatest all-around saddle pad.

What factors should I consider while purchasing a saddle pad?

The most important thing is selecting the correct size.

Make sure the pad you choose is compatible with the saddle you’re using. Pads are often designed to fit a variety of saddle styles.

Dressage pads will have a straighter cut and will accommodate a longer flap, while a close contact pad will have a forward cut and shorter length.


When it comes to saddle padding, common sense must win out. Remember, if the “shoe doesn’t fit,” it won’t fit with a bunch of socks, either. If the saddle does not fit properly, no amount of padding will help. In reality, more padding may often relocate the issue elsewhere or cause more cinching and soreness. It’s also worth noting that, with the right bespoke saddle, thinner cushioning may be the solution.

High-quality wool felt materials are the best chance over the long run, whether or without a proper saddle fit. If you simply plan to ride for 30-45 minutes with little action, foam, tacky, or neoprene material will likely do no damage, but it will be highly unpleasant for the animal.

The bottom line is that something is not adding up when you spend $5000 on a horse, $3000 on a saddle, and $60 on a pad. Why do you believe the material would be beneficial for kids if you wouldn’t wear it on a hot or cold day?