A single glance into any equine catalog will reveal a myriad of saddle pad choices. With different materials, different shapes and different claims to fame, it can be difficult to decide what one will best suit your saddle.
Each material has its benefits and drawbacks. Here is a short list of the attributes of the most popular pads:
One of the most common materials used today, fleece pads can be either double backed, or fleece bottomed, and may be synthetic or wool. Natural fleece provides more cushioning, but synthetic fleece is longer lasting and easier to care for.
The hallmark property of felt saddle pads is the material’s ability to draw sweat from the horse, which allows heat to dissipate. It is also a great shock absorber, and helps to relieve minor pressure points.
Waterproof and easy to clean, Neoprene pads usually feature a waffle-weave bottom which promotes airflow and breathability. They also provide good cushioning and reduce saddle slippage.
Foam distributes weight and absorbs shock. Additionally, it also molds to the horse’s back, creating customized comfort. They do not have any wicking abilities.
With features of both a solid and a liquid, gel will disburse impacts and will always return to its original shape. Heavier in weight and more expensive than foam, they are a good choice for riders who work multiple horses, since they do not conform to the back.