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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Western Saddle Pad For Your Horse

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Western Saddle Pad For Your Horse

In order to protect both your horse and saddle, a proper saddle pad is a must. Besides looking good, the best saddle pad can protect your horse's back and help preserve your saddle for years to come. However, there are some things to keep in mind when choosing your new saddle pad. This guide will share tips and considerations for selecting the best Western saddle pad.

Styles of Saddle Pads

There are three main types of saddle pads: woven Navajo style blanket, felt, and neoprene pads. Besides aesthetics, they offer different levels of comfort and protection. Material and shape primarily distinguish them.

Saddle Pad Basics

There is no best saddle pad material — instead, you should make your choice based on the type of riding you will be doing and the conformation of your horse. Neoprene offers impressive shock absorption but poor breathability, so while it's excellent for roping, it's not a good choice for long rides. Felt is usually thick, so it offers a lot of cushion. Felt saddle pads are an excellent all-around choice for moisture absorption and breathability, so they are preferred by many riders.

Saddle pads can be shaped or square. A Western saddle blanket is a square, woven, blanket-style pad that comes in many colors and is highly durable. However, wool saddle blankets can also bunch up and don't offer as much protection as other styles. Contoured pads follow the contours of the animal's body and can have additional structure built-in.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Western Saddle Pad For Your Horse

How To Measure A Saddle Pad

To get the best saddle pad fit, take two measurements:

  • Length: Measure from front to back at the longest points.
  • Drop: Measure from one side, across the withers, and down the other side.

There should be at least two inches of pad visible around the perimeter of the saddle. This allows for the shifting of the saddle when riding.

See our saddle pad fitting guide for more information, including how to accommodate your horse's conformation when fitting a saddle pad.

Choose the Best Western Saddle Pad for Your Riding Style

Just like a saddle, your saddle pad choice should be based on the type of riding you'll be doing. The thickness you need depends on the amount of time spent in the saddle and the rider's weight. Let's take a look at the best saddle pad recommendations based on different types of riding.

Best Saddle Pad
for Trail Riding

Stamina is key for trail riding, so you want to make sure that the saddle pad reduces pressure and provides superior cushioning. The best Western saddle pad for trail riding is a breathable pad that helps to dissipate the sweat and prevent a sore back.

Best Saddle Pad
for Barrel Racing

Speed is king in barrel racing; therefore, you want to make sure your saddle pad won't weigh down your horse or get in his way. The best saddle pad for barrel is between 28-30" long, 3/4" - 7/8" thick and made of compressed wool felt.

Best Saddle Pad
for Endurance Riding

Endurance riders spend A LOT of time in the saddle, so their comfort, and that of their animal, is critical. The best saddle pad for endurance riding has superior wicking to disperse heat and moisture, and it protects pressure points. Plus, it must be easy to keep clean.

Best Saddle Pad
for Roping

Roping is hard work, so your horse is going to need more protection. Choose a pad that is at least one inch thick. The best saddle pad for team roping offers exceptional wicking and premium features like gel.

Best Saddle Pad
for a Treeless Saddle

Pads are absolutely essential when using a treeless saddle because the saddle doesn't provide the structure needed to protect the horse's spine. The best saddle pad for treeless saddles combines powerful shock-absorption and support. Many include foam inserts in the panels to create lift.

Choosing the Best Western Saddle Pad for Special Requirements

Some horses need special attention when fitting them for a saddle pad due to their breed, physical condition or age. Always take these factors into consideration when choosing a saddle pad for the best fit and most comfortable ride.

Best Saddle Pad
for an Older Horse

Older horses get aches and pains and lose muscle as they age, just as we do, and require additional support around their back and withers when riding. Orthopedic saddle pads or those with built-in wedges to fill the voids are the best saddle pads for older horses.

Best Saddle Pad
for a Gaited Horse

With a gaited horse, it's important not to restrict their movement. Some saddle pads are explicitly marketed for gaited horses, but the best saddle pad for gaited horses is one that fits well and accommodates their unique stride. Make sure your saddle pad is flexible at the withers, or look for pads with cutouts to give them the room they need.

Find the Best Western Saddle Pad Selection at NRS

No matter what type of riding you do, we have the best saddle pad styles for all your needs. For the ultimate comfort, protection and durability, choose National Roper's Supply for the best selection of Western tack at unbeatable prices.

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