The 5 Very Best Western Saddle Pads for Your Horse


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My friends and I often discuss horse tack, and each of us has our favorite styles and brands. However, when it comes to western saddle pads, we all agree these five are the best.

These saddle pads provide the necessary support and comfort and prevent the saddle from slipping when your horses’ backs are sweaty.

Note: A friend suggested I try out his favorite saddle pad, the Toklat Premium SouthWest Western Saddle Pad. So I’m going to give it a try and I’ll update this post with my thoughts.

Saddle pads are critical not only to the comfort of your horse but also to its health. There is a lot of essential factors to consider before choosing your next saddle pad.

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How to Choose a Saddle Pad for Riding in a Western Saddle?

Many horse riders believe that saddle pads are just a mere piece of cloth that prevents the horse’s sweat from damaging the saddle. However, that’s not the case. For a long time, this ignorance caused pain to many horses and impacted their performance.

All western saddles are designed to be used with a saddle pad; they don’t provide sufficient cushioning without them. Saddle pads provide a barrier to keep sweat away from the saddle; too much moisture weakens leather causing it to break or crack.

Saddle pads help absorb shock, distribute saddle weight, and reduces friction. Saddle pads also help fit a saddle by filling empty spaces between the saddle and the horses back.

Saddles are built around a frame, the “saddle-tree,” which functions to distribute weight evenly across a horses’ back. A proper saddle pad helps spread the weight and protects sensitive areas on the horse’s topside.

Your horse’s withers shouldn’t support your saddle, and some saddle pads are designed to keep this from happening. To ensure your pad is doing its job, after riding, look at it and your horses back.

If the pad is fit correctly, you should see even distribution on moisture without any dry spots. If the horse has dry areas where the saddle pad sat, this is a problem that needs attention; these areas often become the site of saddle sores.

These are some of the reasons it’s essential to put effort into choosing the right saddle pads for your horse. Here are a few factors to consider before selecting the best saddle pad for riding in a western saddle.

Size

Size is the most critical factor to consider when buying a saddle pad. Since western saddle pads come in various sizes, choosing the right one is crucial.

The average size of the western saddle pad is 30 x 30 inches. For a small horse or a pony, it is usually 20 x 20 inches.

Shape

Square saddle pads are the most common pads. However, you’ll find other shapes as well, such as cut-out, round, and countered pads. The most affordable ones are rectangular and square pads.

For a horse with either low or average withers, rectangular and square pads are the best because they give enough support to the horse’s neck and head.

Cut-out saddles are best for horses with high withers because these horses face difficulty lengthening their strides. Some saddle pads are specially designed for high withered horses.

Round saddle pads have rounded corners that are ideal for horses with low-to-average withers and short backs. High cut saddle pads work well to prevent wrinkling and bunching.

Cleaning and Materials

Saddle pads come in different materials. However, western saddle pads are generally hard to clean. Hence, the saddle cushion fabric plays a vital role as it can impact its efficiency of giving support and removing moisture.

Fleece is commonly used to make western saddle pads because it provides adequate aeration. However, Neoprene – a rubber-like material absorbs shock effectively. It is easy to clean and enables your horse to feel cooler.

Foam pads are an ideal choice in challenging sports. When choosing saddle pads, make sure to choose one made of breathable material to protect your horse from excessive heat.

Thickness

Generally, Western saddle pads are thicker than English saddle pads. Thickness plays an essential role as it protects the horse from getting too much pressure on the back. For riding in a western saddle, longer rides need thicker pads.

Hence, consider thicker pads if the total weight (rider and gear) exceeds 200 lbs. A thicker pad is also necessary if the horse is going uphill and carrying you.

Best Western Saddle Pads

To help you narrow down your search, I’ve reviewed the three best Western Saddle Pads.

Weaver Leather Contour Pad

Best Overall

Picture of Weaver leather contour pad,

The Weaver is the most popular western saddle pad. This saddle pad is made of fleece wool. Although fleece is wool-like, it is synthetic and offers better aeration and performance. Saddle pads made of fleece are generally lighter.

This saddle pad has moisture-wicking qualities and ensures breathability as merino wool is used at the fleece bottom. The pads are made of herculon material that ensures durability and resists mildew and mold.

It is effortless to clean and dries quickly. The pad is 32″x16″ and 1-inch thick that absorbs shocks and impacts. It’s a rectangular-shaped pad that is suitable for working activities, average riding, and aggressive riding.

Highlights

  • Herculon material ensures durability for long days on the trail.
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Merino wool wicks away moisture

Overall Impression

Weaver Leather Contour Pad offers longevity and quality and is suitable for all types of horse riding activities. The Weaver is a standard saddle pad that you can count rely on.

Diamond Wool Contour Felt Ranch Pad

Best Value

Picture of diamon wool contour felt ranch pad,

The Diamond Wool Contour Felt Ranch Pad is a breathable saddle pad for people having a smaller budget. Its simplicity makes it one of the best western horse saddle pads. Diamond wool is a well-known brand known for producing high-quality wool products and saddle pads.

This saddle pad uses thick wool felt for cushioning that ensures high-level shock absorption. The thickness reduces pressure on your horse, enabling the horse to reach his full potential. Thick wool also provides breathability.

Moreover, wool has high elasticity and resilience, as it is a super-strong fiber. It easily meshes with your horse’s hair and prevents slippage. Other features include a wither relief notch, distressed leather, and contoured spine.

You won’t be disappointed if you purchase the Diamond saddle pad.

Customer Reviews: Click here to learn why other customers love the Diamond Wool Contour Felt Ranch Pad. You can also read answers to questions customers submitted.

Highlights

  • Affordable Price
  • Reduces Slippage
  • Wither Relief Features
  • High-level shock absorption

Overall Impression

The Diamond Wool Contour Felt Ranch Pad is an ideal choice for people looking for a breathable pad at an excellent price.

ECP Western Saddle Pad

Best Features

Picture of ECP western saddle pad,

If you want a saddle pad that is robust with some contour correction features, then ECP Western Saddle Pad is the best choice. The contour correction features improve the safety of your horses.

This saddle pad is made of memory foam that is super effective in absorbing shock. This foam protects your horse’s back from damage when riding, especially in barrel racing and trail rides.

The foam material used is very soft and breathable that gives moisture-wicking ability. The pads’ edges are round and smooth that can help prevent rubbing against your horse’s hindquarters and causing irritation.

Highlights

  • Memory foam to adjust to the horse’s shape
  • Moisture-wicking ability
  • Highly shock absorbent
  • Rounded pad suitable for short horses

Overall Impression

The ECP Western Saddle Pad has excellent features to protect your horse from any damage and irritation.

Customer Reviews: Click here to find out what 80% of users who have given five stars have to say about ECP Western Saddle Pad. I find it beneficial to get information from as many sources as possible before spending my money, and Amazon customer reviews are an excellent resource for this.

Conclusion

No matter what type of horse riding activity you choose to do, having a good saddle pad for your horse is imperative. Your horse can perform well only when it is comfortable.

FAQ

What’s the difference between a saddle pad and saddle blanket.

The terms saddle pads and saddle blankets are often used interchangeably by western horse riders, but technically there is a difference. Saddle pads are thick padding between the saddle and horses back that absorbs shock a protects its back.
Saddle blankets are lightweight cloths used for decoration typically placed over the saddle pad. They add color and are easy to wash. A saddle blanket is used in combination with a pad, but you can use a saddle pad by itself.

Can you ride without a saddle pad?

Most saddles are built with padding and if it fits your horse it can be used without a pad, but it’s not advisable. A proper pad helps distribute weight, protects sensitive areas, and absorbs shock better than a saddle alone.

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Miles Henry

I love animals! Especially horses, I've been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others. I have bought, sold, and broke racehorse yearlings. I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn't make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines. Miles Henry

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