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Dressage saddles pads perform two purposes -they provide comfort and protection to your horse and give a well-polished look in competitions and dressage events. Typically a dressage saddle comes with a deep seat, long stirrups, and an extended flap.
The best dressage saddle pads are the Engel Worldwide, the ECP Air Ride, and the Back on Track saddle pad. There are many dressage saddle pads on the market, but I found these three to be the best for the price, design, quality, and availability.
I am always on the lookout for new equipment. My friend with years of experience in dressage recommended I take a look at the WeatherBeeta Prime Dressage Saddle Pad. I’ve taken her advice on products in the past, and there’s no doubt that she knows what she is talking about.
Choosing the right tack for dressage is critical, and this includes the saddle pad, although not easy, especially because most models look basically the same. Still, there are subtle but vital differences you need to know.
How to Choose a Dressage Saddle Pad?
Dressage is a sport that requires a horse and rider to work together to perform a series of movements. Judges score the team, so not only is it essential to have tack that helps your horse perform well, but it should also be aesthetically pleasing.
Dressage saddle pads are meant to ensure your horse is comfortable while allowing them to move without restriction. It is also a way to boost the overall appearance of your horse.
Here are a few factors to consider before buying a dressage saddle pad.
It is very important to pick the right saddle pad material for your horse. You should consider many factors when doing so, such as breathability and durability of the fabric, moisture absorption, and ease of care.
The most commonly used materials saddle pads are made from are cotton, wool, and synthetic fleece. Some synthetic fiber absorbs moisture well and provides adequate protection for the horse’s back but doesn’t typically allow for airflow and is more challenging to clean than cotton or wool.
Cotton and wool pads protect horses’ backs and absorb moisture. However, wool is the best moisture-wicking material and provides better cooling than either cotton or pads made of synthetic material.
Another advantage of wool is that it’s easier to clean; the downside is that wool is expensive. However, manufacturers develop advanced saddle pad material that is easier to handle, clean, and more proficient each season.
The saddle pad should properly fit the contours of the horse’s back. Both the saddle and pad must complement each other to provide the best comfort possible to your horse.
The pad should fit on the whithers but not too far up on the horse’s neck, and the saddle shouldn’t rest on your horses’ withers. If a saddle rubs against your horse or doesn’t fit properly, it can result in soreness in the horse’s back.
Sometimes an ill-fitting saddle can be righted with a well-fitted saddle pad. If you’re not sure if it’s the pad or the saddle creating the soreness in your horse, consult a professional. Trainers and saddle fitting experts can help you ensure you get the most from your horse.
When trainers speak about a saddle’s fit, they often compare it to how a shoe fits our feet. This is a valid analogy for saddles, and another fair comparison is to think of the pad as your sock.
Socks too small or tight are uncomfortable, and ones that are too large often slip and bundle under our feet. A properly fitting pair of shoes with appropriate socks is much more desirable. The same can be said for a saddle and pad.
If you expect to get the best from your dressage horse, ensure you provide a proper saddle and pad for your animal. Typically dressage pads are white or black and square-shaped.
Most are quilted and designed to extend about two inches beyond the edges of the saddle. I prefer dressage pads made for high-withered horses, even if my horse doesn’t have high withers.
The thickness of the dressage pad depends on your horse, the saddle, and the time of the year. But always remember your goal is to provide the best-fit combination of saddle and pad.
When your horse is slicked out in the summer, it needs more padding to obtain an ideal fit than in the winter when horses typically grow more hair, even if kept in a stall.
Some horses are sensitive and ride better with more padding than other horses. Horses are individuals, and there is no one size fits all. The goal is to fit your horse to protect it and allow it to perform.
3 Best Dressage Saddle Pads
To help you find the best one, I’ve reviewed some popular dressage saddle pads and found these three to be the best.
You get what you pay for, and this is why Engel sheepskin saddle pads are more expensive. Sheepskin is an excellent material because it moisturizes a horse’s skin while also preventing excessive moisture buildup.
Plus, sheepskin protects the horse’s withers from rubbing and doesn’t make folds or wrinkles under the saddle. And sheepskin is known for naturally promoting circulation that reduces your horse’s pressure spots, minimizes irritation, and promotes healing.
This saddle pad is lined with 100% Merino Australian sheepskin that ensures protection and supreme comfort. Engel’s sheepskin saddle pads securely conform to your horse’s top-line for a natural shape that vents and absorbs shock and wicks away dust and moisture.
Natural sheepskin is a breathable material that deters bacteria, dirt, and mold. Plus, this natural padding ensures a healthy and clean environment over the life of the saddle pad. It distributes weight evenly and ensures there is no extra pressure on your horse’s joints and spine.
If you want the best saddle pad for your horse, then the Engel saddle pad is the choice for you.
- 100% Merino Australian sheepskin
- Breathable material
- Promotes healing
The Engel Dressage Sheepskin Lined Contoured Saddle Pad with Full Rolled Edge is the best option for every dressage rider; it provides comfort, protection, and security.
ECP Air Ride Equestrian Pad is one of the best dressage saddle pads I’ve come across. This saddle pad provides all features like breathability, shock-absorbent, and lightweight. Moreover, it has small ventilation holes, which are very comfortable and prevent excess sweating.
This saddle pad offers a ventilated back area that prevents overheating. Its mesh openings ensure a soothing relief to your horse’s back. The best feature of this saddle pad is that it is made of recyclable and earth-friendly materials.
The material is well-ventilated, facilitating a convection process that circulates air over your horse’s back. This process helps regulate your horse’s body temperature and soothes uncomfortable areas of your horse’s back.
TPE foam is used as the construction material of this saddle pad. This pad is a non-slip pad that adjusts to the contour of the horse’s back. The ability to adapt to contours ensures the saddle is in place and restores its original shape.
- Ventilation Holes
- TPE foam
- Non-slip pads
- Recyclable and earth-friendly materials
- Lightweight and shock absorbent
The Back on Track Dressage Pad should be your pick if you want eye-catching looks and high-quality material. The pad is square-shaped with a very stylish design.
The most exciting feature of this pad is that it comes with a ceramic-infused fabric. The ceramic infused material facilitates a cooling process that enables your horse’s back muscles to loosen up and relax.
Your horse will definitely have an enjoyable experience, especially if they have a cold or a sore back. Many users have noticed improvements the first time they have used it. This pad is contoured along the topline, enduring better comfort and fit.
To keep the saddle pad securely in place, it comes with a hook, loop billet straps, and girth loops. Moreover, it is incredibly durable. Its stylish design is adored by users and is excellent for dressage riding.
- Stylish design
- Breathable lining
- Ceramic infused fabric
- Hook and loop billet straps and girth loops
The Back on Track Dressage Pad is stylish, durable, comfortable with excellent cooling properties. A perfect dressage saddle pad for dressage competitions.
It’s essential to get your horse a saddle pad that lets them breathe easy and is comfortable during competitions and longer rides. The best dressage saddle pad will provide you and your horse ultra-comfort and optimal support.
Can you use a dressage pad with an all-purpose saddle?
Different saddle pads are designed for different riding disciplines. A pad made for an all-purpose saddle will not fit well under a dressage saddle, but any English discipline besides dressage typically allows the use of shaped patterns instead.
What is the difference between a dressage saddle pad and a jumping saddle pad?
The shape of the saddle pad is different between dressage and jumping. Regardless, the materials in these pads do not differ from one another; they are just shaped differently so as to best accommodate your saddle and activity.