A well-fitting saddle is essential for a rider but to achieve this, many use saddle pads and other aids. However, you should know how to properly use a saddle pad and choose a pad that conforms properly to the horse’s back along with a saddle.
It is best to fit the saddle and the saddle pad at the same time so that you can get the best fit. Or using a saddle pad can actually affect your fit on a good saddle negatively. It’s a little similar to choosing the right socks to wear with the right shoe. Not everyone uses saddle pads if they feel as if the saddle fits them perfectly. However, when it comes to competitive equestrian sports, having a saddle pad is a good idea as the same saddle will be used with several horses and the chances of it fitting to the horse’s back perfectly will be low. The reason that people use saddle pads for horses is that it can increase the contact area of the saddle and this contributes to an even distribution of pressure. But this will also depend on the type of saddle pad you choose. You have to consider the breathability of the pad so that it doesn’t allow the heat to concentrate in one area. This is the downside with gel pads as they have low breathability and they tend to avoid pressure points as well. You can choose the latest versions of gel pads that have a higher range of breathability that allows it to absorb pressure better.
A popular saddle pad material is memory form due to their breathability. They can also absorb sweat so you can easily use them continuously. If you are looking for something natural, you can consider lambskin pads. This adds a certain aesthetic element to the saddle as well and you can be fashionable as well as comfortable when you are riding. They are generally used when horses have lost considerable muscle tone given its extra padding. You can also try to experiment with choosing a saddle along with the pad so it makes for a better fit. Lambskin is breathable and absorbs sweat well. It will also distribute pressure properly. If you are a beginner at riding and you don’t have a good seat, this is a good option to consider.
Many saddle pads aim to free the pressure on the horse’s spine. However, you have to be careful when selecting synthetic saddle pads as they can heat up faster compared to natural materials and contribute to inflammation. Synthetic lambskin is available but it will not be good at wicking away moisture or dissipating heat. You can consider natural rubber as a good material for a saddle pad. However, it has low points when it comes to breathability. If you are looking for something closer to sheepskin, you can consider a felt saddle pad but you have to know they require a lot more maintenance and care compared to other options.