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can be made from various materials, come in various sizes, and have a range of colors and patterns. There’s a large market out there, but not all are worthy of their price point. In this guide, I will discuss all the benefits of a before explaining how to find the perfect one and finishing up with my chosen seven for you to consider.
Many believe the to be one of the most important pieces of equipment, and it can certainly make the overall experience more pleasurable for the and owner. But, do you want or even need one? Let’s find out!
My Bottom Line Up Front:
The Saxon Element Quilted AP is an excellent choice for those who want a standard that won’t break the bank. A contoured back, girth loops, and keepers are included with this . There aren’t many color options, but the selection available will work for everyday use.
At a Glance: 7
- Saxon Element Quilted AP – #1 Top Pick
- TuffRider Basic All – #1 Top Budget Pick
- ECP All Purpose Contoured
- Derby Originals Shaped
- Professional Equine English Contoured
- St. Charles Quilted
- Intrepid International Shaped Double Back
As the name suggests, a is a ‘‘ that sits underneath the . There are various kinds of and many shapes tailored to different types of saddles. However, all will serve the same purposes. The key is ensuring you have the proper when purchasing.
- To provide extra security for the and prevent it from rocking or slipping.
- To reduce pressure on the ‘s back and decrease the risk of skin irritations.
- Help prolong the longevity of the .
- Those made from moisture-wicking material reduce moisture and cool the horses’ back.
How to Use an
Proper placement is essential. I liken it to wearing jeans; if they’re twisted, not fastened properly, or just don’t fit right, they’re infuriatingly uncomfortable. The same can be said for your and its . I always ensure the ‘s withers are well covered; for me, the longer the and the more product under the , the better. Opt for more padding at the front as pads and saddles will always slip backward, not forward.
with clips and fastenings should provide much more stability, but additional fastenings aren’t always necessary with correct sizing and fitting.
How to Wash an
Of all the available, I believe are the easiest to clean. This is because their traditional fleece or cotton quilting materials can either be washed by hand or thrown in the washing machine. However, if you wash your in a washing machine, ensure that you use cool water and avoid using a heat cycle in the tumble dryer, as this can change the shape of the irreparably.
For with moisture-wicking materials, you should always line dry after washing, as even a low heat tumble dry can damage this type of .
Buying the Right
Like all equestrian items, there are many things to consider when buying an . Although not the most expensive item in your tack room, it is one that, if not right, could cause harm to the and be unsafe for the rider. Additionally, who wants to waste money on a product not fit for purpose?
While there are many factors to take into account, here are what I believe to be the most important:
There are two classic materials used in and these are natural and synthetic. Sometimes, you will find a mixture of textiles to result in a lower price. The main things to keep in mind are moisture control and breathability. While some materials will be extremely comfortable for a , they may not be so effective at keeping the animal cool.
- Full : Almost square in shape, full pads can be simple in design or have a more tailored look. Higher quality options may be thickly quilted or have or gel centers. You will find various materials, such as neoprene, cotton, or quilted faux suede. Full pads aren’t the best choice if the primary need is to cool a due to their large size.
- : The most traditional are shaped pads, which will follow the saddle’s shape. Like , you will find many different material choices, and most will come with loops to attach to the billet straps or D-ring for additional stability.
- : Increasingly popular over recent years, are a top choice for the show jumping ring. These pads only cover a small section of the ‘s back. Still, they can be exceptionally comfortable and feature thicker material than most, with added gel or centers for shock absorbency.
- Riser : Rider pads lift the back of the to provide a better balance for the rider. Additionally, riser pads can even out the pressure for the and reduce shock. A common material is synthetic .
Key Features of an
have to be comfortable for the , and there are two key attributes to maintaining the :
- Moisture control
If an doesn’t have a means of airflow, heat will become trapped under the , which can result in sores and skin irritation for the and slippage of the , which can be dangerous for the rider. Moisture needs to be absorbed by the and then able to evaporate, commonly known as wicking.
How thick an is also something to look for, as a thin under an ill-fitting will not reduce discomfort or even increase it. Conversely, a that’s too thick can put too much pressure on the spine and spinal nerves.
Other features can include:
- Reinforced girth area to enhance the longevity of the .
- D Rings to provide additional stability.
- Reflective strips are ideal for moonlit and nighttime rides when extra visibility is a benefit.
My Product Criteria
I wanted to cater to every reader with this guide, so as well as my usual product criteria, I have looked at other preferences, such as colors, patterns, and materials. Here are the things on my checklist:
The price point for varies between $20 to $200, and I wanted to include pads within most people’s budgets. However, I didn’t want budget picks and low-cost pads simply because they were inexpensive. On the other hand, I didn’t want to choose expensive pads just because they were pricey.
While you will find some diversity in price in this guide to meet most budgets, I believe all of the have justifiable price points.
I have looked at different types of materials so riders with different preferences will find something to their liking. I have strived to ensure that these materials will be comfortable, moisture-wicking, breathable, and durable.
I have used consumer feedback as a benchmark for the I reviewed. If the consensus wasn’t good, I didn’t research the any further!
My Chosen 7
#1 Saxon Element Quilted AP– #1 Top Pick
The Saxon Element Quilted AP is a full-sized is extremely well made, especially given its affordable price point. with dimensions 26-in x 19.5-in x 0.5-in. I found the quality of the fabric to be high and think this
The durability of the is weatherproof and quick to hang dry; I believe it to be very easy to care for. There are three color options, all of the same quilted design. feels average, and the look is conventional. The
This includes a contoured back, touch tape straps, and girth loops.
- Good Value for Money
- Comfortable Quilting
- Secure Fitting
- Limited Reviews
- Not Many Color Options
#2 TuffRider Basic All– #1 Top Budget Pick
The TuffRider Basic All is a highly affordable option that could be an excellent choice for new riders. This all- is suitable for English saddles and comes in a variety of colors (17 in total), so you can be sure to find one to suit your preferences.
The diamond quilting feels relatively thick and is soft. Overall, the aesthetics are pleasing, but the is a little on the large side. The flannel underside helps keep horses cool and is a good choice for a moisture-wicking, durable material.
The TuffRider Basic is machine washable but will show signs of this over time. Some consumers don’t like the larger-than-average size, but this hasn’t been an issue for others. For the price, there are very few complaints.
- Plenty of Color Choices
- Flannel Underside
- Contoured Back
- Machine Washable
- Extraordinary Value for Money
- Larger Than Most
#3 ECP All Purpose Contoured
The ECP All Purpose Contoured is a little expensive. Still, I believe it is worth its price point when things such as craftsmanship, brand reputation, durability, and consumer feedback have been considered. This is highly rated for English saddles and has excellent longevity.
I found the sleek shape to result in a streamlined look, and although the is thick, it isn’t bulky, so perfect for competitive . There are four memory stuffed pockets to eliminate pressure points, and these inserts can be moved to different pockets where additional support may be needed.
There are nine colors to choose from, and the dimensions of 22-in by 19.5-in makes the suitable for most breeds, from Arabians to Thoroughbreds! The ECP is in Amazon’s top 10 for equestrian and comes with free delivery if purchased there. However, I urge you to act fast as stocks are currently low!
- Excellent Quality
- Great Color Choices
- Good Longevity
- Quite Expensive
- Some Mentions of Gel Inserts Being Hard
#4 Derby Originals Shaped
I believe the Derby Originals Shaped to be a solid choice for those looking for as a primary factor. The Derby Originals is shaped to fit English saddles and features a plush fleece lining to prevent rubbing and sores. The micro-diamond quilt is multi-layered and is super comfortable for horses and riders.
The dimensions are 23-in by 23-in, and the was designed in the USA and made from high-grade cotton and fleece with reinforced stitching for added longevity and strength. Although super plush, this only weighs 0.84 kg which is another great advantage for the .
Some consumers have found this too long, which doesn’t affect the use at all but may impact the aesthetics.
- Plush Fleece Lining
- Multi-Layered Quilt
- High-Grade Materials
- Too Long For Some
#5 Professional Equine English Contoured
Whatever color of you have, the Professional Equine English Contoured will have an option that’ll look simply beautiful against the coat. Consumers have particularly noted the purple looks stunning against chestnut horses.
I found the size pretty perfect, with a fine balance struck between thick and thin for supreme . This is a classic square , with dimensions of 23-in by 20-in, and it features a highly effective moisture-wicking quilting. I like the rolled trim finish and think this adds to the overall aesthetics.
Additional stability is reached due to the included billet straps.
- Beautiful Colors
- Stunning Aesthetics
- Included Billet Straps
- Limited Stock
#6 St. Charles Quilted
Whether writing about rope halters or , I always like to find something that’s a little fancy, and the St. Charles Quilted can be described this way! The fluff trim around the front and back of the is unique – I’ve found nothing else like it – and finishes the so elegantly that any fashion-conscious would be proud!
I found the St. Charles to be very comfortable, with just the right amount of fleece to keep you feeling connected to the and prevent skin irritation or soreness. The velcro keepers and girth loops are effective at keeping the in place, but Velcro can be impacted by weather conditions more than other fasteners, so I would deduct a point for this.
The fleece is washable and lined underneath for added . It weighs just 15.84 ounces and comes in an assortment of different colors.
- Fashionable and Fancy
- Perfect Amount of Fleece
- Secure Fastening
- Nice Color Choices
- Switching from Velcro Would be an Upgrade, in my opinion.
#7 Intrepid International Shaped Double Back
The Intrepid International Shaped Double Back is a super thick , with some consumers citing it as the thickest of any they’ve ever used. It is exceptionally well made, although not in the US. I believe it to have great longevity, and it is extremely durable.
You can select black or white, but the white option will get dirty easily. However, this is a machine-washable that is quick to dry. Free delivery is available, but there is a fairly long shipping time of over a week.
- Exceptionally Well Made
- Very Durable
- Extremely Padded
- Machine Washable
- Free Delivery
- Not American Made
- 2 Color Options
- Long Shipping Time
Answer: Before attempting to use a saddle pad, it’s important to ensure that your horse is properly groomed; this will remove dirt, debris, and loose hair and calm your horse before saddling. The front of the pad should be positioned onto the withers, with the remaining material going toward the hindquarters.
Place down your English saddle and attach the billet straps and keepers from the pad to the saddle – if applicable – for extra stability.
Answer: Most saddle pads today are machine washable, but this isn’t across the board, so it’s important always to read the manufacturer’s care instructions. Pads need regular washing as they build up sweat and dirt rapidly.
I would always use a brush on the inside of the pad to get rid of excess hair and dirt, then follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer, as these can differ from machine wash to hand wash and wipe clean only.
Answer: Saddle pads are not considered essential. However, it is hard to argue with their benefits. For rider and horse, saddle pads offer greater safety and comfort, so why wouldn’t you want that?
You can also check out my article on Best English Saddle Girths. While saddle pads are essential for your horse, girths help keep everything in place and ensure saddle fit and comfort for your horse.
In Summary: My Top English Saddle Pads Picks You’ll Love
I believe all seven of the pads I have reviewed to be fit for your consideration, although some are more effective and shine in different areas than others. Some are likely to appeal more based on your preferences, needs, and budgets.
My personal favorites are the Saxon Element Quilted AP Saddle Pad and the ECP Equine Comfort Products All Purpose Contoured Saddle Pad. They’re both very well designed, durable, and have great comfort levels for horses and riders.
My top budget pick is the TuffRider Basic All Purpose Saddle Pad, and it is hard to dispute this value for money. Don’t forget to find some great saddle accessories as well! Check out our Best Horse Blanket guide to find the best blanket for your horse!