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Last updated: February 28, 2022
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You might think a saddle pad is unnecessary or an added extra, but ask any rider who is using one and they will probably tell you that they make a huge difference to comfort and in some cases even make it easier to ride your horse. In this article we’re exploring the best saddle pad models and showing you the top options currently on the market. Are you confused by all the different options and wondering the difference between the materials and other design aspects? Our guide is designed to help.
We’ve reviewed some incredible models and also provided lots of information about how saddle pads can help. We have a number of saddle pad reviews and we have based these around the size, weight and comfort of the pad as well as the composition and materials it is made out of. There are a surprising amount of different designs so it helps to know what you are dealing with!
This saddle pad is great for all people and all horses, but it specifically has a lot to like when it comes to the design if you are using this with older horses. It is designed to distribute your weight evenly and leave the horse more comfortable. It is good for horses with a low back or high withers.
The gel design is smart, and though a lot of newer saddle pads are opting to use gel in their design, this one has a fantastic, no-maintenance design.
Over 100 gel holes are designed to prevent a lot of sweating and discomfort and can stop skin sores from occurring.
This is relatively lightweight considering the composition, at just 2.3 lbs. A lot of riders absolutely swear by the gel design for their comfort and their horse’s! The best gel saddle pad we’ve come across.
What makes it stand out?
Distributes weight evenly.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Can get damaged in extreme heat. Be careful in hot climates.
The ECP All Purpose Diamond Quilted Cotton English Half Saddle Pad has made it into the list as the best value product. It is very affordable for what it is, and though it doesn’t have fancy gels in the design it is still very good at distributing weight. The memory foam pockets make this arguably the best saddle pad for endurance riding, especially if you are on a budget.
It only weighs 1 lb so it is easy to transport around and put on your horse.
The four pockets also allow you to make little changes and adjustments until you have the perfect fit for you and your horse, ready for trail riding or other uses.
It is a great product for the price and even comes in many different designs for you to choose between.
What stands out?
Great value for money.
What cons did we manage to find?
It can be hard to get replacement foam pads when these run out.
This is our budget pick option, and it still does a pretty respectable job. It certainly isn’t as amazing as some of the other, more expensive options. It doesn’t have specific gel functions and it isn’t the best saddle pad for high withered horse, but if you are looking for something affordable for a horse and rider who aren’t fussy then this could be a good option.
The pad comes in lots of different colors and designs and it is extremely lightweight. The manufacturers claim it is fine for practice and competitive use, while this may not be the best dressage saddle pad it is certainly a fairly good option for some competitive horse events and if you don’t want to spend a lot on a pad this small and subtle option could be ideal.
Why are we impressed?
What negatives must you be aware of?
No memory foam or gel to help with weight distribution.
Not built to last as many years as some other options.
Composition: 5mm poly foam with 250 gram poly fill
Size: 23 x 18 inches
Weight: 4 oz
Are you looking for a simple yet effective, affordable, quilted saddle pad? This could be the best saddle pad for you if you are in the market for affordable polyester designs. It has a poly fill of 250 gram and a 5mm poly foam material to give padding. The brand, Dover Saddlery, has a rich history making these kinds of products having been around for over 40 years.
The quilted diamond pattern is good for padding, if not as good as some gel or memory foam materials. It looks great, and there are a number of color options to choose the ideal pad for your style.
It’s easy to machine wash, after use, which is another big bonus. Some saddle pads can be a real pain to properly clean.
Simple and affordable. The brand has a history of making some of the best horse saddle pad options.
What are its best features?
Easy to machine wash after use.
What could be improved?
Weight distribution leaves a little to be desired.
Composition: Synthetic suede fabric, high density foam padding
Size: Pony size measures 22 inches long. 14 inch drop. 20 inches from side to side at the widest part. The girth is 23 inches and will fit circumference of 53 inches – 76 inches.
Weight: 1.6 lbs
This is one of the eastern style saddle pads, otherwise known as English style. It is a little more expensive than some of the options on the market, but it has a lot to like and is a good choice for ponies. It also has a lot of flexibility for different sizes of horse.
It is made out of synthetic suede which is a great option for a lot of people and gives a traditional feel, but also a breathable design, both the bottom and girth are fully breathable which makes it easier to clean and also to care for. It’s filled with high-density foam for impact protection.
The contoured design also makes it pretty comfortable for the rider. The suede-style grip makes it arguably the best saddle pad for barrel racing and other demanding disciplines.
Size: Length is 21-3/4 from the 3 inch cutback, a 16 drop from the center seam to the lowest point. The length of the girth buckle to buckle is 22 Inch
Weight: 3.5 lbs
We’ve named the Intrepid International Comfort Plus Western Bareback Pad as the best western saddle pad. This is another option with a faux suede design and exceptional build quality and comfort.
It has a “natural seat” which features tuck and roll fleece, this gives it a great look and a suede-style finish, but also makes it very comfy for the rider. It stays perfectly in place as it adjusts to fit horses between 60 and 86 inches in circumference. You can get girth extenders if needed, for an extra 14 inches.
It’s a bit more expensive than some of the other options but it is made out of some fantastic materials and also offers a little bit extra protection around the withers, making this arguably the best western saddle pad for high withers. For build-quality you will struggle to beat this western saddle pad.
What makes it stand out?
Very good quality.
Adjustable and fits a variety of horse sizes.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
A bit more expensive than some other options on the list.
There’s no denying that the Equine Couture All Purpose Saddle Pad looks fantastic, as well as being a high-quality saddle pad. It is made out of 100% polyester so while it doesn’t provide a huge level of padding or comfort for people who are looking to use their saddle pad for help in this area. However, imagine turning up to a competition with something that looks so awesome! It’s very stylish, with five different color schemes and designs to choose between.
It has a jagged quilted design with rope trip, it’s pretty comfortable and has a tender, cushioning effect, but it still manages to be really lightweight at just 1lb. The girth loops included make it easy to secure the pad and as long as you do this correctly you will find the pad stays securely in place.
What makes it special?
Lots of great designs.
Easy to attach with sturdy girth loops.
What cons did we find?
Not the best saddle pad for team roping as it doesn’t give good padding.
The Weaver Leather 35-9307-H37 Contoured Saddle Pad has a fantastic design with some real quality craftsmanship involved. You feel like you are going back in time to hand-made saddle pads of the past. It has an incredibly strong Herculon fabric combined with leather and beautiful merino wool. This gives it a moisture-wicking property and can stand up to many hours out on the trail.
This pad is made from only the best materials and precision stitching. The placements of inserts and leathers are also done with detail. You pay a little extra for a handmade feel, but the performance is certainly good for those who want a traditional vibe.
One side effect of all this is that it is quite a heavy saddle pad so keep this in mind if you feel like that could be an issue for you. It weighs 5 lbs.
A lot of people are looking for a great saddle pad for ponies and these are often a bit smaller and have different composition. The TuffRider is very lightweight but still manages to do a very good job of protecting horse and rider and keeping things comfortable.
It’s made mainly from Polyester, so don’t expect the most incredible build-quality. A flannel underside helps with comfort and this is extremely light compared to other options.
In terms of looks, it’s available in lots of colors.
It has easy hook and loop tape billet straps so it’s simple to fit, too. Just be sure to check the size and that it will be big enough for your pony before making a purchase.
The Ovation Perforated Silicon Anti-slip Half White Saddle Pad is a fascinating design and all of the silicone gel and gripping design help you to stay perfectly in place. It is the best non-slip saddle pad but also a great saddle pad for bad backs.
If you don’t like the look of a saddle pad then this is also one of the most discreet designs you could hope for. It keeps the saddle secure and can fit the shape of any horse back so that you don’t need to worry about whether your horse is the right size.
If you’ve often found aches and pains after being out on your horse then it could come from having the wrong type of saddle pad. Something loose is far from ideal so the grip of the Ovation model can really help both you and the horse.
What makes it stand out?
Very discreet design which goes with any saddle.
Excellent grip, good for bad backs and keeping you in place on the horse.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Not as comfortable as some other options.
Things to Consider
Finding the right saddle pad can actually be quite a challenging thing to do. If you have never done it before then seeing all of the different styles, materials and designs can be a little bit mindblowing. The good thing is that actually a lot of it boils down to personal choice so you can decide which you want to use. As long as you think about what is most suitable for your horse then you shouldn’t have too many issues. It is absolutely essential that your horse is protected and comfortable, and that the rider doesn’t end up with any issues stemming from the wrong saddle or the wrong saddle pad.
Features to consider when choosing a saddle pad
Below are the main features we’ve used to create the best saddle pad reviews. It is definitely worth taking a bit of time to fully understand all of these terms and why we have included them within our reviews. Getting the wrong saddle pad can actually cause your horse a lot of discomfort.
Materials, color, design
You will see when reading through the best saddle pad reviews on this list that there are a number of different styles. Even within the different cuts and designs of saddle pads, you can choose different colors and materials that can make all the difference.
For example, some people are looking for a traditional design and like to have a bit of leather such as in the Weaver Leather 35-9307-H37 Contoured Saddle Pad. If weight distribution is more of a problem for you then going for something like the Kavallerie Saddle Pad can help with grip and ensuring weight is evenly distributed, it’s one of the best saddle pads for heavy riders.
A moisture-wicking material is definitely preferable as it will mean that you can keep your horse’s back dry. This is one of the key roles that saddle pads play. If it gets too moist under there it can be very uncomfortable for your horse.
Pad and saddle size
Saddle pads sizes include the length along the spine which is known as the top, and also a measurement of the drop of the pad.
There are a few considerations such as whether you are riding a horse or a pony, and of course you will need to check that the saddle will actually fit, as for example the TuffRider Basic Pony Saddle Pad is specifically designed for ponies. There are a number of different styles and ways in which the pad is cut so it makes sense to consider this and work out how it will sit upon your horse.
If you find that you are in any doubt at all it is usually best to go for an all-purpose saddle pad for either horse or pony. This way, without worrying about the specific use of the paddle you will be able to find something that fits reliably.
The weight of the saddle pad is another thing to think about before you make a purchase. If you need it to be portable then you might prefer a lightweight saddle pad. Alternatively, if you just want the very best materials then it might not be a big issue if it weighs a little more, especially on a bigger horse. Other factors are likely to play more of a part in your final buying decision.
Pads types and their use
There are a few different styles of saddle pads.
In dressage you will usually find square pads with simple designs are used, but shaped pads might be more suitable for hunting and jumping shows. A lot of the time, people who are using the pads at events will be quite specific about what colors and designs they want.
Half pads are used a lot and are common in almost every type of horse-riding. They can be used with square or shaped pads, too.
Western and English are two term you will come across when looking for a pad, too. An English style saddle is designed to be a bit lighter with close contact on the horse. The name comes from the English style where whoever is riding the horse has reins in both of their hands. Western, American styles usually just use one hand to hold the reins.
A warranty for this type of product is hard to find. Perhaps it is because they can easily become damaged if not used correctly. The Kavallerie Saddle Pad offers a 30-day money back guarantee. This might be as good as you are likely to get with saddle pads and finding a warranty that covers months or years of use is not really likely, especially if you are not looking to spend too much on your pad.
On our list of saddle pad options we cover a number of different price points. There are some real budget options out there and for those who feel they have already spent a lot of money on their horse it might be an area to save a bit of money. You can potentially find a budget pick saddle pad such as the ECP All Purpose Diamond Quilted Cotton English Half Saddle Pad under $50, or certainly under $100. More advanced options with better materials will cost a little bit more, with some costing hundreds of dollars. Spending a little more is no big deal if you end up with a saddle pad that is more likely to last a long time and one that provides more comfort to both horse and rider.
The main consideration here is size. You need to make sure there is room for the saddle on top of the pad and that it can offer enough protection to your horse. The shape and cut of the pad doesn’t matter too much as long as it covers the saddle and you buy a horse or pony model depending on what you need.
Maintenance is relatively easy, but they will need washing from time to time. Some of the best saddle pad models are even machine washable and they can just be put into the machine with other washing of similar colors.
For the right decision when getting a therapeutic saddle pad think about the weight distribution, wicking and grip. The pad rubbing on the horse can cause a lot of pain and you will want to ensure your horse is comfy throughout use. Also, moisture wicking can stop unwanted moisture building up.
The Kavallerie Saddle Pad is our best choice overall, with a 9.9 rating out of 10. It does a great job of distributing weight and it is very hardy, built to last a number of years. We’ve named it editor’s choice.
The TuffRider Basic All Purpose Saddle Pad is more of a basic model but it has a number of different colors and designs available and at the price point you really can’t argue with what is available. It offers good protection to both the rider and the horse at a very reasonable price. 9.7/10.