Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Saddle pad searching

I'll go back in time a bit. I got my new saddle. The saddle pad I had doesn't work with it - the pad was slipping and the saddle rolled a bit. So I had the shims sent to me, but for the life of me I can't figure out what to do with them so haven't actually used them.

In the meantime, I got the pad I had on order - it is a Saddleright pad. I already have one of these pads for my jumping saddle, and I love it. I've had the pad for almost 15 years now and it is still in great shape. It provides a nice "shock-absorbing" (for lack of a better description) protection for the horse's back, and it also helps fit a too-wide saddle. Unfortunately, the western/trail version did not work with this saddle - it also slid back from under the saddle.

Woe is me.

Back to the drawing board. You cannot imagine how many saddle pads are out there and it is mind-boggling to try to figure out where to start. And part of the problem is that a lot of them don't have "trial" policies so if you buy it and it doesn't work out, you're screwed. (Saddleright has a money-back guarantee, which is why I tried it, but I'll have to send it back. :-( )

I had heard a lot of good things about 5-Star wool felt pads and I have a friend who rides in one and so she let me borrow it. It was a 3/4" full western pad, meaning it has square edges and is long enough that it is supposed to fit under a saddle with a square skirt. My saddle has a round skirt and it is also shorter than a lot of western saddles, so when I put my saddle on top of this pad, there was a LOT of pad behind the saddle. It is shaped for the withers and has a wither cutout, so that's good, but it slid back just a bit and then rubbed Mac's back at the back edge of the saddle, so that's not good. I did feel like I was on the right track with a thicker pad, though, so off to do more research.

Here's what I was thinking:

1) I need a thick pad
2) I need a short pad
3) Ideally I'd love to have a pad with a latigo/billet keeper like an english-style pad
4) I think I need a "shaped for the withers but not a wither cutout" pad
5) I want something with soft/rounded edges (no square edges like the felt pad)

So off I went to shop again. I emailed with the good folks at Riding Warehouse for a suggestion and in the meantime did my own research. Colin and I got out my old pad that didn't work, got the saddle, put them together, measured them together and separately every which way and came up with a Toklat Woolback round barrel saddle pad from the Riding Warehouse website. Funny enough, it is the same pad that was recommended to me by one of their customer service representatives. I ordered it last Friday and got it yesterday.

Today was my first ride with it, and . . . it is perfect!!! I used the latigo/billet keepers, but I didn't need to - the pad did NOT move. It is nice and fluffy and reminds me of the fluffy half pads that I've used with my jumping saddle. It gave a nice cushion underneath the saddle but wasn't too thick that I felt far away from Mac's back. It left his back nice and warm but not hot, there was an even sweat pattern, there was no rubbing on his back, and he seemed to like it by the lovely ride we had.

So big thumbs up and big sigh of relief, too!

I'll try to get a picture in the next few days - I forgot to bring my phone out with me when I went for a ride today.

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