Choosing the perfect pad
Find out how to choose the perfect saddle pad or numnah for your horse with this handy guide, including sizing information.
The amount of equestrian gear we need for our horses can sometimes get a bit overwhelming (admit it, you love buying new kit), but one very important item that should be high on your shopping list is a saddle pad. For those who don’t know, a saddle pad is placed under the saddle and is used to protect and cushion the saddle, protect the horse’s back and absorb sweat. All this will lead to a much more comfortable ride for you and your horse. However, if you’re not sure what type of saddle pad to buy for your horse, then it can be quite confusing to choose the right one. That’s why we’ve created this handy saddle pad buying guide covering the different types available, as well as sizing information and more.
Different types of saddle pad
Here are some of the most common types of saddle cloths (sometimes known simply as a ‘square’) and the differences between them…
The difference between Western & English saddle pads
You’ll often see two primary types of saddle pad – western and English. The difference between the two is that they’re designed to go under their respective types of saddle.
Western pads are more blanket-like, and should be around 35 inches square, often made from wool or wool-like synthetic material.
English saddle pads are the style you’re probably more accustomed to, and the ones we sell here at Country & Stable. English saddle pads are normally thinner than their western counterparts and made with a range of materials from cotton and synthetic suede to foam and fibre along with many more. Shapes of English saddle pad can vary, ranging from square and oval styles to those that more closely fit the contours of your horse’s back.
When choosing a shape, the important thing is that it acts as a barrier between the saddle and your horse.
What are numnahs?
Most guides will tell you that numnahs are just another word for ‘saddle pad’ and that they’re the same thing, but this isn’t strictly true. While they essentially do the same job, they differ slightly in shape – regular saddle pads are squarer in shape, while numnahs are saddle shaped.
View all of our numnahs
Whether you buy a saddle pad or numnah is really up to personal preference. It is worth noting that if you wish to do showing, a numnah is a preferred look as this assists in showing off the horse’s conformation.
Dressage saddle pads
Dressage saddle pads are more suitable for use with a dressage saddle’s as this has a unique shape with a straighter cut knee roll. However, they can be used for everyday use as well as competing. They’re available in a wide range of styles, colours and designs.
View all of our dressage saddle pads.
Jumping and General Purpose (GP) saddle pads
In a similar way to dressage pads, show jumping, and GP saddle pads are primarily used with jumping/GP saddles which offer a more forward cut knee roll. These can be used for regular hacking as well and might be suitable for dressage and other disciplines depending on what saddle you’re using.
See our wide range of show jumping and GP saddle pads.
What are half pads?
Half pads, as the name suggests, are smaller than regular saddle pads and are shaped more like the contours of your horse’s back. They fit over the top of a normal pad and under the saddle to provide a more comfortable fit. They can be made from various materials, including sheepskin, gel and neoprene.
See our great range of half saddle pads and gel pads.
How to choose the right size saddle pad
Of course, it’s important you choose the right size saddle pad for your horse or you’ll find it doesn’t fit properly and can cause more harm than good. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to work out; just follow this size guide for English saddle pads:
Common saddle pad materials
Saddle pads and numnahs can be made from several different materials. Some of the most common include:
- Sheepskin – Sheepskin is a popular material to use in saddle pads and numnahs as it’s durable and comfortable. It’s also very breathable, allowing sweat to wick away from your horse, and also has a very attractive aesthetic, so is popular for those taking part in competitions.
- Bamboo, synthetic suede & cotton – As technologies have advanced we have seen an progression in materials used to construct a saddle pad each offering benefits. From moisture wicking to antibacterial there is a variety of choice.
- Gel saddle pads – If your horse is prone to injury or is tender along their back then a gel pad can offer further cushioning to absorb shock. They’re often half pads and fit over the top of a regular pad and are also available as rear and front risers if you need more support in a particular area.
- Foam & fibre – Many saddle pads are filled with foam or fibre, which has excellent cushioning properties. Some also have memory foam so that it effectively contours to your horse and the saddle.
- Neoprene – This is a rubber-like material meaning it helps keep the saddle in place. It’s also waterproof and breathable (wetsuits are made from it) and is easy to clean.
Take a look at our full range of saddle pads and numnahs, or if you have any further questions, please get in touch.