It seems everyone is using them. I never have tried one. But I'm thinking about trying a half pad.
Do you use them, and if so, why? Do they really provide much in the way of being therapeutic or beneficial? Or is it just a lot of trendy (& expensive) hype?
It seems like there are endless choices with the Mattes pads. I don't know where to start. What's the difference between the billet and PM system? What is holding the pad in place, if anything?
What is your saddlepad configuration with a Mattes half pad? Do you use a baby pad or regular square pad, or both, under the half pad to help keep it clean? Mattes sells a linen saddlepad for nearly $100, claiming it helps keep the sheepskin clean while helping to maximize the benefits of the sheepskin. Is this just a load of hooey or would any thin pad do the same?
Regarding fit... is the Mattes pad thick enough that it would make an otherwise well-fitting saddle too snug? Or is it not enough to interfere?
I'm not exactly sure what "model" I have... I do use a sheepskin mattes pad though. It stays fairly clean, I brush it out after each ride (and often before as well)... it's white, I wish, looking back, that I had bought a black one... next time. It's supposed to be used UNDER the saddle pad, otherwise it's just a riser. It's also not a quick-fix for ill fitting saddles. My saddle fits my horse extremely well without the mattes pad, the pad simply promotes circulation & extra comfort. I notice a small difference with my horse when I use it. I do like it.
However I do notice that it seems to be an awfully big trend. Most people I know who use one, don't even know why they're using it...
I use a full-size or shaped Mattes pad. I've never tried the half-pad. I like it for the cushiness. I have never used any sort of liner between the horse and the pad, as I like the idea of the wool fibers interlocking with the horse's coat. That's also why I've never used a half-pad, as they are usually used sandwiched between the saddle and another pad.
I've used wool saddle pads for years. Used to make my own from sheepskins I bought at Colorado Sheepskin. I use Eucalan Woolwash and machine wash them on the woolen or delicate cycle, adding more Eucalan to the final rinse to condition the sheepskin. This is also how I wash leather seated breeches. Line dry. It'll take a couple of days for the pad to dry. I wash mine (on average) every week or ten days. I have a second pad so I can use one while the other one dries.
Dover makes a nice sheepskin saddle pad, similar to the Mattes for less $$. If you want to try sheepskin without the high price, consider the Dover ones.
I used a mattes half pad for years about 8 or 9 years ago on my round backed mutton withered boy. I used it because it was the only slip proof padding I could find that actually worked on him. I rode my pad under a treeless western barrel racing saddle and performed all my western events with it. The pad saved my horse from being cut in half, and me from the saddle coming sliding off during a pole pattern or when on a cow.
Mattes are worth the $$ in my opinion, I still have mine nearly 10 yrs later and I did not take good care of it, rarely cleaned it, when I did I washed it in a bucket with woolite, sun to dry, etc. Its still very useable.
I currently use an engle pad thats a full dressage pad with the sheepskin in a half pad configuration underneath. I got it new for a reasonable price on ebay. I puchased this instead of a mattes as I wanted spinal clearance in the design, mattes does offer that too, but I was bargain hunting on ebay and it wasn't there at the time. I'm happy with the engle so far, though it seems better shearling was used on my 10yr old mattes.
Many of my saddles fit my morgan like a kidskin glove, so yes, I find they are to bulky and will narrow a close fitting saddle.
If a saddle I'm riding has any play in it at all, I do wear my engle pad though. If a saddle is too close a fit for sheep, I wear a baby pad and a thinline pad.
I find sheep has some cushioning abilities, but I ride one mainly for anti-slip on a wider fitting saddle, and because I simply like sheepskin, its natural and breathes, its my pad material of choice.
I use a Fleeceworks pad--similar to the Mattes but much cheaper. I actually like it a litlle better than the Mattes (I've had both) because there is a little more padding. The sheepskin just seems a little thicker. I had trouble with my Mattes pad slipping under saddle but the two Fleeceworks pads I've gotten don't seem to slip at all.
My horse has sensitive skin--he hates to be touched. So, even though my saddle was fit and checked regularly (like 4-6 times/year), he would occasionally be flinchy about it. So I tried a Mattes pad, and I think for him, the extra cushion is what he needed. I use it under the saddle, over a square pad to keep clean. I realize the sheepskin is then not touching, but the cushion on the skin of his back is what I was after anyway. I had my saddle reflocked to incorporate the Mattes pad--it would have been too tight if I hadn't. So far with a really dirty horse I've been washing it about once monthly and it still gets pretty white. I may also consider a black one in the future or a full sheepskin pad for shows...
From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.
I just indulged in one of the custom Mattes pads, bright red with black sheepskin. But on eBay, so the whole thing with shipping is only 84 Euros. Bad, bad, bad me! I love 'em.
I have two Fleeceworks half pads, one black and one white. To me the half pads, Fleeceworks vs Mattes, were like six of one and half a dozen of the other. No real preference, like both. LOVE my Mattes girth as well.
I don't like the sheepskin lining on any pad. It makes the saddle too high and unstable. I purchased the half pad lined in sheepskin, and it wouldn't stay in place.
I just recently purchased a dressage Mattes pad without sheepskin. It is the model that allows for shims. So far, I like it a lot. I rode in it for the first time today on two different horses in two different saddles. Both saddles are too wide for the horses, so I put in the front shims. The thing I noticed most was that the pad stayed up in the saddle channel and did no compress at the wither. It was a very stable pad.
This pad cost $200. That is a lot of money for a pad!
I have one for my high-withered mare, and I use it when she is lacking a bit of topline because it makes my saddle stay off her withers. If she is in shape though, my saddle fit perfectly and the Mattes pad makes it too tight.
It does give a bit of cushion, but IMO a Thinline pad works just as well without altering saddle fit.
I love them. My white one allows for shims both front and back which is great for young horses and you can adjust as they get muscle and grow butt high on occation. lol I just got a regular Mattes half pad for my mare in black as she needs just a little lift to her saddle for it to fit a long with a regular quilted cotton pad. I use the half pad with a saddle pad that has a built in half pad for jumping to really cushion her back.
I use the Mattes half pad against my horses back with a very thin baby pad on top. Works well and does not shift when properly placed.
There are different types of Mattes pad - go for the platinum which is real sheepskin. the gold is a woolpile and not as nice.
I wash mine with very little regular detergent in a front load washing machine and then line dry out of the sun. Wears very well.
I find them on eBay for good prices - you just have to keep looking and ask questions of the seller to make sure spine free (made the mistake once and got a non spine free one) and if platinum - tell the seller to look on the underside of the black tag.
If the saddle's a tad too wide, you're better off with the "spine-free" pad. A too-wide tree will tend to sit too low across the horse's back. A spine-free pad (with a channel down the center of the pad to allow space over the spine) will add clearance.
[quote=eventinglvr;3642634]I use a Fleeceworks pad--similar to the Mattes but much cheaper. I actually like it a litlle better than the Mattes (I've had both) because there is a little more padding. The sheepskin just seems a little thicker. /quote]
I disagree, IMO the Mattes sheepskin is thicker, denser, more plush and in general superior quality to the Fleeceworks, I have both. Sheepskin is most effective in relieving pressure points, it also wicks moisture away leaving the horse's back cool and dry. Although I have both a half pad and a full fitted pad I prefer the closer leg contact the half pad allows me. I am not a dressage rider though, maybe you will feel differently. Using a baby pad between the sheepskin and the horse's back eliminates most of the benefits of sheepskin if it can't actually be directly touching the horse. They are easy to keep clean if you allow it to dry and then just use a stiff brush on it. I don't know about paying $100 for a linen cloth.
I love my Mattes pads! It is all that I use, or will use. I have 4 total, one plain black, one white, one black with tericada(Sp?) piping, one white with champagne and silver piping. I only use the black ones for schooling. I have had the plain black one for four years, and it's just starting to wear, but this is also being used on two horses at minimum 4 days a week. There is a considerable difference with my big guy when I put a regular saddle pad on him, he has another said, is very touchy, especially with his back. I've had the saddle looked at numerous times, and my saddle fitter actually suggested after 5 saddle fittings, to try a Mattes pad. Wala! I have a forward moving horse again. I have sold my other pads on ebay, and won't go back to regular saddle pads. I swear by my mattes pads, and I truely believe that my horse loves his.