Best Thin Line deals are usually through TL itself - just get on their email list
From the TL website re caring for their sheepskin
For Regular Maintenance – The most important thing to know about sheepskin is that it hates to stay wet. If you ride the sheepskin against the horse or get it thoroughly soaked make it is dried quickly. Place the pad sheepskin up in a cool environment. In humid climates use a fan to blow over the pad. Sheepskin must be allowed to dry fully between rides. Once the pad is dry, a light brushing of the sheepskin with a pet brush will separate the wool fibers and help to keep the wool fluffy and resilient for the next ride. Ride, flip sheepskin side up in your tack room, brush occasionally. A simple daily/post-ride brushing is all your pad needs if not too sweaty from the ride.
Washing Sheepskin—Pads should only be washed when absolutely necessary, which should only be about 2-3 times in it’s lifespan if the above maintenance care is followed. Sheepskin saddle pads are best washed by hand in cold water using the following products: Eucalan, Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, or Ivory Snow Flakes. DO NOT USE MELP OR LEATHER THERAPY on these sheepskin products. You may machine wash (although hand wash is preferred) in a front loader, no agitators against the pad, single wash cycle only. Remove excess water in the pad by carefully squeezing the water out or placing in your washing machine on the spin cycle.
Drying Sheepskin— Sheepskin saddle pads should be laid flat, sheepskin up, out of the sun preferably under a fan. No dryers or other heating devices. The ThinLine shim may slow drying time so placing absorbent products such as heavy duty paper towels or shami’s such as sham wow inside the pocket will absorb water, speed the drying time and keep your sheepskin in better shape. Don’t over stuff pockets or the sheepskin may stretch. Do not brush or pull sheepskin when wet.
I'm pretty sure ThinLine doesn't sell their products through their website anymore. If they e-mail out offers from their distributors, that's a whole nother thing, though.
I LOVE my TL sheepskin half pad and so does my horse! I got mine here: http://smartriderhorsetack.com/ and was happy with the price. However, I also needed it shipped to Canada, so you may be able to find some places that have it a little cheaper.
I got the cotton fleece version (I think it's $150). I got in black as I am planning on using it every day. I figured the fleece will hold up better to washing (it still looks just like sheepskin) and the black won't get dirty so quickly. I have had it for a month and I LOVE it. It fits my saddle perfectly and I think it has made a big difference in the way my horse goes. I haven't had to wash it yet so can't really comment on that yet.
I don't have a Thinline, but I do have both a sheepskin halfpad with wither relief, and a sheepskin full pad, both of which I love. And as for showing in black, although it would not be "traditional", I would love it if I could, especially on certain color horses.
Crayola posse~ orange yellow, official pilot Proud owner of "High Flight" & "Shorty"
I got my Sheepskin saddle fitter pad from Arete Saddlery (online) and it was quite a bit cheaper than anywhere else I could find. This was about 4 years ago now, though, and their website appears to be down.
They're a great product though, and if you can spare the cash, I think they're worth it. Mine's held up very well over 4 years of consistent use, and when I wash it, it looks just about new again. For daily care, I brush it off with a stiff dandy brush, and if it's sweaty at all, I let it dry upside down and then fluff it up. I've washed it twice now (both times because it accidentally got insanely dirty-- not from regular use.) I use cold water and Eucalan in the bathtub and it's held up just fine.
I got a Thinline sheepskin a while ago, and I haven't needed to wash it yet. I do brush it out with a metal slicker brush and that gets the dirt out. I have a black one and love the way it looks with a black saddle.
Horse & Dog Designs: Clothing, Pendants, Water Bottles, Totes, Phone Cases, ETC: WoofNWhinny*
NEW: Australian Shepherds & Cowgirl Bronc Rider Horsey Humor, Ponies, Barn Safety & More.
I have the black and use it over my square pad in the jumper ring. For my occasional forays into eq, I have the regular TL pad that I use over my shaped pad. I have had mine for two years now, and use it every single ride. I always, always use a square pad under it, though. That keeps the dirt off and helps not get it so soaked in the summer. I've never washed mine.
If you keep an eye on eBay, there are deals to be had. I got mine for $120 including shipping.