Out of curiousity, how many of you use a sheepskin pad and actually put it directly on your horses back? It seems most use a square pad under one which makes me think, do we really need the sheepskin? And when you buy one with the raised spine and wither area, the pad under it still lays down firmly on the withers. I bring this up because I have been shopping around for one (half pad style) And just started thinking, do I really need it if it will never touch my horses back? Maybe a full contoured pad would be better put directly on him. Inquiring minds want to know!
I never see the point of it on top of a square pad - the reason you are spending $ on the sheepskin is b/c of its lanolin, wicking and padding qualities. It should be against the skin.
I asked about putting it under the square pad, but that isn't best either, due to bunching, etc.
I guess the solution is the square pad with built in sheepskin, but then I have to give in & get rid of my artsy square pad
There is a guy at our barn that has a hand-made knotted wool blanket under his western saddle. He did it himself & just the wool was over 200$. I am not sure how to describe it - it looks like he gnarled up loose wool somehow. I think that would be awesome for their back.
I use it directly on my horses back. I alternate between a Thinline sheepskin pad and an Ecogold. I think a lot of people just like the look of the sheepskin with the square pad (I think it looks nice also, just negates the supposed qualities of sheepskin)
It depends on which kind of pad and what reason you are using the pad. I started using them when I worked for several Olympic team members back in the 80's and have loved them since. It's only in the last 5-10 years that I've seen people using them routinely under the square pad.
When doing eventing, dressage and jumpers, for the half pads that are being used to help with saddle fit, yes I use the square pad underneath with the sheepskin on top. the sheepsking has such a great advantage in loft but I really don't want to have to wash it every day.. My pads all have the open spine to give room for the spine but do a great job helping a sensitive backed horse. I am careful that the pad doesn't decrease the saddle width and the square pad still has to be pulled up off the withers..
However, IF, and I do mean only IF, I was going to be hunting with an expected high heat under the saddle, I would then put it directly under the fitted saddle pad. the wool does a great job of preventing heat from building under the saddle but that's the only time it's worth it to me to get it so dirty. I do have full saddle pads that are sheepskin and I really prefer to use them IF a horse actually needs the cooling action of the wool.
Coming over from dressage land, I too use sheepskin directly on the horse's back. I have a self-proclaimed DQ friend who insists this is completely and totally wrong, and to name a top-level rider who uses it directly on the back. I shrug it off and continue to use it against my mare's back. Like Hippolyta said, I want to use it for the wool's good properties.
Another excuse I hear (from her and others) is that the wool is "slippery." Well, wool fibers actually have these little "barbs" on them that adhere to the hair (not skin), so it's not slippery at all.
I only use my sheepskin pad 2x a week if I'm lucky enough to ride that much, so I don't worry so much about having to constantly wash it or my sheepskin girth. It's not good to wash them frequently anyway ...
Directly on the back, unless I'm just using it for a little extra padding to help saddle fit. But the main reason I buy and use sheepskin is for the cooling and circulation benefits to the back. Used consistently, it also molds to the horse's back. For Rico, with my dressage saddle, I prefer a full square pad with sheepskin lining and tuck it up into the gullet. With my hunter saddle I like a 1/2 pad. I justl let them dry after use and then brush off hair and sweat with a soft to medium brush between washing.
I too use my Mattes half pad directly on my horse's back with a square baby pad on top. I find the pad does not get that dirty and I can easily brush with a stiff brush when dry to get out any dirt/sweat. I have a horse with a sensitive back and the sheepskin helps in that regard.