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No longer need a half pad? Opinions and Experience

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  • No longer need a half pad? Opinions and Experience

    Hi everyone.

    I posted a saddle fit thread a little while ago. Well, our saddle fitter was in town and so I had her walk over to my side of the barn just to see if my Bates Caprilli is fitting my mare OK, since I had already prepared to sell and replaced. She said, in fact, with a medium plate it fit perfectly. We also found that with the half pad, it fit too narrow, but widening it with a half pad made it too wide...

    My saddle fitter had always recommended a half pad with this horse, as her back is rather sensitive and she can be a tad bit cold backed at the beginning of our ride. Again, let me remind everyone that my mare does have a chronic healed lumbar/spinal injury (TBD on official diagnosis), and she's naturally very sensitive around her back and loin area.

    well, I threw my saddle on today to check for fitting like I do every day and I found that, with just the square pad, it fit perfect. So, since I don't have any half pads thin enough for a saddle that fits perfectly, I just decided to try to ride without one.

    I don't like to do this because I worry about having some extra fluff between the panels and her back. However, I gave it a shot.

    Honestly? I didn't feel a huge difference in her movement. She moved out great, was a little short strided for the first few minutes which is normal for her, and then started to really step out. I also felt something that I'd never felt with half pads. Swinging of the back perhaps? I felt more mobile in the saddle. It didn't feel harder or easier to get her to engage her abs and lift her back during our ride. I definitely felt her back better than I do with a half pad.

    How do you guys manage saddles and half pads? Fitter recommended Mattes pads, no memory foam or cotton. My mare has had nerve damage in her back due to rocking saddles, the poor thing, so I am VERY, VERY anal about her saddle and comfort. Can I continue without a half pad or is it better to find a thinner sheepskin brand to put under it?

    My panels are CAIR. It is a secondhand saddle but I don't believe they've been redone. I am planning to get them wool-flocked sometime next year.
    https://lovingthelamehorse.wordpress.com

  • #2
    Add a thinline for shock absorption and protection without the bulk of a half pad.

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    • #3
      If a saddle fits correctly, there isn't a true need for an extra pad on the typically otherwise healthy horse. I rode my TB like this for years and he never had any issues. I did have a great saddle fitter at the time, so that helped. Occasionally I'd try an ultra thinline pad, but I didn't notice a difference with that particular horse.

      ​​​​​​So if a saddle fits really well and I wanted something more for "comfort" sake, I'd use the Thinline Ultra.

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      • #4
        My ultimate solution is a serge panel saddle with just a thin cotton pad. The serge panels are softer than leather (and certainly CAIR) and really kind to the back. I also have a Bates jumping saddle with CAIR panels and don't like them very much, but it seemed fine with a LeMieux pad, which is a little thicker than most standard quilted pads.

        I just picked up my fully reflocked Black Country from the saddler, and she explained that with natural wool in the panels, the portion where it meets the panels will begin to "felt" with use. This creates a nice smooth surface that is molded to the horse's back, not something that's possible with CAIR.

        In reality, my current horse is in a wool flocked saddle with leather panels, and she's asymmetrical, so shims are needed. Padding situation is a wool-backed LeMieux pad, and then a 1cm foam shim along the left side, which will hopefully not be needed if we can get her back muscles evened up.

        I'm not a huge fan of using lots of pads, because I think it can create tight spots. For instance, I was using the wool-lined pad plus a SaddleRight half pad to take up space when I was trying to make do with a too-wide saddle. It seemed to fit at the front, but I suspect it was starting to pinch under the stirrup bar/seat area due to the thick padding.

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