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Sheepskin half pads w/ well-fitting saddle

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  • Sheepskin half pads w/ well-fitting saddle

    Yesterday I jumped Sky and had a Fleeceworks half pad under my saddle for the first time. The saddle is a bit wide but not causing damage. I found it to be super comfortable and felt like I had a lot more cushion on his back, but not in a bad way. So naturally, my brain starts going "Oh, I want one of these!"

    Problem: My Stubben, which will be here this week (first one had to be sent back), is HOPEFULLY going to be a pretty great fit. I'm worried that if I add a half pad the saddle will be a bit too snug. My dressage saddle was flocked to fit him and my other horse, so its not a perfect custom fit (or it would have been too narrow for Bailey) but it fits him pretty well. I'd like to try a half pad under my dressage saddle as well and see if the extra padding helps him loosen up a bit more.

    My Stubben saddle fitter says she prefers not to use a half pad unless its necessary, however the Devoucoux rep who was out for a different boarder uses and promotes half pads to protect the horse's back. Two saddle fitters, two opinions. Typical horse world, eh?

    Thoughts? Opinions? I definitely need to see how the Stubben fits once it gets here, and have the fitter out to check it, but I'm definitely interested in adding a sheepskin half pad for comfort's sake.
    Last edited by runNjump86; Jan. 11, 2014, 01:58 AM. Reason: spelling!
    runnjump86 Instagram

    Horse Junkies United guest blogger

  • #2
    Might be the different material in the panels. Stubbens have wool and are designed to shape to the horse's back. Devoucouxs have foam panels.

    Comment


    • #3
      You can ask the fitter to flock it to allow you to use a half pad

      Comment


      • #4
        The fitter I use who isn't affiliated with any brand definitely recommends a fleece half pad or thin line half pad when jumping to help absorb shock. I have one for both dressage and jumping saddles even though they are both flocked to the horse and wool (Albion dressage and Amerigo jumping)

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        • #5
          I have a custom fit stubben dressage saddle and when my horse was sore in his back (NOT saddle related) my fitter said using a half pad that allowed the saddle to still sit evenly should not drastically affect the fit. (i.e. mo built in risers/padding etc.) and would help the shock absorption for his back. She recommended the Thinline sheepskin half pad. I have since sold that horse but am still using the thinline with the new horse - his saddle has been adjusted and the tree and panels fit pretty darn close but he needs just a touch more wither clearance when it is girthed and sat on, so the halfpad solves the problem.
          I would see how it looks when you get the saddle, and ride in it both with a halfpad and without and see if the balance and stability of the saddle feel the same. I know my Stubben excalibur fits my horse super well with plenty of wither clearance and I think if I put a half pad underneath it, I would feel miles above the horse rather than on the horse, for him I plan on getting the thinline pad without the sheepskin to slip under the saddle without adding the extra bulk of the fleece.

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          • #6
            Theoretically, a sheepskin half pad won't have much effect on fit. Realistically, it can. If the saddle was flocked/fit to be ridden with just a thin cotton quilt, the extra bulk may make it too tight (think of wearing your dress shoes with stockings, and then wearing them with wool socks). If the tree's a little generous, a fleece half pad can improve things a lot. Try your new saddle with the half pad and see. It may be able to have the flocking adjusted to accommodate a half pad, or not ...

            Just as an FYI, fleece pads should be used next to the horse's body to get the full therapeutic benefits of the fleece. Otherwise, all you get is a little extra bulk and cushion.
            Kitt Hazelton
            Saddle Fitter
            www.pantherrunsaddlery.com
            www.saddlefitter.blogspot.com

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            • #7
              Originally posted by runNjump86 View Post
              My Stubben saddle fitter says she prefers not to use a half pad unless its necessary, however the Devoucoux rep who was out for a different boarder uses and promotes half pads to protect the horse's back. Two saddle fitters, two opinions. Typical horse world, eh?
              First of all, ditto everything Kitt said. That was great advice. Secondly, the more accurate way to phrase your quote is "Two saddle fitters from two different brands speaking to the way sheepskin pads are likely to affect their two very different products." Stubben saddles are designed with long, rear-angled tree points that are designed to spread the shock over the trapezius muscle. They're designed to be fit very precisely to the horse's shoulder width. Devoucoux saddles are designed with a shorter point and deeply recessed stirrup bars, and they're built on a standard tree size that's often modified for fitting purposes with a customized foam panel.

              So while I've certainly seen cases where a half pad works very well under a Stubben, and I've seen cases where a Devoucoux is best used without a half pad, the two fitters are right: because of these different architectures, generally a well-fit Stubben is best left alone, and a Devoucoux may benefit from having a half pad under it. But ultimately, YMMV and you have to check the fit with each individual saddle + half pad. Not all half pads are the same thickness, shape, etc. and not all horse conformations are affected the same way by insertion of a half pad.

              If you're hell-bent on getting some shock absorption without adding much width, you could try something much thinner, like a Thinline or Ultra Thinline pad.
              Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

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              • #8
                If you ask the Prince of the Pea that I ride, a sheepskin half pad can mess up the fit of a saddle that has been custom flocked to fit him.
                I thought he had lost some top line in his 5 months off, so I added the sheepskin half pad. He fussed and complained until I finally listened to him and went back to riding without it. The he went back to working great. He truly is the Prince of the Pea.

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                • #9
                  It also depends on the shape of your horse. I've had two reputable fitters representing very different brands tell me that some horses who are A shaped do better with a half pad no matter how well the saddle fits.
                  "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks all. I meant my "typical horse world" comment to be light-hearted...especially since it's usually two people, three opinions.

                    My Stubben is also an Excalibur. The first one they sent me did not fit and the whole reason I went with a monoflap was to feel close to my horse, so I definitely don't want to feel like I am miles above him. I didn't feel that way in my other saddle when I tried the half pad.

                    I do have an Ultra Thinline and a cotton trifecta Ultra Thinline. I've been a big fan and have recommended them, but I must admit to feeling more shock absorbancy with the Fleeceworks half pad. I'm going to do some experimenting this week with my Thinline pads and see if I can truly tell a difference. To be honest its not something I paid a lot of attention to before. It's probably worth mentioning that the chiropractor I use doesn't care for the plain Thinlines because, in her opinion, it traps heat and doesn't allow the back to "breathe". I did not ask either saddle fitter their opinion on Thinlines.

                    I also realize to get the full benefits of sheepskin it needs to be on the actual back of the horse, but honestly...how many people who use sheepskin half pads actually put them UNDER the square/regular pad? I've never seen anyone do it...I've only seen them used between the saddle and the bottom pad. Not trying to be snarky, just honestly curious.
                    runnjump86 Instagram

                    Horse Junkies United guest blogger

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                    • #11
                      I was so worried when my excalibur arrived that it was the wrong fit for my horse. I'm like you - i want the monoflap for the close contact feel and didnt want to feel so much saddle between me and my horse. The excalibur seemed a little bulky and seemed to sit above my horse. BUT, my fitter confirmed the tree width and paneling was good for my horse and said the leather on the excalibur's take forever to break in well (mine is the deluxe leather, not sure if that makes a difference) and once suppled up would mold around my horse better and settle. So I spent hours in front of the tv working and rolling the leather in all kinds of fashions and lo and behold the thing is starting to soften and now rides (and fits!) like a dream. Now if only I could afford to get the dressage version as well!

                      Enjoy yours, hope the second one works for you!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There are a lot of different half pads out there. My guy insists on one - under his square pad - and has a saddle that fits him well, but differently depending on his level of fitness, so I have a super thin one, a medium thin one, a fleeceworks and a mattes that I can shim. Love the mattes for the spine channel, but it's too thick sometimes.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ibex View Post
                          It also depends on the shape of your horse. I've had two reputable fitters representing very different brands tell me that some horses who are A shaped do better with a half pad no matter how well the saddle fits.
                          If the saddle *really* fits the horse, you shouldn't need more than a thin cotton quilt, no matter how your horse is shaped! Given the multitude of tree shapes/types and panel configurations available, you can fit pretty much any conformation going if you find the right combo.

                          That said, there are disciplines (I'm thinking competitive trail/endurance) where riders do use extra padding, and a fitter has to take that into consideration when fitting/recommending a saddle.

                          Finally, I do know folks who use the fleece next to the horse ... but usually w/o a pad over it.
                          Kitt Hazelton
                          Saddle Fitter
                          www.pantherrunsaddlery.com
                          www.saddlefitter.blogspot.com

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by TakeAChanceinVA View Post
                            I was so worried when my excalibur arrived that it was the wrong fit for my horse. I'm like you - i want the monoflap for the close contact feel and didnt want to feel so much saddle between me and my horse. The excalibur seemed a little bulky and seemed to sit above my horse. BUT, my fitter confirmed the tree width and paneling was good for my horse and said the leather on the excalibur's take forever to break in well (mine is the deluxe leather, not sure if that makes a difference) and once suppled up would mold around my horse better and settle. So I spent hours in front of the tv working and rolling the leather in all kinds of fashions and lo and behold the thing is starting to soften and now rides (and fits!) like a dream. Now if only I could afford to get the dressage version as well!

                            Enjoy yours, hope the second one works for you!
                            Yeah I am honestly skeptical about mine because the first one left a bad taste, so to speak. My fitter found a saddle in my horse's tree size, but when it got here it was too narrow. Turns out that model is a bit funky, size-wise. I did every trick under the sun to get that leather to break in (before we confirmed it was too narrow vs. new saddle needing broken in) and it's STILL stiff as hell. I really don't want a saddle that feels like a board, so your post gives me hope! Did you ever tie it up with rope with the flaps rolled under it? I read on another board someone did that with success!

                            Regarding his shape...he is definitely an "A" shape. Huge, high withers and a dip behind his shoulders. There is always a bit of a dry spot in the dip (on both sides). I've heard that a dry spot is bad and I've heard that it doesn't mean much if the saddle has been checked for fit (it has). It's also not flocked JUST for him, so I'm curious if it was, if the dry spots would disappear. However I need it to be able to fit my other guy, so if a fleece half pad helps, I'm all about it! Cheaper than a new saddle!
                            runnjump86 Instagram

                            Horse Junkies United guest blogger

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by runNjump86 View Post
                              I also realize to get the full benefits of sheepskin it needs to be on the actual back of the horse, but honestly...how many people who use sheepskin half pads actually put them UNDER the square/regular pad? I've never seen anyone do it...I've only seen them used between the saddle and the bottom pad. Not trying to be snarky, just honestly curious.
                              Sheepskin half pad should be directly against the horse's back IF you want full benefit of the therapeutic qualities ... or if horse has sensitive skin & needs a pad that is truly breathable & wicks sweat away from the horse; just for the cushion effect, use it wherever ... my experience when questioning people why they don't use it directly on the horse
                              it gets too dirty

                              FP has 2 thin & 1 thick sheepskin pad, all wash up just fine - though now that he has the custom County saddle (rather than the used "other horse" saddles), Ogilvy baby pads have replaced the sheepskin half pads (which were used without any other pads).

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                For my previous saddle I was using just the Mattes half pad with shims and no other pad.
                                Since my new saddle is custom fit for my horse the Mattes is too thick.
                                As I am a heavy rider I am considering getting a real sheepskin half pad that is thinner than the Mattes. My last flocking I did have a fake sheepskin and a square pad. The square pad has a little bit of fill between the layers, so more than a baby pad but way less than a poly pad. I would like to go back to just the sheepskin half pad and no square. I should have room to do that.

                                I would think that you could use a half pad with shims to fill the hollows since you are not fitting this saddle as fully custom to this horse and it sounds like you have to go a bit wider than you might have for that horse so it will not be too narrow for your other horse. Hence you should have room. I would defer to your fitter and the fitters on this board.
                                As others have pointed out there are different thicknesses with the different half pads.
                                Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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