Correct Use of Saddle Pads:

All pads used under the saddle should be of a good, firm, quality textile, and very importantly also shaped to fit the horses’ back, particularly in the wither area. Pads that are completely straight cut will be pushed down by the saddle and cause pressure, which can lead to sore sports either side of the sensitive wither. Hard edges from the attachment straps can also cause soreness if they press against the horse. All pads should also be long enough so that the pad does not end underneath the saddle as this will cause pressure points.

Saddle pads should not be used to correct poor saddle fit but they can be used very constructively when seen as being part of the saddle solution. Jumping horses in particular benefit from the use of sheepskin pads under the saddles to protect the area under the stirrup bar by absorbing the kinetic energy generated by the landings. During the landing phase the horse has a short moment when the forelegs are on the ground, the head is raised, and the hind legs still in the air. At this moment the riders weight is completely supported by the stirrup bar, and therefore also the area of the horse directly underneath it. The use of a sheepskin pad with a well fitting saddle helps to absorb the impact of this part of the landing. Horses that are not wary of the landing impact jump rounder and more relaxed. We also recommend the use of a sheepskin pad in cases of ‘hollow’ or pronounced withers, as well as during recovery phases where muscle condition has been lost due to rest after injury or illness. By compensating the horse with the use of the pad the saddle can be made slightly wider and allow the horse room for muscle development underneath the saddle in the shoulder area without it being pinched or being made sore.

Hair Rub in Winter: Due to the brittle nature of the coat hairs in Winter and during the coat change in Spring, a lot of horses suffer from hair rub in certain areas including the saddle area. This is very rarely due to the saddle not fitting correctly and generally not painful. Mostly these areas are caused by the pads used under the saddle rubbing the hairs as the horse moves. Horses that move freely through their backs will have more movement towards the back of the saddle, and therefore rubbing is more likely to be visible. Rubbing that is more pronounced on one side or the other is a result of the tendency of the horse to be bent slightly more to one side than the other. This is a normal situation, and is not an indication that the saddle does not fit correctly. We advise ensuring that any pads used do not have any hard edges or stitching and if the sheepskin pad is used directly on the horses skin, it is very important that the pad is kept clean and dry to avoid the sheepskin fibres forming small areas of knotted fibres, which can also cause rubbing, particularly if the horse is fully clipped. Please follow the manufacturers cleaning recommendations carefully.

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