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Corrective Padding

There are many elements to fitting your horse with the proper saddle, and one of the most important is choosing the right pad. Learn from our experts on what we recommend. Saddles are designed to fit the majority of horses, so they're built to fit the average shape that most horses will fall into. If your horse's conformation would generally fit the average build, except for one of these common issues, a corrective pad may be the answer for you.


Common Misconception

Sweat Marks

Often used to diagnose fit, we've noticed that sweat marks are both incredibly helpful and incredibly misunderstood when used to diagnose saddle fit issues. While the optimal sweat pattern is even, without dry areas, the meaning of the dry areas are critical.

  • Bridging - these dry spots (like in the photo to the left) are caused by the saddle not making contact along the center of the bars. Putting the saddle on with no pad you should be able to easily slide a piece of paper or ribbon under the center of the saddle, perpendicular to the spine. You may even be able to fit your hand between the horse and bar. A bridge pad is needed.
  • Previous Injury - Some dry spots are caused from previous injuries that have damaged the sweat glands in that area. Key markers of this are white spots and consistent dry spots in a specific location regardless of tack used.
  • Pressure Points - using a high quality wool pad can also cause dry spots, as they're designed to wick moisture where pressure is applied. Try feeling that same spot on your pad to see if you have a dry spot from a gap or from your pad doing it's job. If you see ruffled hair or swirl marks from excessive movement in this area a shim pad may be needed to help even out the weight distribution and stabilize the saddle.

Overcorrecting

Over Padding

It's tempting to try to add more padding to correct any fit issues and make your horse more comfortable, but this can actually have the opposite effect and be dangerous for you and your horse. Keep in mind that corrective padding is designed to adjust proper tree fit, it cannot change tree fit. You will still need to make sure that the saddle bars fit the overall conformation of your horse. For saddles that are already too wide, over-padding can raise the saddle and exacerbate pressure points, and saddles that are too narrow will only perch higher with more padding, leading to more discomfort. Plus, too much padding can impede your ability to feel your horse's movement and send cues.

A quality wool pad will be much more comfortable for your horse than added padding, as it will wick moisture to help keep your horse comfortable regardless of the temperature, and they absorb shock, making them fantastic choices for any rider and discipline.