This is a great question and one worth taking the time to explore as it will have very real impacts on the safety, comfort and performance of your horse and the quality of your ride.
Get your saddle right first!
The best advice you can follow at this initial stage is to start by inspecting your saddle. Look carefully and make sure it is properly fitted to the contours of your horse. No saddle pad, regardless of size, brand or material type will substitute for a properly fitted saddle. Get this right and you’ll be a Phar Lap stride closer to finding the right saddle pad for you.
Active Equine Tip - If you haven't done this before or don’t know exactly what to look for, contact us for more personalised tips or speak to a qualified saddler near you.
What are half saddle pads?
Half Pads (like standard saddle pads) are pads that sit between your saddle and your horse. Averaging half the size of a full-sized square pad, half pads are made of various materials and are generally used to fine tune the fit, comfort and performance of your saddle. Half saddle pads pack many specific technical features designed for those wanting to:
- improve saddle fit and grip
- provide additional shock absorption
- slightly raise the height of the saddle
- improve breathability and sweat build-up
Like humans, the shape, posture and build of a horse changes over time so half saddle pads could also be of service if your horse’s
- back is sensitive
- musculature is uneven
- saddle isn't sitting right (around the pommel or cantel)
- weight changes
So let’s take a closer look at some of the main types of half saddle pads to help make your choice a little easier.
Gel half saddle pads
About...averaging 2-3mm thickness and filled with a gel material, half saddle gel pads have great shock absorption, anti-slip and heat dispersal properties.
Suited to… slipping saddles or for horses with sensitive backs
Pay attention to… finding a pad that prevents heat build up under the saddle.
About...Fleece-lined half pads are thicker and better suited to filling out saddles with too much room around the sides.
Suited to… horses who suffer skin reactions or allergies
Pay attention to… products that allow you to adjust for girth and minimise pressure along the spine and withers.
Active Equine Tip - The PEI Merino Wool Half Saddle Pad makes an excellent product choice if a fleece lined half saddle pad is what you need.
About...made with shock-absorbing materials, these half pads are designed to distribute the impact associated with strenuous activity like jumping or dressage.
Suited to… riding activities that generate sudden impact and the need to maximise comfort for both the horse and rider.
Pay attention to… the specific materials and construction of shock absorbing half pads as these things very much influence the benefits they offer.
Building your knowledge is half the journey
A half saddle pad make a great addition to your tack if chosen correctly so do your homework first to identify exactly what you need. An experienced saddler or saddle pad retailer is best placed to help you find the pad that best suits your needs and inform you on what to look for, so make the most of their expertise.
Once you have made your purchase, continue to monitor your saddle and pad for fit and comfort, noting any changes you discover and reporting back to your saddler.
Happy & Safe Riding
The Team at Active Equine