As horse owners, we have a big responsibility when it comes to taking care of our equine partners. The equipment that we choose has a significant impact on their safety, comfort and well-being. Whether you realize it or not, your saddle pad is one of the most important pieces of tack.
There is a lot to consider when picking a pad, since your horse’s back absorbs a significant amount of repeated impact, also known as repetitive concussion. A quick type in a search engine for “Western saddle pad” can have you overwhelmed in a heartbeat, and have your wallet crying for mercy. The team at Synergy® by Weaver worked with industry professionals to identify some key elements of a saddle pad to help pinpoint what type of pad your horse may need and why.
Shape: A horse’s back isn’t straight — it doesn’t really make sense for a saddle pad to be, either! There are several different contours you will find:
Dramatic contour, accentuated with a leather spine: This is a great overall pad design but most noticeably provides maximum wither relief for high-withered horses. The additional lift of the center of the pad contour also allows air to travel down the horse’s spine and keep them cooler.
Flex contour: The pad is ergonomically shaped with increased pad flexibility. This design pairs well on mutton-withered and round-backed horses. The slight raised front and back of the pad spine area allow the pad to lock into place on the horse’s back to help prevent saddle rolling.
Original contour: These pads are tried and true, with a wither relief cutout to help eliminate direct downward pressure of the saddle pad on the withers.
Materials: Quality materials are key to keeping your horse comfortable and achieving a longer pad life. There are a few different saddle pad components with various options to consider:
Liner: When choosing the underside liner of your pad, wool blend felt is a great option that naturally relieves saddle pressure points. If your horse works in extreme heat or sweats a lot, an F10 Virgin Merino wool liner has the capability to wick up to 20 times its weight in moisture while maintaining softness and elasticity. For horses with sensitive or thin skin, a merino wool fleece liner is the gentlest option.
Topper: Felt material as the saddle pad topper is optimal when doing everyday work or for times when you may be going through brush that has the potential to snag your pad. Handwoven New Zealand wool toppers are a great way to express your individual style, whether you’re practicing, competing or going down the trail.
Inserts: There are many different materials used inside pads to absorb repercussion, disperse pressure points and add orthopedic elements to a saddle pad. Unique to only Synergy® by Weaver, it uses a ventilated EVA sport foam insert that is shock-absorbing and lightweight. The compression-resistant insert has proven orthopedic value and will not degrade over time. When thinking about the repetitive concussion on the horse’s back, an EVA sport foam insert’s shock-absorbing capabilities allow it to not only absorb the impact from the saddle, but also take that energy and transfer it back towards the direction it came from, limiting “rider bounce.”
Pads made with high-quality materials will last for years of riding and keep you and your horse more comfortable. The new Synergy® by Weaver saddle pad line includes a variety of these options and is backed by a No Risk 90 Day Test Ride Guarantee to give you peace of mind when you make your next saddle pad investment.