Knowing how to make saddle pads for horses is not just a fun and productive way to channel your creativity but also one of the more affordable options you can opt for instead of buying new pads.
Here’s how you can make a horse saddle pad at home:
- Cut out the fabrics and foams in the proper shape
- Mark the places you need to stitch
- Sew all the parts together
- Cut out the straps
- Make decorative cording
Table of Contents
Making The Saddle Pad – 5 Steps
I’m going to list down all the materials you need below, even if I’ve already mentioned them. Here’s everything you need if you want to learn how to make saddle pads for horses:
- A saddle pad you already own
- Cotton Fabric
- Flannel in dark colors
- Thread that matches the fabric
- Nylon webbing that matches the fabric
- Bias Tape
- Decorative ribbon or cording
Let the horse saddle pad project commence!
Step 1: Cut It Out
Lay your saddle pad upon the foam and cut out a similar shape. Make sure to leave an inch around the pad’s edges. This is known as the seam allowance.
For those of you who are new to this, when you sow two pieces of fabric or material together, the seam allowance is basically the space between the stitching line and the fabric or material’s edge. (1)
Once you’re done with cutting the foam out, place it atop the plain fabric. Cut around the foam, careful to preserve this shape, just as you did for the foam.
Once again, make sure you’ve left an inch or half an inch of seam allowance.
Now it’s time to cut out the printed fabric. Repeat the steps; place the foam atop the printed fabric and cut the shape out, once again, taking care to leave the seam allowance.
Now, if your fabric is printed a certain way, you might need to cut out more than one piece just to make it look right. Alternatively, make sure you’re cutting the fabric according to the print pattern, so it doesn’t look odd.
Otherwise, a lot of your hard work will go to waste, and I would hate for all that material, time, and energy to go to waste.
Step 2: Establishing The Boundaries
No, this is not about your relationships – although those might need the same advice occasionally – this is about the fabric and how you’ll be stitching it.
This is so you can make some quilting guidelines!
You can use some chalk and a ruler to do this. Align the ruler with your fabric, and place it at the two-inch mark from the edges.
Do this all the way around the fabric. Once you’re done, connect all the lines. Make sure you’ve connected them across the entire fabric.
Repeat the same step; draw the two-inch mark further into the printed fabric and connect the lines. Keep going on until you’ve done this across the entirety of your saddle pad.
Step 3: Let’s Sew
Okay, this is where all those lines you painstakingly made come in.
This step is pretty simple, even for beginners. All you have to do is sew over the lines you made.
If you’ve been stitching on a regular basis or are used to it, this should be a piece of cake.
Make sure you used a visible enough chalk otherwise, you might have to go back to step 2, and make those lines again. Speaking from experience, the frustration of having to do that is enough to make anybody quit the project, at least for a while.
You can also use a marker, as long as it can be erased. Trust me when I say you don’t want to be scrubbing away at sharpie lines on what could be some really nice saddle pad materials.
However, you need to lower the tension on your sewing machine before you begin. This is to make sure the stitches don’t look like they’re knotted.
Sometimes, too much tension will lead to rippling. If you have experience with stitching, you’ll know this will make for a terrible saddle pad.
Place the layers atop each other, the lowest being the plain fabric, foam in the middle, and printed fabric on top.
Step 4: Add The Bias
Tape. I’m talking about the bias tape.
Sew the tape on. You can use pins to secure it to the materials.
I use a gazillion million any time I go for projects like these. Just keep taking them out as you sew.
This will make for a neater stitch.
If you want to make your pad look like one of those higher-end options available in tack shops, use cording!
This is a purely decorative step that I like to do, but you can skip it if you like.
Just be careful not to let the needle slip.
Step 5: Make The Billet Straps
To cut the webbing for the billet straps, just use the horse saddle pad you already own and cut according to that size.
Pin them in the same place, and sew them on as well as you can. Neaten it up, and you’re all set!
You’ve managed to create a homemade horse saddle pad!
Here’s a video that can offer you a visual guide to follow:
Things To Consider When Making A Saddle Pad
One obvious thing you need to take into consideration is the type of saddle you own.
If you have a western saddle, then you’ll need to learn how to stitch a western saddle pad.
If you own an English saddle, you’ll have to learn how to make an English saddle pad. For these, you will have a couple of different shapes to choose from, such as saddle shaped and jumping square.
You will also need to consider the type of fiber you’re using. For the tutorial above, I just used foam.
But you have plenty of higher-end options such as wool fibers, synthetic materials like neoprene, and wool fleece.
You can mix this with memory foam or whatever other material you prefer for additional padding.
However, make sure the preferred fabric you use to cover the materials inside is compatible with animal hair and skin.
Your horse is going to sweat all over the saddle pad, so fabrics with moisture-wicking ability are something you should look into.
Merino wool is a great option as it is soft and doesn’t cause itchiness, yet it has great breathability and moisture-wicking properties. (2)
Lastly, think about your horse’s well-being and whatever would offer maximum comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best thickness for a saddle pad?
It’s best to use a pad that is 3/4″ thick. For trail riding or racing; you can go for a 7/8″. But mostly, the thickness depends on your preferred sport and saddle fit.
2. Can your saddle pad be too thick?
Yes, if the saddle pad is too thick, it can affect the fit of your saddle and make it too tight or cause excessive pressure.
3. How much longer should a saddle pad be than the saddle?
The saddle pad should have a minimum of 2 inches in length from the edges of the saddle.
I hope I’ve helped you find out how to make saddle pads for horses. If you love creative projects, this is something worth trying. You can have tons of fun and create unique custom saddle pads that don’t look like anyone else’s.
If you have any more ideas on how to do this, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
1. Pattern Making Fundamentals: Seam Allowance [Internet]. The Cutting Class. 2011. Available from: https://www.thecuttingclass.com/pattern-making-seam-allowance/
2. Lockhead-Castelao E. Environmentally Friendly Wool Saddle Pads | ThinLine Global [Internet]. thinlineglobal.com. 2020 [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from: https://thinlineglobal.com/blog/woven-wool-saddle-pads-better-for-the-sheep#:~:text=Merino%20wool%20is%20able%20to
Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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