Saddle pad sizes are the most important aspect of choosing a saddle pad.
After all; you could choose a $300 worth saddle pad under your saddle but if it does not fit properly, you’d end up with a temporary fix and a sore horse.
In this guide, we will discuss the right saddle pad size and answer the question: what size saddle pad do I need?
Let’s get started.
Check: Best Ever Saddle Pad Reviews
Saddle Pad Sizes and Measurements
We’ll start with basic measurements for both English and Western saddle pads. Then, we’ll discuss how to choose just the right size for your horse.
English Saddle Pad Measurements
- A general, all-purpose English fitting saddle pad measures about 22” at the spine and 21-inches at the drop. (The drop is the measurement from the center fold to the pad’s lower edge and the spine is the topmost part measured end to end when unfolded).
- For kids, a general purpose English saddle pad measures about 19” at the spine and 17 inches at the drop.
- General purpose endurance riding pad measures about 23-inches at spine, and 17-inches drop with flap width and seat width of 17 inches each.
- Close contact pad measurements for adults are spine 20-inches, drop 19-inches, with seat width 12-inches and flap width 15 inches.
- Dressage pad measurements 21 inches each for spine and drop. Flap and seat widths are both 13-inches.
Check out this video for a quick overview.
Western Saddle Pad Measurements
An unfolded standard western saddle pad measures 32 x 32 or 30 x 30 inches. It has a drop of 15 to 16 inches and a spine measurement of 30-32 inches.
Read more about how to measure a gullet on a western saddle.
How to Choose the Right Saddle Pad
Take the following factors into account when selecting your saddle pad:
1.Riding discipline/intended use of the horse
The size, shape, thickness, and material of the pad should correspond to the intended use of the horse.
Saddle pads for short-term dressage have different requirements compared to those needed for longer or endurance riding.
Here are some disciplines and the kind of pads they need:
- Showing – FEI and local shows always ask for white pads.
- Barrel racing – tough contoured pads made from either fleece or wool
- Dressage saddle – special dressage pads in white are available for dressage saddles
- Showjumping saddle- a close-contact showjumping saddle pad.
Saddle pads are available in natural (wool pad, felt, fleece lining) and synthetic materials (neoprene pads, rubber, synthetic fleece, etc.).
Some sensitive horses react to synthetic materials and break out into hives, rashes, or suffer hair loss.
Natural materials rarely cause these issues. Also, natural fibers have better breathability.
Many experts recommend wool pads with an interior breathable core of foam. They are durable, breathable options, and keep you and your horse comfortable.
Of course, you must also select the material based on ambient temperature, moisture absorption, breathable core, friction reduction, shock absorption, nice cushion, or uniform pressure redistribution characteristics.
In addition to western discipline and English saddle pads, you can have four different types of saddle pads:
- Shaped pads or contour saddle pad – these are available in a variety of materials. They are used for showing. You can also have square-shaped pads which are warmer.
- Corrective pads and half pads – these contain memory foam and offer superior compression protection. They are useful for horses with high withers or back problems.
- Sheepskin-lined pads – these come with fleece lining to provide superior shock absorption and are comfortable for both the horse and the rider. Synthetic fleece options are also available.
- Gel-inserts – Saddle pads with gel-inserts offer even better shock absorption than sheepskin. They also prevent the saddle from slipping.
4. Your horse’s comfort
In addition to your preferences, you must also take into account your horse’s shape and size. No pad fits every single horse. A horse with high withers and a long back can use a longer pad.
A contoured pad can be better as it prevents slipping and contours really well to the horse’s back. A miniature horse will need smaller pads.
Straight pads often take longer to break in and could bunch under the saddle. Poor saddle fit can cause a host of issues.
If a horse has a short back then choose a pad that is proportionally shorter. Always follow the saddle pad fitting guide given by the manufacturer.
READ MORE: How to Clean Saddle Pads Correctly
Can I Use a Blanket or Does My Horse Need a Saddle Pad?
A blanket does not offer shock absorption as real saddle pads do. If you do prefer a blanket, then choose the high-quality, real Navajo wool blankets which are warm, breathable, and comfortable.
These days, there are synthetic Navajo blankets available as well, but these don’t have the same benefits as real Navajo wool blankets.
Can a saddle pad be too big and long?
Yes, a saddle pad can be too big and that can cut off blood circulation to your horse and even cause fit issues or saddle pressure. Likewise, a very thick one with extra padding could cause the horse’s hind legs to move both the pad and the saddle forward.
What size is a pony saddle pad?
Pony pad sizes -spine length of 18 ½ inches and a drop of 19 inches.
What makes a good saddle pad?
Good saddle padding will provide comfort to both the horse and the rider. It should not cause abrasion, hair loss, or skin issues on the horse. Moreover, it should fit well under the saddle and prevent it from moving too much. A good saddle padding also keeps your horse warm in winters and cool and sweat-free in summers.
The best way to determine saddle pad sizes is to measure the saddle and add about 2-3 inches front to back. Always select a high-quality pad as it will be a worthwhile investment.
Never base your selection on price alone as a wrongly fitting pad can cause many issues for you and your horse.
- Boatwright, Abigail. 2011. “Field Guide to Horse Blanket Fabrics.” Horse Illustrated Magazine. September 22, 2011. https://www.horseillustrated.com/horse-keeping-horse-blanket-fabrics.
- Dover Saddlery. 2015. “Stable Sheets & Blankets versus Turnout Sheets & Blankets – Discussions at Dover.” Discussions at Dover. September 17, 2015. https://blog.doversaddlery.com/stable-sheets-blankets-versus-turnout-sheets-blankets/.
- “English Saddle Pads | Dover Saddlery.” 2021. Doversaddlery.com. 2021. https://www.doversaddlery.com/saddle-pads/c/3200/#:~:text=Saddle%20Pads.%20A%20saddle%20pad%20protects%20against%20friction,quilted%20over%20a%20thin%20layer%20of%20poly%20fill..
- “Horse Tack: Saddle Pads – Their Purpose, Types & Costs.” 2021. Horse Racing Sense. August 29, 2021. https://horseracingsense.com/horse-tack-saddle-pads-purpose-types-costs/.
What saddle pad sizes do you use for your horse? Let us know in the comments below!
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