Tack Warehouse Top 5 Best Orthopedic Western Saddle pads for horses
Tack Warehouse has been in business of fitting saddle and western saddle pads for over 30 years. Western Orthopedic Saddle Pads are designed to help or prevent a horse from having back issues. We carry the best orthopedic saddle pads made. Our top five brands are Classic Equine Saddle Pads, Equibrand Saddle Pads, Professionals Choice Saddle Pads and Fleeceworks. We will discuss the reasons below. But first, there are many things to consider when choosing the best orthopedic saddle pad for your horses back such as
1. Does your Saddle Tree fit your horse?
2. What material and or thickness of saddle pad is best for the bottom of the western saddle pad in contact with your horses back?
3. How is your horses back shaped or horse muscled?
The first question is, why do we use A Western Orthopedic Saddle Pad?
Western orthopedic saddle pads can make the heavy work of a horse more comfortable. Tack Warehouse carries a large variety of western orthopedic saddle pads for horses. So the first thing a western rider must evaluate is if their saddle fits their horses back or if the horse needs some sort of back relief. We normally do this by placing the saddle directly onto the horses back and looking to see if the saddle is sitting level. We check to make sure there is even contact with the western saddle tree that runs along the horses back. We do not want any gapping. We look to see if the saddle tree is angled forward and pinching the horses withers. Or if the saddle is angled back indicating the saddle is too narrow for the horse.
Next we put the saddle pad on the horses back. Simple things like measuring the length of a horses back for saddle. Sometimes on the foundation quarter horses with short backs the saddle skirts are too long and can rub the hips of the horse. It a saddle angles forward; this would indicate the saddle is to wide for the horse. In this case we would look for a saddle pad with a thickness to allow the saddle to sit evenly on the horse. Sometimes this means a shim, sometimes this means picking up the entire saddle with a 1" pad to lift it up off the horses back, or it could mean a sway back pad typical for an older horse that has a dropped back to fill in area bridging between the horses wither and back so there is even contact and no gapping.
In the case of a narrow saddle, the saddle needs to be lifted up so that it is not angled backward putting pressure on the horses kidney's. In this case if a wider saddle is not an option, we choose western saddle pads with built in plates, equipedic saddle pad, or ortho equine saddle pad that have a back riser built in or equipedic western saddle pads that are thicker to raise the saddle up and make it balanced.
We also evaluate the rider and some larger riders need thicker ortho saddle pads to protect the horses back from rider concussion. The orthopedic saddle pads can improve the rider or saddle fit by creating even weight distribution along the horse’s back.
How does a rider know when they need an orthopedic correction saddle pad?What we want is after the horse being worked the horse’s back is evenly wet with no dry spots. Dry spots on a horses back after being worked are an indicator there was so much pressure in that spot on the horses back and the horses sweat glands were cut off. The dry spots without correction measures being put into place after time turn into patches of white hairs. Normally the white hairs are what inexperienced riders notice first but when you see this often it is too late because the saddle did not fit properly for the horses back. Western orthopedic pads can help with saddle fit issues.
Next we evaluate the western orthopedic saddle pad itself... Some horses have allergies to neoprene or other synthetic saddle pad materials. Some riders that are on the trail for long periods of time will do better with an all natural saddle pad made from all cotton, felt or wool to absorb horses sweat. Thick wool felt saddle pad material can take pressure from saddle by rise and fall and compressing to meet the slight changes in saddle pressure points and accommodating heavier riders weights.
We look at the western horse saddle pads and see if they are raised up in the front or "contoured" to allow the pad to sit up into the pommel of the saddle and give the horse room to move their shoulders. We look to make sure the saddle pad has at least 1/2" in front of and behind the saddle so the saddle is not in direct contact with the horses back while the rider is riding.
Neoprene Saddle Pad BottomsSome western riders use neoprene bottoms saddle pads that go on the horses back . These pads do a good job gripping and preventing saddle slippage however; the horses back gets warmer and can cause issues if it is hot out or the riders go out for long periods of time. The nice thing about neoprene pads is that they can easily be sanitized for western horse trainers using the same saddle pad on multiple horses.
Evaluating the Riders Saddle & Horses Back
At Tack Warehouse we also evaluate the horse. It is simplistic to think a western rider can buy the perfect saddle and expect this to always fit without change. However, the bars of western saddles are rigid and inflexible. The reason is that horses muscle differently depending on the time of year and how much the horse is being worked, horses often loose weight during cooler months, also the age of the horse as the horses will muscle up as they come into themselves and an older horse will start to loose top line and back drop. So the western rider must always check to make sure they are using the best saddle pads to fit their horses ever changing shape and conditions.
Some horses have high withers or no withers depending on breed. Western saddle pads should maintain gullet air space between the horses wither and saddle with at least 2 fingers minimum distance and avoid pressure and contact with the saddle rubbing on the horses withers. Orthopedic saddle pads also help reduce pressure points caused by unevenness in the horse’s back. Horses with prominent withers can create hollow wither pockets that must be filled in by a proper fitting orthopedic saddle pad.
Western saddle pads used for orthopedic correction help improve your saddle's fit to make your horse more comfortable. Orthopedic saddle pads add a layer of comfort and support. The material can help minimize saddle slippage. Basically the rider must choose the best options using a variety of brands and saddle pad styles and saddle pad materials, such as wool pads or gel saddle pads. How can an orthopedic saddle pad prevent saddle slippage due to sweat? Neoprene is sticky by nature and contacts the horses hair. The neoprene prevents saddle slippage.
Orthopedic Western Saddle Pads
Saddle pads or saddle blanket are used under western saddle to keep the sheepskin lining of the saddle clean and to help protect the horses back. The material and thickness of the western saddle pads are designed to raise the bars of the saddle up off the back of the horse and cushion the horse’s back. Fleece, compressed wool felt, foam and synthetic fleece are materials used for protection and cushion on the bottom of the western saddle pad.
Extra saddle pad thickness to fill in hollow gaps or extra padding where the bin areas along the horses back where the saddle bars press down a much can are an easy solution to buying a new saddle and make the difference between a happy working horse or a horse that is unwilling, fidgets, grinds their teeth or jigs because the horses back is sore. The materials the western pads are made of help to relieve pressure from the rider and saddle and also allow breathability and air to flow over along the horse’s back.
Western pads are shaped with the side of the pad joined along the spine with a strip of leather or other material that generally has holes to allow ventilated air flow. On some pads the leather is thick and shaped to allow structure and keep the saddle from touching the horses vertebra. The spine of the pad lets the western horse pad move independently as the horse moves and bends and the open channel down the center of the saddle fits into the saddle and if fit properly locks the saddle pad into the saddle to keep pressure off the horse’s spine, allow the horse to move and allow air to flow from the front of the saddle through to the back of the saddle.
Western Saddle Pads with Shims
Some western saddle pads have shims or saddle plates already built in . Brands like Professional's Choice SMx Air Ride OrthoSport or Toklat's Cavallo Total Comfort System pads or the Ricotti western saddle pad. Orthopedic Saddle Pads are some come with built in shims that fill in gapping. Equipedic saddle pad inserts help provide padding. There are a variety of shim style western saddle pads from companies like Weaver Leather, Classic Equine, Double Diamond Shimable pads that can be used with or without the Shims. The Shims are made of dense rubber or dense wool felt materials .
Orthopedic Saddle Pad Brands
The western brand Ricotti saddle pad is a hard-working thick wool felt western pad providing a stable base and the built-in shims act to fil in gaps or more serious depressions behind the horses shoulders. In this pad, the shims are beveled and gently tapered off behind the shoulders of the horse. Many riders that ride cutting horses choose this pad.
Professional’s Choice saddle pads are fancy and have a selection of Navajo colors for the top with soft wool along the underside of the pad . These pads are often used as western show pads. The SMX has stitched-in shims behind the shoulders that help to raise the saddle up for prominent withered horses.
Classic Equine offers a wide variety of off the shelf quality saddle pads including pads with built in rubber compression plates , saddle pads with built in front riders or rear risers or even a saddle pad with a center section that help fill in gapping for a older horses that is starting to become sway back . Classic Equine, Equibrand and Reinsman have ready to go saddle pads with shoulder fill correction pads to protect the horses shoulders. These pads are popular options for team ropers there the horse takes a direct hit when a steer is roped.
Tack Warehouse Carries a Variety of Orthopedic Saddle Pads In Stock For You to Shop for the best fit for your saddle and horse.