Saddle Pad or Saddle Blanket
Which is Best
Or Does It Matter?

The saddle blanket or saddle pad is an essential riding accessory but what is needed is often over-emphasized.

Which saddle pad or blanket should you get?

Maybe you already have the answer.

Otherwise The answer is - "it depends". There are enough types and styles on the market to make your head swim.

Western Saddle Pad
Western Saddle Pad
Our old friend "Saddle Fit" is the starting point.
  • If you have a saddle that fits well all you really need is something that protects the underside of the saddle itself. That is really the primary function of a saddle pad or blanket. A thin pad or blanket should serve admirably.

  • If the saddle fits well but a little adjustment is in order, a thicker pad, possibly a gel pad, would be a good choice. You're not trying to fix a serious problem, just something that tends to compensate for minor irregularities.

  • If the saddle fits poorly the only acceptable solution is a new, properly fitting saddle. A pad or blanket won't help and a pad or blanket that is either too thick or too thin only makes matters worse. Don't try the "Princess on the Pea" approach (many layers). You'll just make matters worse with each layer.

Pads containing gels are often highly promoted. Nothing wrong here. In cetain circumstances a gel pad my be the best. Same for pads that "breathe".

You do want a pad that helps carry water away from the horses back, particularly on long rides. Wool or a wool/fleece combination usually does this satisfactorally.

Whether were talking pads or blankets we are looking for this -

  • - protect your saddle from sweat, dirt and hair
  • keeps the horse's back cool while wicking away excess sweat
  • stabilizes the saddle, and

  • contributes to the comfort of the horse.

Quality blankets, wool/fleece pads, or gel pads will all do this.

For myself I use wool-fleece saddle pads. Easy to keep clean (a Shop Vac usually does the trick) and I hang them on sections of PVC pipe when not in use. The pads have wear leathers, small strips of leather on the edge of the pads ( to protect against wear from the rubbing of the stirrup leathers). I recently looked over a selection of pads at a local tack shop and was particularly impressed with the quality available. You can view a selection of better items and read a bit more about pads by Clicking Here.

Much is made of the "Navaho" blanket and for good reason. An authentic Navaho blanket is 100% wool, woven from a very sturdy yarn resulting in great durability and many years of service. There are blankets on the market of lesser quality that, having a Southwestern pattern, are sold as "Navaho" blankets, usually at "bargain" prices. Keep quality in mind. Authentic Navaho blankets are probably your best bet, when you can find them but there are plenty of other high quality blankets on the market.

I've purchased a few Navaho-style saddle blankets. I'm a sucker for them. It probably comes as no surprise that they've ended up in the house as items of home decor.

So, if you purchase a quality Navaho blanket as a gift, it could end up either on the horse or in the house. Not bad either way!

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