Best Western Pad? SMX, Impact Gel, Cashel or Thinline? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 10-17-2011, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 43
• Horses: 2
Best Western Pad? SMX, Impact Gel, Cashel or Thinline?

I have 2 big paints and they have outgrown my current FQHB western saddle. It is not short enough or wide enough for them.

After much research, reviews, calling the coompanies and so forth, I ended up ordering an EXTRA Wide, super short, round skirt Tucker trail saddle.

I can't afford a new saddle, however, my horse's back's are worth it so I will go without somewhere else.

QUESTION: What are your personal experiences with SMX, Impact Gel, Cashel and Thinline?

They are so expensive that I'm hoping to get some real life reviews before making my choice.

Looking for:
coolest (it is HOT here in the summer)
most comfortable and protective for my horses (trail riding, good equitation:)
the least slippage (they are both barrel body)

Thank you for your help!!

Last edited by Equestrian09; 10-17-2011 at 06:52 PM. Reason: darn typos :)
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post #2 of 18 Old 10-17-2011, 07:12 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
Posts: 5,379
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It's hot where I am at too (Arizona) and I don't think you can get away from sweaty backs in that kind of weather, but I am a big believer in breathable material. I personally go for high quality wool felt. I have both 5-Star and Impact Gel and like them both equally well. I don't know how much the gel helps on the Impact Gel, I think I basically like it for the quality felt.

I tend to avoid the Professional's Choice Air Ride Pads because the ones I have, which granted are about 10 years old, do not breath well. They are wool on the bottom but the centers are foam and the horses really sweat with them. I don't know if the current Air Rides are the same or not. They are also not as thick as the good wool felt pads.

I've never tried Cashel or Thinline so I can't comment on those. I would guess the Cashel is that neoprene type material like their soft-saddle is made of, and if that is the case it wouldn't breath well either.

I trail ride too, and I will usually put a wool saddle blanket under my wool felt pad to keep it clean. The wool blankets are easier to wash than a saddle pad. The only downside is that they can travel a bit (migrate backwards under your pad) if you climb a lot of hills. But I normally can ride for about 5 hours and never have to make adjustments unless we do a ton of hill climbing.

I think a friend of mine summed it up best. Which would you rather have for your own underwear? A natural, breathable fiber, or hot sticky neoprene/foam? That made a lot of sense to me, so have stuck with the quality wool ever since.

A thick wool felt helps disperse pressure points better than the thinner, denser materials too. I have both 3/4" and 1" felt pads. I use the thinner pad with my wider horse, and the thicker pad with my narrower horse (they use the same saddle). And since I also have a wool blanket on the bottom (a single layer Mayatex) it probably adds at least another 1/4 to 1/2 inch to my overall pad thickness.
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Last edited by trailhorserider; 10-17-2011 at 07:15 PM.
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post #3 of 18 Old 10-17-2011, 07:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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Gels can generate a lot of heat. Wool next to the horse is a good choice as it wicks moisture away which helps cool a sweating horse. A pad thicker than an inch can cause the saddle float. Keep in mind that everyone touts their product as the best for your horse to get you to open your wallet.
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post #4 of 18 Old 10-17-2011, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 43
• Horses: 2
thank you, both!

Tucker makes a quality wool pad that is 3/4" and fits the contour of the saddle nicely - if wool is best perhaps that would be a good choice. I love the idea of underpad, as I like to wash my girth and pad after each use.

I am currently use toklat coolback pads and while my horses love them, they are so thick I feel like I am perched a foot above my horse. I bet that is why the saddle rolls, too!

I heard impact gel was hot, so your feedback confirms that. The foam sounds hot, too, now that you bring it up! I hate neoprene anything, and do not use my reinsman tacky too pad for that very reason.

I like thinline for dressage, but it looks so well thin! for western.

I like the idea you suggested as a thicker and thinner pad as I have the xxwide and the xwide horse and use same saddle but never share pads. The liner idea would help there, too. Great suggestions!

I wil find a link to the cashel pad I was looking at after I feed - I hear them both out ther nickering, so I must be 5 minutes late lol

Thanks again! I will check back and post that link.
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post #5 of 18 Old 10-17-2011, 08:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: left of center
Posts: 7,083
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Love my 5-star-pure wool felt, which is best for heat. There is another thread discussing CSI pads, which are also really nice. Both of these are pricey, but worth it, IMO.

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post #6 of 18 Old 10-18-2011, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 43
• Horses: 2
CSI, 5 Star

Iwill check into both of those, the 5 star looks great! They really are super expensive, but given the amount of time in saddle and the heat here in New Mexico, I agree it is well worth it :)

Here is my new rescued paint:
Tiny Dogs Rule

He has had very poor fitting tack (if he was even ridden much before) as the vet who did his chiropractic adjustments said he was severly out in mid back and shoulders and has some calcification on top of spine. He takes and extra wide tree western and a 5.5 inch bit as well, which surely no one ever bothered to provide for him. He hollowed out and squealed when I put just a light saddle blanket on him, which confirms my initial assessment of his past unfortunate treatment, so I want everything perfectly comfortable and nice for him.

I am still in the ground work, round penning, lunging and developing trust phase with him.
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post #7 of 18 Old 10-18-2011, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: left of center
Posts: 7,083
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What a beautiful guy! Good on you for rescueing him.

With the calcification you may want to look for something with an actual space (about an inch or less (between the wool felt pieces. I have seen them, they are held together by the leather. Mine has a space, but may not be a wide enough one to allow NO pressure on those calcifications whic I would think might be painful with any pad. I know Parelli pads have the space.....others, I am not sure. Maybe CSI. Parelli ones are good too, I just was never really a huge fan of the air bladders....with my luck I would punsture it, altho I have never heard of someone who did, and everyone (but me) had one at the barn I was at last winter.
Western Theraflex (TM) Self-Inflating Pad

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post #8 of 18 Old 10-18-2011, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 43
• Horses: 2
Thank you! He is a gentle spirit :)

Having my first horse since he was a youngster, there was no damage/abuse to work through and I knew his entire life story, habits, quirks, likes and dislikes.

This guy, I have no idea what his reaction is going to be to anything, why he was at slaughter or what has happened to him in his 8 years on this planet.

It has been challenging (he was jumpy & fearful - even of being brushed!) and expensive (vet and farrier bills) and rewarding (he is now trusting me, getting willing to learn and trying hard to please.)

I will check out the pads you suggested! I have seen the cut out spine channel pads you mention; that might be a great choice for him.

Here are 3 of the pads I was looking at initially:

Tucker Round Skirt Wool Felt Saddle Pad 48 52 53

Cavallo Reversible Saddle Pads by Toklat for Tucker ptk11-41xx

Circle Y Round Skirt Wool Felt Saddle Pad 55
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post #9 of 18 Old 10-18-2011, 04:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Have you considered Supracor?

It's round about 1/2" thick, and the best support I've found out of a saddle pad. The reason I bought it was because my broad backed horse can't handle anything thicker with my saddle. Too much bulk.

It's the signature Supracor honeycomb material, and very well made. They make several models, so you can probably find the shape you'll need.

Very hot weather friendly as well.

"You're just as sane as I am."~Luna Lovegood.
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post #10 of 18 Old 10-18-2011, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 43
• Horses: 2
Thank you!

I will look at those, I have heard only positive things about Supracore, 5Star and pure wool, so I think I have it narrowed down a bit - sooo many choices!
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