Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
• Horses: 0
I dislike gel pads, and memory foam pads - because what happens is, when you put pressure down onto the pad, what happens to the material? It escapes from the pressure given, so offers no protection from pressure points that the saddle may cause.
Now to the 2nd point in your post, yes and no - yes, your saddle should fit perfectly without a pad what-so-ever BUT there are horses who have oddly shaped backs where no matter how many saddles you put on their backs, you wont beable to find one that will fit perfectly.
Take my fellow for instance, like many TB's - high withers, muscle atrophy, A symetrical and etc, etc, etc - where no saddle will fit perfectly. Back to my fellow.....if you were to look at him, you'd say "narrow" for a tree width - BUT I can't go narrow, because he has broad shoulders and a broad back, while being A Symetrical. He has muscle atrophy behind his shoulders and a weak loin - so no matter what, you wont find a saddle that'll fit him.
I can go narrow, but now I am hindering his shoulders, I can go wide, but now I am hindering his withers. He also has gaps and pockets along his back - soooooo, yes, getting a pad to help fill in the gaps and the pockets, will help to make the saddle that fits him "best" without a pad, fit better.
I have a nice saddle now, that fits him quite nicely, aside from the fact that it is too wide for his withers, and the pockets behind his shoulders due to muscle atrophy over time from poor saddle fit - and being A symetrical - I have to go with a pad, to make that saddle I have, fit him "perfectly" or as perfect as I can get.
I had a saddler come out recently, who spent quite some time, measuring his back, examining the saddle on his back, measuring the gaps and the spaces, made tracings - and is making me a custom pad, to make the saddle that I have, fit him better.