Originally Posted by horse_luver4e
the leather can rub sores on the horses back.
:roll: Only if the saddle doesn't FIT! My goodness. Where did you learn these things?
As for the western saddle, synthetic fleece provides to cushion. English saddles have built in cushioning, to protect a horse's back from the hard parts of the tree. Western saddles with synthetic fleece do not. So, at least 1/2" wool felt pad or a doubled woven blanket (IMO) should be used for long-term use. Now, if you have a western saddle with thick pile real sheepskin underneath (that's in good condition), no, you don't need a pad for the horse's comfort. Unfortunately, most all of the western saddles built in the last 20 years don't have real sheepskin, unless they were custom made by a small saddle shop/maker.
I am a certified horse massage therapist and saddle fitter, and that is what we were taught. I have also discussed this issue with a couple of saddle makers and other fitters, and the consensus (so far) is that today's
western saddles are not made to be used without some kind of pad.