11-13-2009, 09:19 AM
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Unlike an English or Australian saddle, the tree of a Western saddle is very close to the horse. There needs to be some material between the tree and your horse to absorb the concussion of riding - thus the saddle pad.
Pad thickness depends on what you are doing. A long tail ride or ranch work needs a thicker pad then W/T for 1/2 an hour in a ring.