Originally Posted by DuckDodgers
Haha, that's my issue. I would LOVE a 5 star pad, but they cost more than my saddle did! If I had another $100+ to spend on horse tack then my used saddle budget would have been another $100 higher... And coming from the English world of inexpensive quilted pads being more than adequate I would have said that you're nuts if you told me that I'd even be considering spending $60+ on one regular saddle pad!!
Not many English riders would scoff at spending $250 to re-flock their quality saddle with new wool, if needed. They don't think it's nuts to spend an extra hundred or so for special flocking on a new saddle, whether it be lovely wool, air panels or foam. They accept spending sometimes hundreds to have the saddle fitter out to adjust the flocking of their saddles for the perfect fit.
An english saddle pad isn't needed, it protects the saddle or the horse's back. It does near nothing for comfort, beyond wicking sweat, possibly reducing rubbing. The padding for an english panel is built in, under the trees there are panels full of wool or another sort of padding.
The western has no padding, it's just pretty much the tree. Instead, you add your own padding. The western saddle pads are not comparable to the english pads as they are an integral part of the saddle fit. They are part of the saddle. They are the equivalent of flocking.
They're certainly pricier, but they're also very important. When purchasing a saddle, I look at a saddle pad as part of the purchase, if I need one to suit that saddle. It's just part of the package. Always get the best you can afford, if in doubt go with something simple. A plain wool felt saddle pad will probably be better value than some fancy foam one with a chunk of the purchase price going towards marketing.