My saddle fitter says to use a thin pad. He says thick pads can act like thick socks that make your boots not fit anymore Posted via Mobile Device
While there is some truth to that - typically, a standard pad will only cause fit issues in a saddle that did not fit to begin with.....which is when a common mistake of "just add a pad" comes into play.
I believe in a western saddle, as long as the saddle FITS properly there is no need for a thick pad. A saddle pad is just to protect the saddle itself.
I have ridden several miles, and hours in my saddle with a thin Navajo pad and my horse has never came up sore. Right now I ride in a thicker one though, but mostly because it's the only really bright orange saddle pad I could find.
Even if a saddle fits well, a pad still protects from impact from the rider..that's a hard wooden tree plus the weight of the rider only being applied to wear the bars lay on the horse, so a pad also distributes the weight. Posted via Mobile Device
If I am at a barrel race or a reining/cowhorse show I want something to protect the impact on my horse's back. I really like Won pads, Impact Gels, Tacky Toos, or CSI pads. I really want to try the Zone pad from Classic Equine too.
However, for light summer trail rides or workouts I have a felt pad that is very thin and has the open breathe strip down the back so they won't get too hot. If there is anything strenuous though, I go back to my higher quality pads.
Did you know that if a western saddle fits the horse very well, it doesn't need but a thin blanket and can go all day without getting sore. Try your pony in a your english saddle pad and see how it is. Just watch it for bunching up where you tie the cinch.