Originally Posted by Saddlebag
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.
While that's true, how many people do you know who have a perfectly fitting western saddle?
I think "back in the old days" people got away with using only a navajo blanket because western saddles came with real sheepskin under the saddle. That could be an inch thick of high quality, dense wool. (And I'm sure it helped that saddles were carefully handmade by master craftsmen, vs. a lot of mass produced or imported saddles today). Now most western saddles come with cheap, synthetic wool that compacts down to a pancake in no time at all. And unlike English saddles, western saddles have no built in padding for the horse.
So, while I know it's true that a well fitting western saddle needs hardly any padding, I have my doubts about the average rider having that perfect fit. And unless they buy an older saddle, or can afford a custom one, they will not have the benefit of real wool.
I like at least a 3/4 inch felt pad for trail riding. If the saddle is a touch wide for the horse, I will use a 1". And I almost always have a single layer Navajo blanket under my pad to keep it clean. A wool Mayatex blanket. Then I always have good quality wool next to my horse.