Different pads for my saddle.
Hey there, I have a 6 year old QH gelding, with decent withers on him and a wide shoulder (he's a big boy)
I had a regular tree before and it was too narrow on him, while it was great for the withers, I went to see if it could be fixed with a pad (if I was using a wrong pad to cause this) and it was not as we fitted the saddle without a pad.
I got a wide tree, higher (in the front) saddle for him, and it fits a lot better. We fitted it without a pad and it fit good, no pinching or tight spots, then I put my pad on and realized that it was hurting him, I was wondering if maybe a contoured or a cut back pad would be better for him? as my pad was weighing down on his withers.
So you guys know this is NOT an issue if the saddle fits correctly, this is purely having a wrong pad for my horse. And I would appriciate some suggestions from you guys :)
I have a barrel saddle, so it's obviously western riding we are talking about.
I am not entirely sure how the saddle can fit well with no pad and then putting a pad on the horse makes the saddle fit poorly :?. If the saddle had enough wither clearance to begin with, then adding a pad should actually make it taller off his withers because it brings the bars up off his shoulders and makes the whole saddle taller. Anyway, if the saddle is riding on his withers, a quick fix is to add another saddle pad until you can figure out the fitting problem. I keep a cheap 3/4" felt work pad around the tack room for just that reason.
I have a pad that does that too. It happens to be a cut back pad. I've found the pads that seem to maintain their wither clearance over the course of the ride are the ones that are shaped to slope up where the withers are, if that makes sense. I always make sure to pull the pad up into the channel of the saddle before girthing. Most stay in place.
You mentioned that your saddle fits well with no pad. If that's the case, you're kind of creating the pinching problem simply by using a pad. It's like finding a great fitting pair of shoes but then switch to double thick socks while still wearing the same shoes. Maybe a contoured baby pad would be the way to go with your horse. No bulk, just a sweat barrier for the saddle leather.
It's not that it makes the saddle fit worse, it's just weighing down on the withers (the pad) and putting more pressure on it, it could be because it has no natural curve in it (the pad) and therefor bunches up and sits weird. So you think either a curved pad or a cut-out would be good?
My cut-out always ends up practically cutting into my horse's withers by the end of the ride. I don't know if it's the cutout design or the material the pad is made of. I stopped using it because I hate how it crushes down on him. I think a non-cutback pad with a contour the curves up at the withers would be your best bet. Mine is sheepskin which I think also helps because it doesn't slip out of position.
I don't know that you necessarily need a countoured pad (those I have seen are kinda expensive), just one that is more flexible. I just ordered 2 pads almost exactly like this and I have been very happy with them so far. They are flexible enough to contour to the shape of the back and still have support. I am sure that they probably make the barrel cut pads as well so that you wouldn't have all that extra.
Apache Southwest Saddle Pad: Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com
I kept looking and sure enough, that same company makes barrel pads too if your saddle has those small rounded skirts.
Thanks a lot for the info, I know most people say you should use a cut back, but I don't like the idea of exposing the withers. I'm thinking of trying both and seeing which one works the best, as it's very important for me to have a good fitting saddle and pad when I compete and train!
In my experience, a cutback pad by itself will usually create a bunch of more difficult issues. If I absolutely have to use one, I will use it on top of another pad. That keeps the ridges around the withers from cutting into their back.
I HATE those super thick western pads that are like - inches thick. It is impossible to keep them up off the wither. So many people here use them under stock saddles and I wince every time I see one. they are also so stiff I ahve seen them rub hair off the back at the back edge of the pad.
My pad of choice is a woollen pad - Cool in summer, warm in winter, not too thick but has a bit of padding, and they look schmick. The one's I use aren't 'western' though - they are just your average square pad.
My favourites are RM Williams brand ones as they are just quality through and through and also pretty.
Heres some pics (Two different pads of the same brand) You can see it pulled up into the channel in the closest picture:
The pads I'm looking at aren't even an inch thick, I'm thinking of getting the ortho smx barrel pad by charmayne james. It seems to fit my horses build quite well.
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