Best western pads - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-14-2020, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Best western pads

I'm on the market for a good quality, 1/2 inch felt saddle pad. I currently have a 1 inch 5 star pad that I love, but it'd be nice to have a slightly thinner pad laying around for when the grass is lush and horses gain some weight.

I would shell out the money for another 5 star in a heartbeat, but the floral tooled wear leathers I so desperately want aren't exactly cheap...

The brands I've looked at so far are best ever, impact gel, diamond and tod slone. Are these pads any good?

Incidentally, do the high end pads really offer that much more protection than the cheapo felt pads you can get? I hear lots of people swear by them, hence why my first pad was a 5 star. But I've seen some people use nothing but a extremely thin English baby pad under their western saddles, and they claim to see no ill effect. Not that I'd want to risk using so little padding, but it does make me question whether or not shelling out the bucks for a top of the line pad is worth it.

Any and all suggestions are welcome, thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-14-2020, 11:08 PM
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Most of the time I use just a woven wool blanket. For schooling or hacks of just a few hours. For long days I use a half inch pad.

I don't go with name brands and think there are many good pads available that don't have the marketing behind them to garner the attention some companies enjoy.

Of those you mention, I would avoid gel. Any brand. If you have an area of your saddle that puts more pressure than another, gel just moves away leaving that area unprotected. Gel also holds heat, weakening tissue, increasing the risk of soreness or even tears.
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 01:26 PM
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From when I was working with my saddle fitter, I was always told less is always better and to stick with natural materials.

When I was riding western, I used a 5 star or Diamond Wool pad and really liked them both.

I would never get a gel pad.
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 01:32 PM
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I have a gel pad that I use for show. Never had any problems with it, but I do only use it for showing. I know most people don't like them, but I do.

Regular every-day use, I use a wool pad. I'm with @boots , as long as the quality if there, it could be a no brand name pad. However, I usually get Professional Choice or Diamond Wool pad.
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 01:56 PM
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I have some 5 Stars that I bought second-hand, and I really do love them. But I also have some wool felt (maybe blend) pads in the $80-$100 range as well and I use them pretty interchangeably. I do feel like the 5 Stars hold their compression better than Diamond Wool. I have a really old Diamond Wool and you can tell it's flatter in the areas of the saddle bars. The 5 Stars, which are probably just as old, aren't quite as compressed (in my opinion).

However I do really like Diamond Wool and the pad that is compressed is probably 20 years old, so I probably can't expect them to last forever. But the 5 Star I feel is a little more dense or has more rebound to it.

I have a couple of pads I bought from CAL Ranch, they are CAL Ranch branded, but I have a feeling they are made by Mustang as most of the pads at CAL Ranch are Mustang. Or maybe even Weaver? They carry a lot of Weaver products too, so it's hard to say, but those are a wool blend I think and I like them a lot. They have a lot more density that my Diamond Wools. So I actually think I like those better than my Diamond Wools.

Has anyone ever tried this?

When they first came out, in the Valley Vet catalog I believe, they were being compared to 5 Star at a fraction of the price. Well, I don't know if they used the name 5 Star, but they said they were on par with any other pressed felt pads out there, or something like that. If I NEEDED another pad I would try one. But I have a whole stack of pads, hoarder that I am, so I have resisted the urge. But I would be curious what other people thought of them. The felt in the picture has that curious way of wrinkling in the same way the 5 Star pads do.

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post #6 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 02:10 PM
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I have a couple of 5 star pads, one best ever pad, and have had diamond wool. I do like the five star the best. Best ever are comparable but I like the curve of the 5 star better. Still best ever's are good pads. The diamond wool pads just don't hold up as well.

A new diamond wool pad is fine but don't expect it to last you as long as the five star or best ever.

I also have a 1 inch and it's not as versatile. My favorite is my 3/4 inch pad. The 7/8th is a little too thick as well and the half inch is a little thin for my use. It would be nice to have several to go with the horses change of weight, but yeah, it could get expensive.

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Last edited by LoriF; 09-15-2020 at 02:17 PM.
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post #7 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 02:12 PM
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Regarding Impact Gel. I have a couple of those too and I always felt their strongest quality was their felt. I like their felt!

But I don't think the gel itself makes a noticeable difference to just a plain good quality felt pad. As a matter of fact, I tend not to use them because they are heavier than plain felt. And since I am also heavy, I just feel like my poor horse doesn't need the extra weight of a heavier pad when I think the plain felt is just as good.

So I wouldn't buy one for the gel. BUT, they have really nice felt and if I got a lighter weight saddle, lost weight myself, or got a bigger horse, there is no reason I wouldn't use them.

I do also worry a little bit about the gel making them sweat more but the gel sections are smaller than the actual pad size. You can see them in there and they pretty much cover just the saddle bar area and not the whole pad. So I think you would still have decent air circulation.

I also use a wool Mayatex blanket under my pads because they are easier to wash (and pretty!) so I use them as sweat blankets UNDER the pad itself. I also have different thicknesses of blankets and pads so I can tweak the fit if I need to.

What I don't like is the old Professional's Choice pads I have. They are basically a big piece of exercise mat inside the layers of the pad and I DO think they create extra sweating and don't have as much protection as a good felt pad does. So I would never go that direction again.

It probably also depends on how you use your horse. I live in Arizona so summers are hot and I like to trail ride for 2-3 hours at a time, so I think about heat and horse's sweating. If someone lived in a cooler climate or only rode around for a short time they would probably be fine. I sometimes see videos of trainers using them, so they must feel they are okay, but I personally think they are overpriced exercise mats that make the horses drip sweat! I generally avoid any type of foam or neoprene in my tack and that goes for cinches too!

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post #8 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 02:14 PM
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Trailhorserider, That looks like a really nice pad. They have really overpriced the saddle pads with big names and advertising. I am glad that you pointed out this pad as it is one that I would order. You can check it out, and you can send it back if it is not to your liking. But it looks great!

I looked at a saddle pad that they wanted close to $250. Horse products are one of the highest marked up goods that are produced. I want something that is good for my horse, but I don't want to suffer financially to get it.

Last edited by Rudytoot; 09-15-2020 at 02:17 PM. Reason: Forgot to add person's name
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
No but it looks like the Pro Choice pad I'm currently using (which I got at a store closing sale for about $70) & I like it. For the price, I wouldn't be adverse to trying the one in your link, @trailhorserider .
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-15-2020, 03:59 PM
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I personally don’t tend to go for name brand, I’d love one but budget friendly is my game haha. I currently have a cactus equine, some no name 28 x28 and just ordered a Teskey’s Wool and felt contoured 1/2” pad.
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