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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for a new Western pad, and I'm leaning toward Impact Gel, but I saw some great reviews for Lami-Cell pads. Has anyone used either brand? I currently use a 1-inch wool felt Diamond pad, but I'm getting him a custom saddle and want a shock-absorbing pad that won't mess with the custom tree's perfect fit.
 

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If you ride for extended periods of time, or less time in hot weather, I do not recommend gel pads

Gel holds heat. Thermal mapping, done by independent researchers (rare these days as even most university studies are funded by industry stake holders) shows a significant increase in temperature on the horses' backs.

Increased and extended warming of soft tissue increases to risk of soft tissue damage. Same reason why horse boots and polo wraps shouldn't be used for long periods.

I completely agree with using a thinner pad on a well-fitting saddle. I'm a big fan of wool for it's breathability, it dries quickly, cleans easily.
 

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I too would not do gel nor neoprene pads.
You have a excellent pad in that wool pad now...
If the saddle is such a great fit then you don't need what the gel pad is supposed to do...fill in voids and compensate for poor fit in areas of deficit, offer cushioning to the spine where the saddle does not do its job...
I would stay with that wool pad or if you need a thinner pad because the saddle fits incredibly well, then would be looking for a quality wool blanket or thin{ner} pad to place underneath but nope no way no how would I do gel or neoprene on my horses...just would not.


The idea of using a pad is to absorb moisture, offer cooling.... how do you do that when you are encasing the back in what equates to saran wrap. :|
Wrap your leg fresh from the shower in saran wrap and tell me how it feels after going for a walk...:frown_color:
Yeah, just no.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I think @bsms uses the lami-cells. Maybe he can give some critiques on it.
 

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Don't know if I ever used a Lami-Cell pad. I briefly used a neoprene pad and my horse had sweat running down her legs, so it was turned into a dog bed!

I did try using Wintec closed cell pads underneath my Australian saddle. Didn't like it. I later cut one in half and used the front half as a shim because my Australian saddle was too wide at the front. It worked fine as a shim:


I went western maybe 6-7 years ago. We use wool felt pads - maybe a LITTLE for "shock absorption" but 95% for "sweat absorption".




The 1" pad has worn down to perhaps 1/2" under the saddle. I cannot speak to how it would work under an English or even Australian saddle now, but it works fine with Bandit.

IMHO, pads and saddles are not about "shock absorption". They are about "shock spreading" - moving the total impact over a larger area to reduce the PSI at any given spot. It is my job as a rider to move in a way that reduces shock, either by rolling with the motion of the canter or using my legs and two-point to reduce peak impact at a trot.

A properly designed saddle, properly fitted, will spread the total pressure out over as much area as possible for that style of saddle. A pad good at handling sweat and minimizing heat then protects the horse's back from heat and friction. Shock MINIMIZATION is MY responsibility because IMHO neither the saddle nor the pad will absorb shock.

FWIW, the leather saddle is both wider and longer at the back than the Abetta. It helps with protecting his loin, particularly when climbing up a steep grade. However, the Abetta is easier to ride in a spook because a slick saddle is SLICK. And the only place I see a significant difference is scrambling out of a wash. See no difference at a trot / canter / gallop. Since Bandit still has some tense days and since I often ride without a helmet, I've gone back again to the Abetta. I think that experience reinforces the idea that saddles are about distributing pressure, not absorbing it. The leather one can spread it over more area but neither provides a cushion for the horse.
 

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I use the wool felt as well. I did use the neoprenes for a while and do have several of them. They just aren't all that to me. I have a neoprene girth but my goal is to get the shoulder relief wool one.
 

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The horse that I rode on the Chief Joseph Trail ride, averaging 20 miles a day, used an Impact Gel pad, something like this one:





It has a wool blend against the skin.
 

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I have some older Impact Gels and they are nice pads but I rarely ever use them. 1. Because it's Arizona and the horses sweat a lot as it is and 2. They are heavier than a regular wool pad. Since I am a heavy rider, my horses don't need the extra weight either. The nicest thing about Impact Gel, in my opinion, is the felt. I like the felt but don't feel like the gel is of any benefit. I am a trail rider, for whatever that's worth. I am out there for hours at a time.



If you are dying for a brand new pad, for your brand new saddle, and have lots of money to spend, I recommend 5 Star wood pads. You can get just about any size and thickness you want and they are really, really good, long lasting pads. They don't compress as much over time as the Diamond Wool pads (which I also have one of). I got my 5 Stars second hand, because they are pretty pricey, but if I could just buy whatever I wanted, I would buy 5 Star pads. :cool:
 

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Another wonderful wool felt pad is the pads from Bad Dog Ranch in Canada. The exchange rate is killer right now, and they will even customize the length and width of your pad. The prices are Canadian on the site so just plug in the current exchange rate (it's like 74 cents CAN to the USD). You can get 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 inch thickness depending on what you need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, all! You're right, it's really not "shock absorption" I need. I don't do anything shocking ;) It's more *weight distribution* I'm worried about, which is why I'm having a custom saddle made in the first place. I'm a very quiet rider despite being heavy, and the vast majority of what we do is meandering around in the woods. If I did get a gel pad, I was definitely going to get one with a wool bottom, but I think I'll take your advice and stick with a wool pad.

Since I'll probably be getting a new one anyway because my new saddle has a butterfly skirt and my current pad is huge and square, would you recommend staying with the 1-inch? I've read on some saddle sites that if you have a well-fitting saddle you should actually use a thinner pad, 1/2- or 3/4-inch. Any idea if this is true? I think the Circle Y site is where I first read that and found it a couple of other places, too, but I've been obsessing over choosing a saddle for months, so who knows what I've read at this point.

My new saddle will be an Allegany Mountain Trail, by the way. They'll be using a custom Steele tree. I hope it's amazing!
 

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My personal opinion is wait till your saddle arrives before you do anything further about choosing a pad thickness.
If this is truly a custom saddle with that "custom" tree then you should need little extra cause the saddle should fit like a glove.
Investing in the wrong thickness pad could be a waste of your money when you guess wrong it can upset the good fit you just paid so much money to achieve.. :|
Wait... wait till the saddle arrives then decide.

In the meantime you can find the manufacturer, the style, colors or design you want...just wait till the saddle arrives to decide on that thickness.
:runninghorse2:...
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks! It is an actual custom tree, so unless something goes wrong, it should fit him very well. But I will wait until it comes to get the pad and see how it looks and what my trainer thinks of the saddle.
 
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