Saddle Pad Care

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Tack Care
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Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac
Stablekeeping
Horse Tack Care and Cleaning by Cherry Hill
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill

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CHERRY HILL'S HORSEKEEPING NEWSLETTER
May 2009

  2009 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you,
a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories
and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.

Horse skin check

Yippee !! Spring has sprung and riding season is upon us. This time of year as you are getting your horses back into shape, you'll likely be going through many wet saddle blankets, right? Right !

Be sure to take care of this important piece of tack. Have a great ride,


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Saddle Pad Care
  2009 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

 

Pad on horse, saddle on pad, go.

No.

Like other tack tactics, with blankets and pads, a little knowledge and care goes a long way toward your horse's comfort and the longevity of your equipment.

Tip #1

Make sure your saddle fits your horse. Unfortunately, most people get a saddle to fit them, not their horse. If your saddle doesn't fit your horse you should change the saddle or the horse.

It's a bad idea to expect a pad to make an ill-fitting saddle work. One way to check fit is to take a close look at your blanket and your horse's back after a good workout. If the blanket has a dry channel from withers to loin and a symmetric imprint of the saddle's bars in the form of horse hair and sweat, and there's a corresponding smooth, wet pattern on the horse's back, things are looking good.

Dry, clean places on the saddle bar area of the blanket or the horse can indicate poor fit - either there was no contact, or too much pressure. Isolated spots of ruffled hair can mean the saddle and/or pad are rockin' and rollin' rather than keeping even contact with the back. Uneven pressure points caused by a poorly fitted saddle can be exaggerated by the wrong pad. A good pad will probably not make things worse but you shouldn't count on it to correct a poor fitting saddle. If you are not experienced enough to know if your saddle fits, find someone who can help you.

Tip #2

Use only as much pad as you need. If a saddle has bars set too wide for the horse, you might get by for a short ride or two by using more, or thicker, blankets and pads. But, if the saddle has the correct width of bars, yet the bars are set too steep, or if the fork is too narrow or the gullet is too low, don't try to make the saddle work by adding a mountain of material under it. The more pads and/or blankets you use, the more unstable the saddle will be, the tighter you have to cinch, and the hotter and more uncomfortable the horse will be.

Just as important as the thickness of a blanket/pad is its size in relation to your saddle. You need a couple inches of pad in front of the saddle and a couple of inches behind the saddle, so the saddle doesn't sit right on the ridge or edge of the pad where it can press down and sore a horse.

If you ride Arabians, Morgans, or short-backed Quarter Horse types, you might not be able to use standard-sized square pads. If the back edge of the pad ends up right in front of, or on top of, the hip bones it can make your horse raw and sore in a hurry! Shop around for shorter square pads or rounded pads.

Tip # 3

Keep it clean. You can have the best fitting saddle and pad in the world, yet get in big trouble if you don't have a clean surface on the horse's back. This means having both a clean pad and a clean horse. Check the pad or blanket for hard spots, dried sweat, dirt, sand, matted hair, burs, twigs, and other foreign objects. Also, be sure to groom your horse's back and cinch area thoroughly because dirt and sand imbedded in the horse's coat can work loose during a ride to irritate and rub a horse raw. Matted hair collecting on a pad can make it slip and should be removed by brushing or vacuuming before each use.

Tip #4

Place pad in proper position. Whatever saddle/pad combination you use, be sure it lays smoothly against the horse's back and stays in place. Thin materials especially can wrinkle or bunch up beneath the saddle and sore the horse badly. Some pads might slip when they are new and others are so stiff that they need to be broken in over several rides before they fit easily to the contour of your horse. A blanket or pad that consistently slips out of position usually signals problems with pad material, saddle fit, or cinching. Be sure you're using a thick enough blanket and that the saddle fits and is cinched snugly. You might consider using a rear cinch and breast collar if you're not already doing so.

For persistent pad migration, you could attach strings or strips of Velcro to the front of the pad and fasten them to the breast collar D rings on the saddle.

It's extremely important that a blanket and/or pad be "peaked" or pulled up into the gullet of the saddle before tightening the cinch. This prevents the pad or blanket from pressing down on the withers, helps keep the saddle from rolling from side to side, and aids in cooling the horse's back.

With pads that have panels of padding on the sides, make sure the center of the pad is at the top of the peak to keep the padding even on the withers and all along the back. Pads that are so thick and/or inflexible that they are difficult to impossible to peak, or won't stay peaked, end up putting pressure on the withers and should be avoided.

Pads that are cut out or cut back over the withers should be monitored closely to ensure the edges of the cutout are not rubbing the withers. Cut-out pads also need to be peaked in the gullet.

Check when snugging up the cinch after a warm-up, and while riding to be sure that the pad or blanket hasn't flattened out onto the horse's withers - always maintain a peak! You should always be able to slip your hand under the blanket or pad and touch your horse's withers.

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  2009 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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  2009 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

The information contained on this site is provided for general informational and educational purposes only.
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