HILL'S HORSEKEEPING NEWSLETTER
© 2009 Cherry Hill
newsletter is a personal letter from me to you,
a fellow horse owner and
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting
and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.
!! 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,
1 > Page
Saddle Pad Care
© 2009 Cherry Hill ©
Pad on horse, saddle on pad, go.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Page 1 >