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The Ultimate Guide to English Saddle Pads: Types Factors and Tips

English Saddle Pads: Types, Factors to Consider, and More

Saddle pads are an essential accessory for any English rider. They offer a buffer between the horse’s back and the saddle to protect against rubbing, sweating, and pressure points.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of English saddle pads, the factors to consider when choosing a suitable one, and some additional tips to keep in mind.

Types of English Saddle Pads

Square/Rectangular Pads

Square or rectangular pads are the most common type of English saddle pad. They come in various sizes and shapes to fit different saddles.

These pads are typically quilted, with a cotton or polyester outer layer and a foam or wool filling for cushioning. The quilting pattern can be plain or intricate, depending on your preference.

Rectangular saddle pads are ideal for daily use or schooling and come in a range of colors and designs to match your outfit or saddle. They are also affordable and easy to maintain, making them a go-to option for many riders.

Shaped/Contoured Pads

Shaped or contoured saddle pads are designed to fit the shape of your horse’s back. They are tailored to provide better support and alignment to the saddle, reducing the risk of slippage or discomfort.

These pads are particularly useful for horses with high withers, curved backs, or sensitive skin. Contoured pads are available in various styles, including dressage and jumping pads.

Dressage pads are longer and straighter, while jumping pads are shorter and rounded to accommodate the forward motion. Both options provide ample cushioning and allow for a close contact feel for the rider.

Specialty Pads (Including Half Pads)

Specialty pads serve a specific function to address various issues with saddle fit or horse comfort. Half pads, for instance, are designed to sit underneath a regular saddle pad and provide extra cushioning or support where needed.

They are particularly useful for horses with uneven or poorly developed muscles. The correctional half pad, another type of specialty pad, is designed to correct saddle fit problems by filling in any gaps between the horse’s back and the saddle.

It helps distribute the pressure evenly and alleviates any discomfort for the horse. Gel pads, on the other hand, offer an excellent shock-absorbing quality and help reduce concussion on the horse’s back.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an English Saddle Pad


Your discipline determines the type of saddle pad that would suit you and your horse best. Dressage riders, for instance, would require a pad that offers ample cushioning and spine support, while jumping riders would benefit from a pad that allows for better freedom of movement.

Showing vs. Schooling

If you’re planning to compete, you might want to invest in a more sophisticated pad that complements your horse show outfit or matches your saddle’s color.

For schooling, however, you could opt for an affordable and straightforward pad that gets the job done.


The material of the saddle pad affects its durability, breathability, and moisture-wicking ability. Wool saddle pads are excellent at regulating temperature, while fleece pads provide more cushioning and softness.

Cotton pads are breathable and absorbent, making them an ideal choice for hot and humid climates. Synthetic materials, such as polyester, are becoming increasingly popular due to their lightweight and easy-to-clean qualities.


When choosing a saddle pad, consider your horse’s conformation and any issues they may have. For example, horses with high withers require pads with wither relief to prevent rubbing and discomfort.

Similarly, overweight or underweight horses might benefit from a therapeutic saddle pad that redistributes pressure and weight evenly.

Horse Conformation

Your horse’s body shape and size also play a crucial role in determining the right saddle pad for them. A pad that is too small or too large could cause rubbing or shifting, leading to discomfort or injury.

Take measurements of your horse’s back length, wither height, and overall shape to ensure a proper fit.


In summary, selecting the right English saddle pad is a critical aspect of English riding. Take your time to evaluate the different types of pads available and consider the factors outlined above before making a purchase.

Remember to measure your horse correctly and choose a material that suits their needs. With the right saddle pad, you and your horse can enjoy a comfortable and enjoyable ride, no matter the discipline or occasion.

3) All-Purpose Saddle Pad

An all-purpose saddle pad is a versatile option for English riders. As the name suggests, these pads can be used for both jumping and dressage disciplines and feature a rectangular quilted design with billet and girth straps for secure fitting.

They come in various sizes and colors and can be customized with barn colors or logos.

Features of All-Purpose Saddle Pads

Moisture-Wicking Saddle Pad

All-purpose saddle pads often feature a moisture-wicking technology to keep your horse dry and comfortable during extended periods of riding. The inner lining is made of materials like bamboo, cotton, or synthetic fabrics that wick away sweat, minimizing the chance of chafing or irritation.

Foam or Gel Inserts

Foam or gel inserts can be added to all-purpose saddle pads to provide additional cushioning. The inserts fit into pockets inside the pad, providing targeted support where your horse needs it most.

The foam or gel also helps distribute pressure more evenly and reduces the risk of soreness or injury.

Dressage Saddle Pad

If you primarily ride dressage, you might consider investing in a rectangular dressage saddle pad. These pads are longer and straighter than all-purpose pads, giving them a more traditional and streamlined look.

They usually come in white or black to meet dressage specifications, and you can customize them with your barn colors or logo. Features of

Dressage Saddle Pads

Barn Colors or Logo

Dressage saddle pads are an excellent way to showcase your barn colors or logo.

Whether you’re competing or schooling, a custom pad that coordinates with your outfit can help you and your horse stand out in the arena.

4) Shaped or

Contoured Saddle Pad

A shaped or contoured saddle pad is designed to fit the shape of your horse’s back, ensuring better support and comfort. These pads have a more tailored and fitted design, with a border of fluffy fleece for added softness.

They are available in various styles, including jumping and dressage pads, and can be customized to fit your preferences.

Features of Shaped or

Contoured Saddle Pads

Pockets for Foam Inserts

Shaped or contoured saddle pads often have pockets where you can insert foam panels or gel pads for added cushioning. These pockets are usually located in the front and back of the pad, providing targeted support to the shoulders and lower back.

Some pads even come with removable inserts, allowing you to adjust the cushioning level to meet your horse’s needs.

Hot Weather Saddle Pad

Shaped or contoured saddle pads are also available in a hot weather version, made of lightweight and breathable materials. These pads are designed to keep your horse cool and dry in humid and sweltering conditions, preventing overheating and dehydration.

The pads usually have mesh or perforated panels that allow air to circulate freely, promoting optimal comfort and ventilation.


Both all-purpose and shaped or contoured saddle pads are excellent options for English riders, depending on your needs and preferences. All-purpose pads offer versatility and customization options, while shaped or contoured pads provide better support and comfort tailored to your horse’s conformation.

Whether you’re jumping, dressage riding, or trail riding, there’s a saddle pad out there that will meet your needs and enhance your riding experience.

5) Correctional Half Pad

A correctional half pad is a saddle pad that fills the gap between the saddle and the horse’s back, providing extra cushioning and support where needed. These pads typically come in two designs: half-length and full saddle pads.

Both options are made with high-density foam or gel inserts that offer exceptional shock absorption and pressure relief. Half-length correctional pads are ideal for horses with mild to moderate back problems.

The pads sit between the saddle and the existing saddle pad, offering targeted support to the withers or spine. Full saddle pads, on the other hand, are designed for horses with severe back issues and provide full-back support, enhancing the distribution of weight across the horse’s back.

Features of Correctional Half Pads

Removable Foam Inserts

Correctional half pads often come with removable foam inserts that allow you to adjust the cushioning level according to your horse’s needs. You can easily remove or replace the foam inserts as necessary, ensuring your horse gets the optimal support level to maintain their comfort and health.

Support for Withers and Spine

Correctional half pads also provide targeted support to the horse’s withers and spine, preventing rubbing, soreness and injury. The pad helps fill the gap between the saddle and the horse’s back, enabling even pressure distribution, supporting the horse’s conformation, and making riding more comfortable.

6) Riser Pad

A riser pad is a lightweight foam pad that goes underneath the regular saddle pad to correct the saddle’s tilt and balance. These pads are perfect for horses with uneven muscle development or saddle fit issues.

The pad elevates the saddle’s front or back end, depending on the need, creating a more level surface for the rider to sit and preventing the horse’s discomfort.

Features of Riser Pads

Shock Absorption

Riser pads are made of lightweight, high-density foam material that absorbs shock and distributes pressure evenly, minimizing the risk of soreness and injury. The pad effectively lessens the impact of rider weight on the horse’s back, reducing the shock caused by movement or contact with obstacles.

Lifted Saddle

Riser pads lift the saddle to create a level riding surface for the rider, preventing excess pressure on the horses’ spine and muscles. The gentle adjustment and leveling help improve saddle fit and enhance overall comfort and safety for both horse and rider.


Saddle pads play a vital role in distributing the rider’s weight and minimizing the risk of rubbing and soreness on your horse’s back. They come in various styles and designs, with different features to cater to your horse’s needs and your ride preferences.

Whether you’re looking for a correctional half pad to provide extra cushioning and support or a riser pad to correct the saddle’s tilt, there’s a saddle pad out there that will enhance your horse’s comfort and performance.

7) Anti-Slip Pad

An anti-slip pad, also known as a silicone pad, is a thin, flexible layer that sits between the saddle and the horse’s back, preventing slippage and providing added cushioning and support. These pads are made of clear silicone, which conforms to the horse’s shape, preventing the saddle from moving around during riding.

Features of Anti-Slip Pads

Clear Silicone Pad

Anti-slip pads are made of clear silicone materials that offer optimal grip and stability without being visible or bulky under the saddle pad. The silicone material creates a non-slip surface that holds the saddle in place, providing a safe and comfortable ride.

Competition Saddle Pad

Anti-slip pads are an excellent choice for competitive riders who require maximum stability and control in the saddle. These pads are designed to provide added hold and support, allowing you to focus on your ride without worrying about slipping or discomfort.

8) Gel Saddle Pad

A gel saddle pad is an advanced, high-performance cushioning pad designed to provide added comfort and support to your horse’s back. These pads are made of silicone gel, which conforms to the horse’s shape, reducing pressure points and absorbing shock caused by movement.

Features of Gel Saddle Pads

Silicone Gel Saddle Pad

Gel saddle pads are made of soft, pliable silicone gel material, which conforms to the horse’s body shape, creating a custom fit for maximum comfort and performance. The gel material offers an excellent shock-absorbing quality, providing added cushioning with every ride.

Contoured Saddle Pad

Gel saddle pads are typically designed with a contoured shape that conforms to the horse’s back, preventing slippage and ensuring even pressure distribution. The pad’s contoured shape provides maximum coverage, reducing the risk of pressure points and rubbing.

Pressure Point Relief

Gel saddle pads also help relieve pressure points on the horse’s back, providing soreness relief and preventing long-term damage. As the horse moves, the gel material adjusts to distribute pressure evenly across the horse’s back, reducing the risk of discomfort and injury.


Anti-slip pads and gel saddle pads are excellent options for riders looking to provide added cushioning, support, and stability to their horse’s back. Whether you are a competitive rider or merely trail riding, there is a pad out there that will meet your needs and enhance your horse’s comfort and performance.

Be sure to take into consideration your horse’s conformation, riding discipline, and comfort level when choosing a saddle pad to ensure the best fit and ride possible.

9) Endurance Saddle Pad

Endurance riding involves long-distance rides over various types of terrain, which requires a robust and durable saddle pad. An endurance saddle pad is designed with durability in mind, using high-quality materials that can withstand the harsh conditions of endurance riding.

Features of Endurance Saddle Pads

Tough Saddle Pad

Endurance saddle pads are made of tough and durable materials that provide optimal shock absorption and cushioning. These pads ensure that your horse stays comfortable and protected from any discomfort during extended periods of riding.

The rugged material also prevents any wear and tear, increasing their lifespan. Durable


Endurance saddle pads usually feature durable materials such as high-quality closed-cell foam or neoprene.

These materials are designed to be long-lasting, provide shock absorption and offer support for the horse’s back, reducing the risk of soreness and injury.

Quick Drying

Endurance saddle pads are designed to be quick-drying so that your horse stays dry and comfortable during long rides. The fast-drying ability of these pads helps reduce the risk of chafing or irritation, ensuring that your horse stays healthy and happy throughout the ride.

10) Trail Riding Pad

Trail riding is a popular activity for many horse riders and requires a specialized saddle pad that offers comfort, shock support, and durability. A trail riding pad is designed specifically for this activity, offering features that cater to the needs of both horse and rider.

Features of Trail Riding Pads

Neoprene Saddle Pad

Trail riding pads are commonly made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber material that is rugged and durable. Neoprene provides excellent shock absorption, reducing the impact on the horse’s back during long rides.

The material is also easy to clean, making it ideal for trail rides that can get dusty or muddy.

Shock Support

Trail riding pads offer optimal shock support to the horse’s back, minimizing the risk of soreness, chafing, and other discomfort. The pads use high-quality closed-cell foam or gel inserts that provide added cushioning, ensuring that your horse stays comfortable throughout the ride.

Saddlebag Pockets

Trail riding pads often come with saddlebag pockets that allow you to carry food, water, and other essentials for both you and your horse. These pockets can be attached to the pad, providing you with easy access to your essentials without having to stop and unpack.


Trail riding and endurance riding demand a saddle pad that provides superior comfort, support, and durability. Whether you choose a neoprene saddle pad for optimal shock support or an endurance saddle pad for durability, there

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