Saddle pads and blankets in Western riding have come a long way since their humble beginnings as simple blankets folded and placed under the saddle.

Today, there are a variety of different types of saddle pads and blankets designed to provide comfort, support, and protection for both horse and rider. From felt pads to wool blankets, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

But selecting the right saddle pad or blanket is crucial to ensure a comfortable and safe ride. 

Understanding Saddle Pad Anatomy

The anatomy of a saddle pad consists of three main parts: 

The outer layer is typically made of a durable material such as cotton or polyester, while the inner layer is designed to wick away moisture and keep your horse's back cool and dry. The padding material can vary from foam to gel and is responsible for providing shock absorption and cushioning for your horse's back.

It's important to make sure your saddle pad fits correctly and is adjusted to prevent slipping or rubbing. So, next time you're getting ready to saddle up, make sure you pay attention to the details of your saddle pad!

Felt Saddle Pad

Types of Western Saddle Pads

There are a ton of different types of saddle pads out there, but some of the most popular ones for Western riders include the felt pad, wool pad, and gel pad. 

Felt Pads

Felt pads are a classic choice and offer good cushioning and moisture-wicking capabilities. 

Wool Pads

Wool pads are also great at wicking away sweat and are often thicker than felt pads, providing even more cushioning. 

Gel Pads

Gel pads are relatively new to the scene and offer excellent shock absorption but can be a bit pricier. 

When selecting a saddle pad, it's important to consider your riding style and needs. Are you going on long trail rides or competing in barrel racing? Do you need extra cushioning or a non-slip surface? Take some time to research the different types of saddle pads and find the one that works best for you and your trusty steed!

Western Saddle Blanket

Types of Western Saddle Blankets

When it comes to saddle blankets, there are 2 main types to choose from. 

Wool Saddle Blanket

The wool blanket is a classic choice and provides good cushioning and moisture-wicking capabilities. Navajo blankets are known for their vibrant colors and patterns, and offer good cushioning as well. 

Fleece Saddle Blanket

Fleece blankets are a newer option and provide excellent cushioning and warmth, making them great for colder weather. 

Wool Saddle Pad

Fitting and Adjusting Your Saddle Pad or Blanket

It's important to make sure your saddle pad or blanket fits correctly and is adjusted to prevent slipping or rubbing. 

  1. You want to make sure it's positioned correctly on your horse's back, and that there's no excess material bunching up or rubbing in uncomfortable places. 

  2. When adjusting your saddle pad or blanket, make sure it's tight enough to stay in place, but not so tight that it restricts your horse's movement or causes discomfort or injury.

  3. It's also a good idea to check your saddle pad or blanket regularly for signs of wear or damage, such as thinning or tearing, and replace it if necessary. 

With a little bit of attention and care, your saddle pad or blanket can help keep your horse comfortable and happy on all your rides!

Common Saddle Pad and Blanket Problems

Let's talk about some common problems riders may encounter with their saddle pads or blankets. One of the most frustrating issues is slipping or bunching, which can cause discomfort for both you and your horse. 

How To Fix Problems With Saddle Pads and Blankets

Saddle pads and blankets that are slipping, bunching, sweating, chafing, and uneven pressure distribution can cause problems. 

Slipping or Bunching

Excessive Sweating, Chafing, and Uneven Pressure

Other common issues include excessive sweating, chafing, or uneven pressure distribution, which can cause discomfort or injury over time. 

To prevent these issues, make sure you're using a saddle pad or blanket that's appropriate for your riding style and needs, and that it's in good condition and well-maintained. Regular cleaning and inspections can help keep your saddle pad or blanket in top shape.

Maintaining and Caring for Your Saddle Pad or Blanket

Taking care of your saddle pad or blanket is essential to keep it in good condition and ensure your horse's comfort. By taking good care of your saddle pad or blanket, you can prolong its lifespan and keep your horse happy and comfortable on all your rides.

How To Care For Your Saddle Pad or Blanket

Richard Sutherland

Richard is a western lifestyle author for Bits N' Spurs, the weekly newsletter that keeps pace with today's rodeo. His articles are featured on dozens of rodeo and Western related websites and provide a window to the world of cowboy culture.

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