Saddle cloth oder saddle pad – what is best for my horse?

Satteldecke für Islandpferde aus Wolle

The choice of saddle pads is large: it ranges from the classic saddle blanket and saddle cloth to saddle pads in all variations, from lambskin pads to anti-slip and gel pads, optionally even with pockets for additional panels. But which pad is the best for my horse? We will introduce you to the different saddle pads and highlight the respective advantages and disadvantages.

Autorin: Karolina Kardel, 360 Grad Pferd

Saddle Pad and Cloth (Schabracke)

Classic saddlecloth made of new wool

The main purpose of a saddle cloth or saddle pad is to protect the saddle from sweat and dirt. For this purpose, it is important that the material the saddle cloth is made of absorbs sweat well and prevents heat from accumulating under the saddle. A sweaty saddle area after riding is quickly the cause of cooling and thus tension in the back muscles. The saddle cloth must not be too tight at the withers or made of such a light material that it wrinkles under the saddle.

Saddlecloths and Pelmet differ in their shape: While a saddle cloth has the shape of a classic saddle, the Pelment is usually rectangular and shows more fabric.

However, pelmets are often too large for our Icelandic horses, and they may prevent a precise whip aid. That is why we have based the design of our saddle cloth on common Icelandic saddles.

Saddle Cloths exist in many different colors and designswith them, you can outfit your horse in a fashionable way and give free rein to your joy of styling.

Saddle cloth vs. saddle pad

In contrast to a saddle blanket, the primary aim of a saddle pad is to protect the horse's back and better distribute the pressure of the saddle. The less pressure the saddle puts on the horse's back muscles, the better. That sounds quite good at first. But do they actually deliver what they promise?

Gel pads

Saddle pads filled with gel feel quite soft and one might think that this is certainly very comfortable for the horse. However, if a saddle is placed on top of the soft gel pad, it is easy for the gel pad to shift and pressure points to develop. In addition, such a pad is usually not really sweat-absorbent and heat accumulates underneath. Also, many saddles slip forward on the pads.

Lambskin pads

Unlike a gel-filled saddle pad, a lambskin pad is sweat-absorbent. If the lambskin is also medically tanned, it has an anti-allergenic effect and is ideal for very sensitive horses.

But a lambskin pad is usually quite bulky. If this is not taken into account when fitting the saddle, the well-intentioned pad does not protect the back, but on the contrary ensures that the saddle that actually fits no longer fits and presses the horse uncomfortably. In the end, a well-intentioned pad can lead to atrophy of important muscles because the saddle presses permanently, as the chamber is too narrow due to the thick pad. It is also possible that the pad is smaller than the contact surface of the saddle and that pressure peaks are created in this way. It is therefore important that you always have your thick saddle pad with you when you have your saddle fitted and that the saddle is fitted according to the pad.

Anti-slip pads

For a long time, it was popular among Icelandic horse riders to ride with a saddle pad made of foam rubber. This pad is placed under the saddle directly on the horse's back to prevent the saddle from sliding forward - hence the name, anti-slip.

The problem with this is that you only need such a pad if you want to conceal a saddle that doesn't fit. In this case, it is better to adjust the saddle instead of using such a solution. Because if the (unsuitable) saddle is pulled forward and prevented from sliding by the pad, the horse's coat will be pulled quite a bit. You can try that out for yourself. In addition, heat accumulates under such a pad and sweat is not absorbed. Be careful, a wet back quickly becomes a cold back with tense muscles!

We are #teamsaddlecloth

We at the Sportsfreund team are big fans of saddle chloths. And for the following reasons:
Saddle pads are only useful for short-term correction Saddle pads are intended to protect the horse's back, but they are not intended for long-term and permanent use and are often only necessary if the saddle does not fit properly or if the pads of the saddle are so hard that the existing pressure damping is not sufficient. They can also be used for correction if the horse's back muscles are not present and need to be built up.
However, we think that first and foremost the saddle needs to be adjusted. A suitable saddle should be the be-all and end-all - after all, we don't go jogging in trainers that are too big or small for us.

Whether gel pad, lambskin or saddlecloth, the saddle must fit so that the rider can sit correctly and the horse's back can work freely. Foto: Juliane Dingel

A saddle pad negatively influences the saddle fit

Thick padding under the saddle always has a negative influence on its fit by reducing the chamber width and - depending on the model - narrowing the vertebral canal. It can also happen that a saddle pad - depending on the size - distributes the pressure, which is normally distributed over the entire contact surface of the saddle, to a smaller contact surface, which is counterproductive for our already short Icelandic horses.

Saddle pad has an influence on our seat and the way we give aid

In addition, the cushioning of the pad also weakens our aids, so that the weight aids given by our rider's seat only arrive spongily. A thick pad also increases the distance between us and the horse's back, which makes it difficult for us to feel whether our horse is really walking over our back and lifting it.

And last but not least, correction pads in particular change our riding position enormously and in the vast majority of cases ensure that we tilt our pelvis and lose our balance and therefore can no longer swing loosely and allow the movement of our horse from the back to the front.

Pro saddle cloth - pro virgin wool

For the sporty look - the light Sportsfreund saddle pad made of wool

That's why we at the Sportsfreund team are such big fans of saddle blankets and have combined all the positive features of a saddle pad with this one. The first Saddle Cloths made of 100% Wool it combines all the positive characteristics of a saddle pad. Indestructible Bavarian loden with a padding of lavalan®, the best wool fleece from domestic production, guarantees a 100% horse-friendly saddle blanket. It absorbs sweat, has an antibacterial effect and ensures a healthy microclimate between saddle and horse. Wool activates blood circulation and has a relaxing effect on muscles and connective tissue.

The anatomical cut ensures a free spinal canal and fits under all common saddles. The anti-slip quilting ensures a secure fit, while the natural material adapts perfectly to any body shape. The voluminous filling has a pressure-relieving and shock-absorbing effect.

With a saddle cloth you can equip your horse in a chic way and express yourself personally through color and design.

Wool is naturally dirt-repellent, so brushing and airing is usually sufficient. If necessary, the blanket can also be machine washed.

In addition, it is - typically Sportsfreund - a real eye-catcher and gives you the opportunity to express yourself fashionably through colour and high-quality material. Click here to so the product.

Produkt. Which saddle pad do you ride with and why? Feel free to leave us a comment!

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Abschwitzdecken von Sportsfreund Studios
Sportsfreund Studios

The Sportsfreund Studios blog contains numerous tips on dealing with horses. From fitness training to the learning behaviour of horses - you can read it all here. The blog is written by Karolina Kardel from 360 Grad Pferd.

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