Over recent years, half pads have become a must have accessory to every horse owner. The fluffy wool half pads just look so perfect under a saddle and with all the different colour options out there, they are perfect to compliment your matchy attire. But rather than joining this fashion trend, have you thought about if your horse needs one? Or the consequences of using a half pad when your horse doesn’t need one?
Altered Saddle Fit
The main purpose of a half pad is to alter how the saddle fits on a horse. Now this should never be a solution to make a poor fitting saddle work for a horse. But it can be used for a horse which is changing shape or for a saddle what fits well but could fit better with a pad.
Scottie has a half pad for 2 reasons really. But one of these reasons is he is really picky about saddles. Even a saddle which looks to fit perfectly, he will hunch up and handstand when I get on. Our current saddle fits him well, but it sits quite close to his withers. Despite this, he is very happy in this saddle. So while he is happy in this saddle, my saddler said to use our half pad underneath just to help lift it off the withers slightly.
Cold Backed Horses
Horses who are cold backed often benefit from using a half pad under the saddle. It seems they just appreciate the extra cushioning. This is the second reason why Scottie uses a half pad. He is occasionally very tense through the back when I get on, especially over the winter months. But a half pad seems to really help with this and after his reaction to several perfect fitting saddles, saddlers like to see him in a half pad.
Speak to you saddler first!
If after reading this you think your horse could benefit from a half pad, talk to your saddler first. Half Pads should not be used as a long term solution to a problem. It may be that a back treatment or new saddle might be a better option for your horse.
If they decide your horse could benefit from a half pad, they will also be able to fit your saddle with the half pad. Which is much better for your horse than just trying to the half pad yourself.
Despite Scottie being occasionally unhappy under saddle, his back has never shown us any reason why. Also his reaction to better fitting saddles makes both me and my saddler believe that he is telling us what is comfortable and what isn’t. So if he is happy in our saddle, even if we aren’t 100% happy with the fit, this is better than something which looks like it fits but he doesn’t like!