Friday, September 25, 2009

Gotta go with what ya know...

The subject of what is best for our horses back has brought up a few things for discussion. One of them being saddle pads. There are about as many different types, brands and materials being used to make them as anyone would care to imagine.

But one of the best pad manufacturers I have found yet, hands down, is 5 Star. Give this article on their website a read and then ask yourself, which pad would I want on MY back, if things were the other way around?

The beauty in the 5 star pads, is they are made from natural fibers for one, they allow moisture to be wicked away from the horses back, the wool has a higher compression rating and tensile strength and they have nailed down the most honest part of all- if the saddle doesn't fit, extra padding is just a cover-up or temporary fix, but the problem still remains.

And they do make a line of English pads for hunter, jumper, dressage, walking horse and jockey saddles. By 'walking horse' I am guessing they mean all gaited breeds or maybe they are referring to saddleseat perhaps?

The only thing I question about the pads, is the leather strip alone the top, where the horses spine is. I question how much breath ability the leather allows or prohibits. On the English version, with the pad pushed up into the gullet area of the saddle- this is relatively not an issue. Western saddles don't often offer much room for this though. Add the thickness of what most western pads come in and this might raise a few eyebrows.

Now some may argue that their pads are expensive. And sure, a couple hundred dollars for a pad can be viewed that way. In comparison shopping though, plenty of others are around the same price, some costing even more, yet providing you with less. The main question is, how much value do you place on the comfort of your horse? What is that worth to you?

Consider how much use your pad will get, how easy it is to care for, how long it will last and what level of comfort and relief it provides. Divide the price by all of that and you may find, the the initial cost is actually pretty reasonable.

Wanna do the math? I have seen the pads for sale for anywhere around $189-$240. If I ride 3 times a week for one year- that is 156 rides. Divide $240 by 156 and you get around $1.54 per ride. So $4.62 per week or $18.48 per month. That is just for one year. I know a few of us have pads that have lasted longer than that.

By the way, 5 Star is stating their pads last 1500-2000 rides or uses. At the 3 rides per week average- the pad should last you a little over 9.5 YEARS! Just to reach the 1500 ride/use mark. Go with the 2000 ride/use claim and you are looking at 12.8 YEARS of use! I think the pad would have easily, more than paid for itself by then. You may have changed the 'color' you like a few times over those years.

If you wish to take it one step further- how much will you save, by buying a cheap pad that doesn't hold up? One that you have to keep replacing? How frequently does it need to be replaced, and over time, what has that cost you? Better yet- what has that cost your horse?


  1. This is so funny. I used to be that "cheap" shopper. My husband showed me the error of that thinking in certain products. I would have to agree with the more expensive pad is worth the investment. I always wondered why you'd "skimp" on certain things. Feed, Vet, farrier etc. I just don't get it. Now my mom is using the same bridle 23 yrs later and hey that works. But we bought a used English Arabian saddle for our QH. Rode him in that for YEARS!! Then my Mom went and got a Wintec..never even thought of saddle fit; bought it b/c it was easy to clean. I just can't believe that horse is still alive or better yet any of us are still alive.

    I'm looking at investing in a gel pad and the sheepskin wither pad for an Irish Draught gelding. The other thing (yes I'm rambling) is often do you check your pad fit etc? As you bring the horse up in fitness the topline will change. so how often do you check it? I recently was embarassed b/c a REAL trainer asked if I was lazy or just didn't know that "when you hose a horse off you should scrub with your hand or a brush the saddle marks". I was mortified. The trainer was very nice about it but really it was a holy crap moment.

  2. Those look like AWESOME pads. Wow.

    Of course, back in the olden days (before my time), English horses didn't even USE pads. Ouch! Or maybe people just assumed that a horseman knew enough to get a saddle that fit. I have no idea.

    "As you bring the horse up in fitness the topline will change" I NEVER thought about that. Wow.

    I rode for 2 weeks at an old-fashioned cavalry-style camp (Culver Military Academy if you care) in about 1985 or 6, and only the MOST ADVANCED students used snaffle bridles. The rest of us - including kids who'd never touched a horse before - had to use FULL bridles. That sucked beyond compare.

    Anyhooo, they didn't use saddle pads, but rather Army-style wool blankets that you folded in a certain way, and after you rode, you unfolded it and laid it over the saddle to dry.

    I know a lot more now than I did then.... wish I could go back in time and check out those schoolies' backs.

    It looks like their program has modernized (GOOD!!!), but I will always remember the wool blankets.

  3. Cattypex: We (Midwesterners) used the military wool blankets as cooler sheets. They are the best for cooling your horse down in the winter! Nevver thought of using them as saddle pads! Hmmmm....

  4. Well, that place was pretty scary.... the horses were donated scarecrows (they all h ad to be black, you see, and of a somewhat uniform size, for their "famous" Black Horse Troupe.") Poor things.....

    (I always wanted one of those Hudson Bay Blankets, AND a coat made out of one.)

    But a folded blanket isn't the greatest idea... I always end up with wrinkles inside....

  5. nice to read that they are not saying that the ir pad will solve a bad fit ! good rule of thumb as you use ytou pad is to inspect it thouroughly every ride so it can be replaced before it causes an issue, a tiny tear or threadbare spot can make a huge difference to your horse

  6. C3D- that is the truth. As a horse builds up or loses muscle tone- a lot can change! Not limited to the topline though. But the topline and their back is a huge part of saddle fit.

    As I said before, with my mare, and all of our horses, including client horses, we check their backs for soreness before and after every ride. While lunging the horses- pre ride, we are letting them get the bugs out and loosen up, but also watching for any lameness, soreness, shortness of stride and any issues that may affect the outcome of the ride. Maybe I should do a post on just that- How to check?

    And I agree with FV that Hooray! They aren't trying to hide or cover up poor saddle fit. Another good thing to point out about them!

  7. CP- I am glad to hear you are learning a lot! I just hope I am helping to contribute through this and the various other blogs we frequent.

    I think I just may have to post about How to check the back for soreness. As I have said before, in the big name farms I was at- NONE of the trainers showed any of us how to do it and they never checked either! Quite simple, but many times never done.

  8. I'd like the info on how to check. The reason is I'm curious about my friend Apx QH. He's definately changed body shapes all over. You are correct CNJ...more then just the top line changes. She had a saddle custom made for him and he was what they call in his "Brood Gelding" phase. Now he's pure muscle. I also have an Irish Draught coming in on Thurs that once I can get back in the saddle am going to start leasing. In talking to the RID's owner..he takes a wide tree..However he hasn't been consistantly ridden in over 9 mos. Wondering what change will be happening. Maybe I'll take pictures of his body and I can document the changes. Sorry about the babble. Essentially...yes CNJ give the "how to" on checking the back
    CP--I always got wrinkled side too

  9. C3D- look how long it took me to get useable pictures of my mares now bald butt, and I have yet to post them on the subject of tail rubbing and skin fungus...

    Now you want more pictures and info on how to check a back for soreness? lol

    Yes drill sargeant!

    Pictures to follow the changes would be excellent. Watch the horse going from flab to fab is always fun.

  10. As far as the discussion on folded pads and wrinkles goes- how about the added padding in the shoulder areas- built up pads.

    The edge of the extra padding has a line which creates a ridge and surely can be felt by the horse to some degree. Wonder how many of those are sold to mask the problem of a saddle that simply doesn't fit?

  11. do you need some "love" juice? I'm sure you can call that CL ad. I think I'll start a blog w/pics of Finn.

    And's not like you have a life or anything. Just post the pictures!

  12. You are such a butthead Cut!

    "all the me me me talk" lol
    yes it was me and no , I don't want to hear your comments about how i look the hideous shirt or anything else. It was the longest hottest day EV ER.

    Love ya mememe
    Sassysmom - Deb

  13. Now now can't all be about you(me..CNJ) know she needs "time" (snark) to get all this together. I mean it takes LIKE HOURS to upload pictures and post them. So days I think the twins are the ones posting!!!

    Now let's all play like small children in one sand box

  14. I don't know how anybody with twins can do anything but curl up in the fetal position , rock back and forth and weep.
    Total credit to her to take the time to write this blog and all the other stuff. Must be the Dr Pepper!

    . I have one of those Saddle fitting kits by Synergist. Works great.

  15. Sass..maybe that's the real reason she hasn't posted any of the "pictures". She's too busy rocking and trying to find her "happy place". Ha ha ha.

  16. My sister's got twins, and those girls are NUTSO SHITSO CRAZY! (they will be 4 soon.)

    I've never seen anything like it, when I throw my own 4 yr old into the mix. Somehow they always end up naked......

  17. So, how DO you check for a sore back, beyond gentle poking in suspicious areas?

    I know that when my back is really messed up from too much sitting, sleeping wrong etc., if I hit a bad spot with my finger, it feels like a skin sore.... almost like there's a rug burn right under the skin.

  18. I was actually going to post the pic's last night, but wound up cooking dinner, then working on the 3-in-1 sheet last night. All that's left is sewing the straps and D rings on. I should have it done this week, then 'Lil Bits mask in the mail by the weekend and on to the next project...

    We may be doing photo's of the 3-in-1 this weekend, and yes, I will shoot them off to folks when they are ready to be seen.

    When I do post a lot of these, it's while I am here at the 9-5. I'm lucky enough to get some time to find pictures to go with the topic and type it all out.

    The past few days though, I have been researching the companies that manufacture the fabrics and materials I have been using to make the products we will be offering. So far I have found a lot of things that are highly beneficial and will certainly be turning heads and making people take notice. I am hoping to launch at least a few things by the first of the year, so yeah, it is beyond "Crunch Time".

    I am also trying to get at least a couple of posts up here each week. It's kinda thereaputic for me and gives me some 'down time' to think about other things. Besides that, you guys are cracking me up!

    CP- the me, me, me, thing is on the BITS blog. Sass was talking about herself but not taking credit for her stellar looks in the pic of her riding.

    Carry on... I will try to get something up today. Might take me a little bit though.

  19. Looking forward to seeing the new products you are working on . Holiday pics are up on my blog btw

  20. So so excited that Lil Bit is getting a fly mask from you.
    Its amazing isn't it one day he's stuck in a rescue not getting cared for correctly after being neglected at his last owners and now he's a spoiled mini getting designer threads!
    I love it!
    Now where is my Cinderella ending?
    le sigh

  21. Oops forgot my punctuation again
    Here this question mark goes on my last post

  22. Ummm...excuuuuusssse me! I have both arms wrapped around my Impact Gel Missy and I am growling!...

  23. Dena- I know you like your gel impacts, but from the sounds of things... you won't have to be worried about fighting many folks off in keeping them.

    I have to admit, when Schneiders had them at the Scottsdale show with M & M candies to place inbetween the gel inserts as well as a 'hammer' to whack at them with- none of the candy shells being so much as cracked, I thought it was a good thing. But after reading the article I linked to and considering the plastic doesn't breathe and the gel squishes out of place at some point, it's not doing much to prevent the soreness in our horses back which leads to other issues, no brainer there.

  24. Ooops! Bits- I hope he likes it! Wait 'til you see the theme of it. It will surely fit right in.