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?