Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Supplemental padding--do I need it?

First, evaluate the conformation and muscle development of your horse's back from all angles, looking for differences in his size and shape from side to side.

When you evaluate you horse from the rear (depending on how tall both of you are, you may need to stand on a stool or a bucket – (just be careful and don’t scare the bejeebers out of the horse and get yourself kicked into the next county) and look for any differences in the shape of his body. Some horses are more developed on one side than the other or have muscle atrophy from a previous saddle. If that's the case, then you may just need shims to fill in the gaps until the muscle grows back.

Now, ask yourself the questions below.
  • Does he slope from the croup downwards towards the withers? Then you need to use a front wedge or riser pad to make the saddle sit level and keep the rider from tipping forward or struggling to sit up correctly in balance.

  • Does he slope upwards from croup to withers? Does the rider struggle to not fall backwards in the saddle? The solution for this problem is a rear wedge or riser pad which will level the saddle and enable the rider to sit in balance.
  • Is the horse a swayback? Then padding needs to be in the middle to fill in some of the sway and enable the rider to sit level. If he is table-top level...a regular saddle pad or even a thick bath towel will suffice.

Every horse is not the same shape or size all the time, so take a good look at your horse regularly to determine his/her needs.

We have found that the newer models of Ansür Saddles with the gullet ususally do not need additional padding. These pads are used mostly for Classics and older models of the Carlton and Konklusion.

Choosing a Saddle Pad for your Ansur Saddle

Saddle pads were not intended to protect the horse from the saddle. They were originally developed keep the horse’s sweat away from the leather. The sweat will change the properties of the leather, especially if not cleaned properly after each use, and weaken it over time.

And didn’t the travelers use their personal bedding, from skins to wool blankets, under the saddle? Well, yes, it’s a handy place to store them while traveling on horseback as well as the first benefit of protecting the saddle from the horse! That left more room to hang other necessary gear and food on the saddle…one less thing banging on the horse’s back. And better yet, if that bedding was extended beyond the saddle, it could cushion the horse’s back from the load of iron cooking pots and food supplies. Think about the evolution of the utilitarian sleeping skin stored under the saddle and becoming a “saddle pad” to the modern day vast array of pads to protect horses from the saddle.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to not to need to protect the horse from the saddle? To just protect the saddle from the horse’s sweat?

So how should one choose a saddle pad in modern times?

Do your homework and feel/squeeze/grope a lot of pads before spending big bucks on a pad that may have worked for another horse

No matter the brand...check the seams and binding, front, back and middle...if they feel hard, rough-edged and unforgiving, forget it, it will rub.

The squeeze test is: if your fingers are touching through the material...forget it, it's useless, it won’t soak up sweat. Remember the purpose of the pad is to protect the saddle leather from the horse’s sweat!