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Educate Me!! – Half Pad Use

Ok, folks…I’m having a tiny bit of a mental melt down over here and need some information from you all.

A bit of background. Eeyore is extremely sensitive to most things in life that surround working. He is the Princess and the Pea personified and will not hesitate to inform me when he disapproves of something. I had tried so many girths on him including fleece, cool tech, chafeless and leather and all were met with an inappropriate amount of displeasure. I finally landed on a ridiculously overpriced EquiFit memory foam lined anatomic leather girth that he adores. No more pinned ears and trying to bite me when I tack him up. No more issues under saddle (well, no more tack related issues under saddle) and all is right with the world.

No relevant media, so here are more from the hunter pace. Eeyore had just tried rearing at the trailer and I had grabbed the dressage whip and smacked the side of the trailer. This was his response. If looks could kill.

He goes in a 50″ with the Bates and it was always a bit too small. Nothing major – I could get it on the 3rd hole from the bottom both sides without having a hernia while tacking him up but it always took a minute and required him to suck it in a bit and was difficult. I debated getting a 52″ but the price tag stopped me. 2″ and a little less grunting wasn’t worth it.

I’ve long drooled over several different half pads and see a lot of bloggers out there riding with a half pad under their saddle to help with shock absorption and comfort. I know which brand I’d buy and what color, but the deal breaker was my girth. If the 50″ was a struggle without a half pad, adding that bulk under the saddle would make it not usable and I couldn’t see shelling outing about $600 for a half pad plus a new EquiFit girth when things were going ok with my set up and I’m not jumping anything major over here. So no half pad for us.

KC on Eeyore!

Except…..

The Wexford, which I absolutely adore in every way shape and form, must have exceedingly long billets because the 50″ is now way too long. It is on the absolute top hole and uh…KC almost slid right off his side after he got super sweaty and shed a few ounces out on the hunter pace and the saddle slid right down his belly while she was cantering him. Embarrassing.

I now absolutely have to do something about this. But here is where my overly taxed and over thinking brain is getting fried.

I could purchase a new EquiFit girth in a smaller size and continue on with life as is. Or….I could spend that same amount of money on a half pad and keep my current girth which should fit with the additional bulk of a half pad. This has the added benefit of having a girth that would still work with the Bates since if I go the route of buying a new EquiFit I’d probably need to sell my current one to make up for it and then I wouldn’t have a girth that would fit that saddle at all. Ugh…my brain hurts.

Got a major sunburn during the ride and I love it. Bring on summer!!!!

But I’ve never used a half pad before and I’m not even sure I really need one beyond…wanting one really badly. Which is where you all are coming in.

If you use a half pad of any brand, why? Does it aid in the fit of your saddle or are you using it for concussive reasons? Or both? Do you always ride with one or just when you jump? Please educate me!!!!!

Finally being chill while still managing to give me major side eye to make sure I’m still paying attention to him

I do have an appointment with a Black Country rep on Thursday evening to evaluate the saddle and re flock it for me. I’m going to ask her all these questions and since there is a 0% chance of me getting a new girth before Thursday (the only tack stores that carry it are over an hour away and close at 6 pm which makes it impossible for me to get there on a weekday), I’m kinda stuck with a too long but works ok for now girth for the fitting anyway. I will be picking her brain regarding the use of a half pad with this saddle for him. Don’t worry! I will be working with a professional, but I also love the hive mind of the blogging community so please chime in here and educate me on your own use of a half pad and the reasoning behind it!!!

34 thoughts on “Educate Me!! – Half Pad Use”

  1. I have been taught by my saddle fitter that if the saddle fits properly, then there is no need for a half pad. I would wait for an opinion from your fitter. That said, my horse does not go in a half pad but that doesn’t mean I don’t lust for a matchy matchy Ogilvy one to pair with my saddle pad hahahaha. 😉

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    1. Right? I mean I know his saddle fits and I probably don’t need one but they are so pretty!!!!! And I already know which I want. And have held it in my hands. And it would be more fun to buy one if those then another girth. Ugh

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    2. This is the best advice. Get the saddle reflocked and consider new billets if it’s still an issue. Ultimately it’s a better deal $ wise and creates a saddle that works best for you and Eeyore.

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      1. I’m meeting the fitter in Thursday for evaluation and re flocking as needed. It sits on him very nicely as it is so it may not even need that much done to it. I don’t know.

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  2. It depends a lot on your horse, your saddle, and your needs. Some horses still like the buffer of a half pad, even with a well-fitted saddle. Others don’t ever seem to notice. Some horses like different materials more than others. Some horses are shaped in such a way that one pad will work well when a different one won’t. A lot of it is trial and error.

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    1. Seems to be that way with everything. Half pads aren’t a thing in endurance so when I saw a lot of them out and about in other disciplines I was curious why. If it was for some reason other than making a saddle fit better.

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  3. I have heard as well that if the saddle fits right there’s no need for a half pad. One of the reasons I got a half pad was because of Amber’s sensitive back. She’s used to wearing a western saddle, with a huge tree, lots of padding and leather and support for her whole life. Going to english, she was very touchy on her back, and likes her dressage saddle better than the jump saddle – 1) because it fits better and 2) there’s a lot more padding in the dressage saddle. With her dressage saddle, I rarely needed my ogilvy, but I would put it on her if I palpated her back before a ride and she seemed a little sore. I do wish I hadn’t sold my Thinline half pad tho since it had shims, and looking back at her consistently changing muscle tone I think the Thinline would’ve been better for her comfort and helping her tack to fit better. That’s just my experience with only 2 brands tho 🙂

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    1. My endurance roots leave me a bit confused with all the English gear available. Half pads aren’t a thing in endurance. His saddle fits him well as it is and I think the flocking will only make it better. I’ll discuss with her as I planned on Thursday too

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  4. I agree with what has been said here already. I used a half pad on Georgie because I needed to lift the front of her saddle. So, a half pad with shims in front helped with that issue. I think half pads can be trendy and used just because they look nice. Not for everyone, but I do think they fall a bit in that category. That said, they can also be super useful, especially the ones with shims.
    I think a well fitting saddle, with a well fitting girth is going to be your best bet for the long run. For me, I couldn’t afford a new saddle, and love my current one, so getting a half pad to help was my option. Plus Georgie was the opposite of sensitive. Good you have a saddle fitter coming out- they may have the perfect answer for you!

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    1. I’ll see what the rep has to say. She comes highly recommended not just for her brand but as a fitter and generally nice human being in general and my experience with her to date has not convinced me otherwise.

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  5. My horse before May was a super sensitive, cold backed type. He loved my ogilvy pad.

    May? She’s worn half pads before. But honestly, I find them too much of a buffer between what my seat is trying to say and what she actually feels. I might play with it again, now that she’s slimmed down a bit and is a bit more “broke”.

    Soooo I can see using one for concussive purposes for long, low key rides (hunter paces etc) but probably not for training and competition.

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  6. In Eeyore’s defense, I’ve previously broken my left ankle and if I don’t pay attention, totally put more weight in my right stirrup (it’s why I almost take out the right standard of nearly ever jump I point a horse at). And to his absolute credit, he wasn’t fazed by the shift in balance at all and was a total gentleman about pulling up so I didn’t, ya know, go underneath him.

    That being said, I always use a half pad with P (and S has always gone in one due to saddle fit) but the reason I use it on P is because he’s super thin-skinned and likes the cushion. When I tried saddles, I tried to get one that fitted to him with just a regular pad, and he hated me. As soon as the saddle fitter would stick a half pad underneath, he was much more compliant. So his saddle is fit to him with a half pad underneath and always has been.

    I personally love the EcoGold (https://ecogold.ca/product/flip-reversible-half-pad-jumper/) and used one for a couple of years with good results. Eventually though, it got compressed down (I had bought it used and then used it daily) and I had to look for another one. I decided to try my the Mattes half pad (https://worldequestrianbrands.com/product/platinum-jump-half-pad/) that I already had and it’s worked out great. If I need another one, I’ll go back to the EcoGold because they have awesome colors, are reversible, and are more cooling than the Mattes one.

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    1. I give him a really hard time but he is a good boy. Goofy and opinionated but overall very good.

      The Ecogold flip pad is my favorite followed by the EquiFit but I doubt Mr. Pudgy needs one. He for sure doesn’t need any more cushion!

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  7. Like everyone else has pretty much said, it depends on the horse! I use a half pad on Duke because he had kissing spine surgery and we do what we can to baby his back. I use a half pad on other horses because I use my own saddle and it’s not flocked/fitted/custom for every horse. As I understand it, in general, a properly fitted and flocked saddle doesn’t need a half pad. The saddle fitter will be a great resource!

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  8. Definitely depends on the horse. I will say any half pad big enough to make up for a too big girth is going to be more half pad than you need if your saddle actually fits. My husband uses an Ogilvy pad even though both of his saddles are custom made for Eugene. However, the saddle maker (and fitter) recommended the Ogilvy because it offers a bit of shock absorption without affecting saddle fit because all that foam smooches down to almost nothing. Levi has been in several different half pads including multiple with inserts and while they might take up a hole or two on a girth, they won’t make up for a girth being too big.

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  9. If your saddle fits, I would definitely NOT use a half pad. In general, I use half pads only if the saddle *almost* fits, but not quite, and the pad positively impacts that (usually in situations where custom fitting is not in the budget).

    We DO use half pads with the racehorses because there’s nothing to the exercise saddles and it helps both horse and rider with impact at speed. We either use the Toklat Woolback half pads (do not recommend for a treed saddle) or the ThinLine gel ones (which I like for concussion protection and which have less impact on saddle fit).

    Of course, I LOVE Fleeceworks and Mattes from an aesthetic and rubbing-on-my-face standpoint, but they’re pricey and I’m not sure they provide much protection so much as they can improve saddle fit.

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    1. The Mattes pad generator is addictive. So many options!!! So pretty!!!

      But yeah….my saddle likely won’t need one and Eeyore has enough cushion as it is that a half pad is probably not going to be needed

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  10. Not sure if they say the same thing here in AUS as the US, but fitters tend to recommend that if you use a half pad then you should have the saddle fitted with the half pad in mind or it can alter the fit of a normal saddle/pad set up.

    I have nothing against them, but just see what the fitter says in regards to how the pad will change the dynamics of both saddle fits.

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  11. Never used a half pad as I invested in a custom saddle wih regular flocking over 15 years ago and I still reap the benefits of that decision today. Our saddle fitter does not recommend them except for certain sharkfin conformations. Keep us posted on your discussion with your saddle fitter.

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  12. I’ve never had a half pad take up so much space that it changed how the girth fit, so it sounds like you might need a new girth :/

    I’ve almost always used a mattes pad. It’s the only one I really like. Spicy has such giant hollows behind his withers that I still use it even though I have a custom saddle, although the last time my fitter was out we discussed how much topline he’s been building and that we may be able to ditch it soon. Even when we can, I’ll probably still use a thinline pad underneath. I wish I didn’t have to use a half pad though. If I had the option I most certainly wouldn’t!

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    1. I definitely need a new girth but if I’m adding bulk under the saddle with a half pad it would change the sizing. I’ll see what the fitter says tomorrow but it is sounding like avoiding a half pad is the best bet

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  13. If the saddle fits properly, or if you have any concerns about the saddle being too snug around his shoulders, you do NOT need a half pad. Especially if you’re thinking of using a half pad to help make up for a girth being too long. A half pad that thick is majorly going to change the fit of your saddle! I would wait to speak with the fitter and get a new girth instead.

    I am a fan of thin saddle pads because being able to use them means the saddle fits my horse correctly. I used a Woolback with Lily’s Alta Escuela because the saddle had a flexible tree and was a bit wide for her when she was endurance lean. (I did have this combo evaluated by my saddle fitter at the time just to be sure. She was not a fan of half pads either, but the Woolback was a full pad, so it worked well in this case.) When I switched to my Wintec dressage for endurance, which fit Lily perfectly, I just used a cotton pad + the thinnest Thinline pad I could purchase for impact protection on trail. I’ve only used cotton pads under Gracie’s saddles.

    The only times I have used fleece/wool half pads on horses I’ve ridden has been when I’ve been riding other people’s horses in their tack and the half pad was already being used by the owner/trainer. I owned a Mattes pad when I worked at the tack shop in Florida, mainly because I could get it at wholesale price + all the horses I was catch riding went in them and they were so pretty I wanted one of my own. I never did get to use it on my own horses and ultimately sold it.

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    1. The Mattes pads are so pretty. I’ve played with the generator a lot but they are so expensive.

      My appointment is tomorrow and even if I had wanted to buy anything new I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the tack store before then anyway.

      A shorter girth is the way I’ll end up going as it sounds like unless I really really need a half pad it would only hurt my fit in the long run. Too bad too. They are so pretty!!

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  14. I have a custom fit saddle. My saddle fitter see’s us quite often.

    I still use a half pad. A thin one at that, but it is what my horse prefers. We use a Thinline. It really is just what my horse prefers. Luna is the pickiest mofo of life and always lets me know what she thinks of things.

    If your horse doesn’t care one way or an other, I would opt out of using one. Thats just my preference.

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      1. I’ve found good fitters aren’t completely biased one way or an other.

        Fun saddle pads are more versatile then fun half pads anyways lol. You don’t have to match them with a halfpad!

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  15. What others have said about saddle fit is true, so I always used a sheepskin half pad mostly to wick away heat and sweat off the back and protect the underside of my saddle. Sheepskin compresses quite a bit. With Ramone and Dante my saddle was not made for them so I got an Ogilvy(memory foam) for Ramone which fixed the fit – and then bought wool felt shims to add to the ogilvy to combat Dante’s uneven growth. (put them in the back when he was too high up front, put them in the front when he was too high in back.)

    Some horses hate the materials of certain half pads so I would borrow something if you can first before buying something expensive.

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