What are saddle pads?

What are saddle pads?

Saddle pads, saddle cloths, numnahs, saddle blankets - whatever you call them, they are all essentially the same thing. They help protect your horse's back by dispersing your weight, absorbing sweat and providing extra cushioning, making your horse more comfortable. As we all know, a happy and comfortable horse means no horsey tantrums. Well, maybe!

When did saddle pads first come into existence?

Here's a mind-boggling thought for you ... saddle pads are thought to have been around since 700 BC when the Assyrian cavalry began to use pads and cloths on their horses. Presumably, they discovered it was more comfortable and easier to stay on board with a saddle pad. Otherwise, you can just see them, charging bareback towards their enemies with weapons aloft, but with the merest stumble of their horse, sliding clean off! Not the best look for a brave warrior!

Before then, the earliest domesticated horses would have been ridden without any sort of saddle pad at all. Ouch. Not good if your horse had high withers ...

Thankfully, we're a lot more aware of the health and safety benefits of using a saddle pad nowadays. Apart from deciding which colour will suit your equine friend and you best, what else should you consider when choosing a saddle pad? Here are four key areas we suggest you think about, before making your purchase.

Buy the best saddle pad you can afford

Don't be tempted to cut corners. The better the quality, the more comfort for your horse, as the saddle pad is an important layer of protection for their back. Decent saddle pads will be far more cost-effective in the long run than vet visits! Lumpy or uncomfortable pads could result in a bucking bronco spree or other rather weird behaviour from your horse. Don't risk being catapulted out of the saddle because of a cheap saddle pad.

Buy the correct saddle pad for your chosen discipline

This may seem obvious to some, but if you are new to the equestrian scene, make sure you buy the correct type of saddle pad for your main discipline of riding. For instance, the best saddle pad for trail/long-distance riding where you spend a considerable amount of time in the saddle will differ from one designed especially for dressage. Dressage requires close contact with your horse's sides and competitions usually demand that riders use a pristine white saddle pad like this Stubben streamline dressage pad.

Fabric choice

Sturdier, more robust fabrics are best for trail riding. For instance, wool will breathe nicely and won't bunch up under the saddle. It's also very resilient and will hold up outdoors in all types of weather. Check out this beautiful, painted sunflower wool pad for something truly unique and eye-catching.

For general-purpose riding, there are lots of styles to choose from and sheepskin or sheepskin effect edges are very popular, and comfortable, like this one by Shires Equestrian.

Have fun!

Saddle pads don't have to be boring. We have several to choose from that are just that little bit different. Like this eye-catching cactus design saddle pad. Or this striped, ombre effect JT International Fandango Felt Bottom Saddle Pad. There are plenty of colourful, fun options so have a good old browse through our selection to find something ideal for you and your equine friend! 

If you need advice about saddle pads - just ask us - we are always happy to help.


  • You’ve got some valuable insights on saddle pads. I purchased a pad several years ago from https://www.saddleonline.com, and it’s held up well over time. Your site, Blackjackhorsesaddles, offers an impressive selection of pads.

  • Due to its role, this is a component of a saddle that I always make sure to have. I purchased some of this pads from https://ropingsupply.com/collections/saddles, along with other tools. Years have passed since my previous replacement of it.


Leave a comment