The pad fits under the saddle to stop it rubbing a horse's back, but also to cushion movement. As well as protecting your horse’s back, they also protect saddles by absorbing corrosive sweat and grease from the horse's body.
Numnahs essentially perform the same purpose, but the cut is saddle-shaped rather than square or rectangular.
In the UK, the pads (or cloths) come in three main styles, reflecting the type of saddle you use – general purpose (GP), jump, close contact jump or dressage. Some saddlepads are also specifically designed to sit comfortably on high-withered horses.
Many riders like to further cushion the weight of the saddle on their horse’s back by placing a half-pad on top of the pad and under the saddle. These are usually made of artificial fur and they simply provide more comfort for the horse.
Other types of pad include gel pads, which are another shock absorber and rise pads which can be used to temporarily correct a saddle problem by lifting either the front or the back of the saddle. Though these are ideal for short term use, such as when a young horse goes through a growth spurt, they should not be applied over a long period of time.
Matchy Horsey word of warning: no pad should ever be used to make an ill-fitting saddle sit better.
Perhaps out of all the tack your horse will use, the humble saddlecloth will take the most battering on a daily basis, which is why they need to be regularly washed. If left alone, the grime, dirt and sweat will build up which will eventually rub a horse's back, possibly leading to sores and even skin diseases. Thankfully, most are machine-washable on a gentle cycle.
As well as protecting horse and saddle, our fantastic range of numnahs and pads look nothing short of dynamite, especially when matched with bandages and a fly veil. Whether you prefer bright colours or something more sedate, a satin shine or a muted matte, we have something to suit all tastes and every horse. So, take a look and get matching!
Numnahs and saddle cloths are fitted under the saddle to stop the saddle rubbing the horse's back and to absorb the concussion caused by movement. They help to keep the underside of the saddle clean by absorbing sweat and grease from the horse's body. Numnah's are saddle-shaped whereas a pad or cloth is normally square or rectangular.
A numnah or saddlecloth should never be used to make an ill-fitting saddle fit, and if not kept scrupulously clean they can rub the horse's back, leading to sores and even skin diseases.
The difference between a numnah and a saddlepad is the cut. A numnah is cut in the shape of a saddle whereas a pad is cut square. Both are used to stop the saddle getting dirty or sweat stained.
They are made from moisture-wicking materials which make them breathable and quick to dry. Most pads are made from cotton, suede, wool or polyester and they are designed to absorb sweat and help keep saddles from slipping during exercise.
Measure your saddle – from the front to the back, the cantle width, the length of the flap from the gullet to the bottom and finally the flap width. Then add an extra four inches to each measurement when shopping for a pad.
Close contact pads are cut to fit close contact/jumping saddles. Close contact saddles are most commonly used in showing and jumping. Many close contact pads have either a single Velcro strap or separate billet and girth straps to stop the pad slipping.
The size depends on the size of the saddle you ride in. Most pads come in pony, cob and full sizes (with cob fitting most small thoroughbreds), but if your saddle is larger than 18” you may need an oversize dressage pad.