I was researching saddle pads tonight and came across an article that every horse owner should read, Saddle Pads and What Manufactures Don Tell You, by Mike Easton. There is so much information that you may find yourself reading it more than once.
I have heard all the latest fads on saddle pad…hey that rhymed. But when it comes to choosing just the right one I’m lost. I would have thought the newest were the best. By now you would think with technology someone would come up with the perfect saddle pad, but after reading this article I realized the old times had it right the first time and there was no need to change it.
A few highlight from his article that stuck out to me were:
“The primary materials used in saddle pads today are open and closed cell foams, synthetic felts, needled felts, pressed industrial felts, woven blankets, gel packs, synthetic cloth, and air bladders. What is interesting about all of these materials is NOT ONE of them was ever originally designed to be used as a saddle pad.”
“Gel Pak Pads are simply heavy mill vinyl/plastic bladders that are filled with a non-hardening gel material. The intent behind development of this product system was to find a material base that would lessen severe impact from a sharp force. In other words it would gradually give with the impact. Evaluation of this material when used in saddle pads works fine when used for only a short time period (30 minutes). But with any movement after that period of time they will bottom out. This leaves no compression protection below any pressure points that might exist in a saddle. This happens because the gel is pushed aside.”
“The most important of all the pad attributes to look for is compression protection and cooling. How does the purchaser know whether the manufacturers label and claims are true? Answer: They don’t without careful investigation and lots of costly trial and error in purchasing pads.”
“Closed cell foams and synthetic based materials will not wick. Try mopping up five gallons of water with a neoprene or synthetic pad. So a good question to ask oneself is, “If my saddle is fitting correctly and no air flow or water can penetrate between back and saddle, how can I cool the saddle back area with a neoprene or synthetic pad?” Answer: Not Possible! Another good question to ask is “Would I wear plastic or foam underwear or socks?” Answer: Not on your life! The argument that a sweaty back lubricates and is good for the animal is shear ignorance.”
“The only true method of cooling is by using a pad material that will wick. In today’s equine market the only two materials are wool or cotton. Wool is the winner here. It will absorb up to 3 times its weight in water, cotton will only absorb its initial weight, and wool has compression protection six times that of comparable thickness of cotton.”
You can read the full article at: http://5starequineproducts.com/research-articles/saddle-pad-research/
I’m excited to see what stuck out for you. What got you thinking? Do you think his research is valid?