Is a pad essential?

Is a pad essential?

July 20, 2021 0 By Daphne Maujean

Appeared several decades ago, the pad has become an essential accessory in saddlery, and even a must-have for some riders.

However, using the wrong pad can have major consequences for the health and well-being of your horse. In this article, we give you our advice on choosing the right pad.

What is a pad?

The saddle and the rider’s weight block 30% of the horse’s back muscles. The pad is therefore the ideal ally to limit the pressure exerted.

There are several « families » of pads. We can find the ‘classic’ pads which limit shocks, and the ‘corrective’ pads which rebalance the lot when there is a problem with the saddle or with the horse’s morphology.

The saddle must be adapted to the rider’s morphology. Did you know it must also be adapted to the horse’s one?

How can you verify it?

The withers area must be cleared; you have to be able to put 3 fingers between the saddle and the withers.

The scapula (shoulder bone) should not be squashed; to guarantee your horse’s freedom of movement.

The lumbar vertebrae must be freed; to preserve the mobility of the horse’s back.

The gutter of the saddle must be large enough to completely free the spine.

role of a pad

What are the advantages of a pad?

The pad has many qualities. It is very useful, for example, to:

Dampen the rebound of beginner riders that haven’t yet developed a fixed seating.

Reduce pressures when using only one saddle to ride several horses.

Preserve the backs of horses practicing disciplines that place significant strain on them: show jumping, eventing, Horse Ball, Pony Games, Polo…

Support horses with sensitive back, due to their morphology or to pathologies for example.

Avoid a non-adapted saddle from slipping or hindering the horse.

Balance a saddle so that the cantle and pommel are at the same height.

Keep the saddle fixed during a significant effort, such as through a jump for example.

anne-claire hénon ostéopathe

Anne-Claire Hénon

Osteopath for animals

« During a consultation, when a horse shows joint troubles in the shoulders and/or the withers, abnormal muscles contractions in these areas, a dissymmetry of amplitude, or muscular amyotrophy, it often indicates that the saddle is not adapted.


Thus, I recommend the owner to have his saddle check by a saddler in order to be advised as well as possible to find the pad that could be appropriate, and if that is not possible, to consider changing the saddle. »

Are pads really useful?

The use of a pad will depend on the adaptation of your saddle to your horse’s morphology.

« The role of a pad is to distribute the pressure on the horse’s back as well as possible. A well-fitted saddle, with the right pad, will enable free movement of the skeleton, in particular the scapula which forms part of the shoulder, as well as the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae forming the back.

The right combination of saddle and pad will also ensure the proper functioning of all the muscles of the shoulders and back areas! »

anne-claire hénon ostéopathe

Anne-Claire Hénon

Osteopath for animals

According to Cyril, CWD saddler expert,

« Your pad must be large and wide enough compared to your saddle. It must not lodge in the gutter of the saddle. »

Indeed, the gutter separates the two padding of the saddle. It allows to avoid pressure on the spinous processes of the spine.

If your saddle is well-fitted, there is no reason to use a pad.

ill-fitted pad consequences
anne-claire hénon ostéopathe

Anne-Claire Hénon

Osteopath for animals

« An improperly fitted saddle can, in some cases, be better fitted to the horse’s back by using the right pad.


Unfortunately, some saddles, even with a pad, do not fit the horse’s back and it will be necessary to consider changing it. »

well fitted saddle over time

When buying a pad, you must also pay attention to the fabrics used. Indeed, some will distort with time and the pressure distribution will not be uniform anymore.

For example, wool and gel will tamp over time, while foam or mesh keep their mechanical properties for a longer time.

Then, the question arises: what if you have a unique saddle for several horses? This is where the ‘compensator’ pads come in!

At CWD, we have understood it…

That is why, this year, we have decided to release a new range of riding equipment: the pads.

According to Cyril, CWD saddler expert,

« The appropriate term is ‘compensator’ because it must allow the saddle to be straight to avoid any pressure on the horse’s back. »

The Fitting pad:

It is composed of a 3D netted mesh fabric developed by our R&D department. A thin layer of denser material inside the pad allows to diffuse localized pressures. The design of the pad at the gutter of the saddle allows it to free the horse’s withers and spine.

It can be adapted to all horse’s morphologies thanks to a system of shims. These shims are included when purchasing the pad and allow the saddle to be rebalanced when the horse’s morphology changes, when buying a pre-owned saddle or when using one saddle for several horses.

The Comfort pad:

It ensures the balance of the saddle by compensating the gaps between the panels of the saddle and the horse’s back. Composed of an inner core of foams coated with a viscoelastic injected shell, it allows to diffuse the pressure exerted by the weight of the saddle and of the rider.

Designed with a clearance at the withers and spine areas, it ensures the horse’s freedom of movement and provides optimum horse/rider comfort.

The + ?

The fabrics used for the Fitting and the Comfort pad remain uniform over time.

Do not hesitate to contact us by phone (+33 (0)5 35 00 42 79) or by mail ( for more information!