We have all had saddle pads that slip, that don't stay in place and that cost quite a bit of money. And they ALL get really dirty. Who likes to wash those hairy grungy pads. They weigh a ton when they get wet and they take forever to dry. On top of that, you are left with a hair clogged washing machine, unless you want to make the trek to the commercial laundry. You can wash them by hand if you have a huge tub and weight lift regularly. Few of us can hang them out to dry in the winter, and they get just as dirty in the cold months. What can you do?
There is a solution to all of these issues, and it sits in plain view. In fact, most of us have this material in our homes already. Not only does this man-made fabric serve as a fail-proof, easy-to-clean saddle pad, it also makes an amazing seat cover.
What is it? Memory foam!
While vendors already carry pads made from this airy material, you don't have to buy it through tack supply stores. It is available at your local fabric or chain store that carries bedding materials. This raw memory foam comes in large squares or rolls that you cut to fit. It's so simple and it works so much better than the premade saddle pads.
Memory foam truly is non-slip. Either use it as your sole saddle pad (western or English), or place it under your actual pad for show or to add a bit more cushioning. The memory foam compresses, so it will not be visible if you want to use it under show conditions. The thick foam hoses off like a dream and you can wash it after every ride. It dries in no time and is surprisingly resilient. Plus, it is so cheap, simply throw away the old worn square and replace it with a fresh one cut from the roll!
Memory foam can also be designed to fit as a seat cushion. It gives amazing grip, and it gives any slick or hard saddle seat a pillowy make-over. This seat cover is so much cheaper than the tack store models and it is unbelievably comfortable with a superb gripping quality. Simply sew straps to the foam to fit it in place on an English saddle. If you ride with a saddle that has a horn (western or Australian), you can affix the pad to the seat by cutting a notch for the horn to slip through. You have an instant seat saver!
If all these amazing and frugal benefits of raw memory foam aren't enough, there is a final possibility. Many riders dislike the slippery, or well, uncomfortable feeling of riding bareback. It isn't very comfortable for your horse either, as recent pressure point studies have shown. Memory foam can come to the rescue.
Cut the foam to the dimensions of a bareback pad. Simply grab a blanket surcingle - the really thin cheap ones (thick surcingles will rub your leg), toss the memory foam on your horse and buckle it in place with the surcingle. This is the most comfy, easy-to-clean and non-slip bareback pad you can buy. And it was so inexpensive. You won't believe how secure and comfortable this bareback pad feels, and your horse will agree.
The next time you shop at your favorite all in one big box store, take some time to check out the fabric or craft department for memory foam. You won't regret it. You can buy a horse product that isn't made for horses, isn't just for horses, is cheap, easy to clean and that actually works great! You can always make pillows from the leftovers.
Photo Courtesy: Flickr