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The Best Saddle Pad You Will Ever Buy, and it's Not Made for Riding!
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The Best Saddle Pad You Will Ever Buy, and it's Not Made for Riding!

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

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  1. liz48170
    It is a non breathing material, holds in heat, not great for LD or Endurance Riding
    1. Black Thistle Farm
      Black Thistle Farm
      Sorry to hear that you misunderstood the article. It is intended for the pleasure rider and the people with pet horses. Sportsmen who engage in activities that involve a high risk for the horse being injured (racing, cross-country, endurance, polo etc) should consult a veterinarian and professional saddler who work with horses put under unusually demanding circumstances.
  2. Black Thistle Farm
    Black Thistle Farm
    Under light pleasure/trail riding conditions our research has shown that memory foam actually reduces the friction, and thus, the heat that other synthetic pads incur. Horses experience extra comfort and less sweating under the memory foam. The foam provides exceptional cushioning behaviors and less uncomfortable slippage The ability for the material to be cleaned after each ride increases the sanitary conditions, as reusing pads without properly washing the material increases the possibility of mechanical irritation and skin conditions for the horse. Clean tack drastically reduces the possibility of contamination, from either material (dried grime, grit, hair and dirt) or microbial presence. Riders should be aware that surfactants can also cause some irritation to sensitive animals. Pads must be rinsed thoroughly to prevent reactions. Those engaging in unusually strenuous equestrian activities should consult with a veterinarian or professional saddler before considering any equipment. Working animals under these conditions requires specialized consultation. Working horses always involves some risk - so equestrians should be aware of the vast and myriad INHERENT issues involved in equestrian pursuits. Each animal and rider are unique and any decisions should be approached with care and a full understanding of the risks involved.
  3. Chip
    Great idea going to try it
  4. Valorie2015
    I never would have thought about it. Great idea!! I'll have to try it out. Thanks, Rosie

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