Saddle Pad Fit Guide

Posted 01.13.2020 by Admin / Categories: Let's Rope | Tack

Recently the STT Team visited the Brazos Valley Equine Hospital. Dr. Kurt Heite allowed the STT Team to use his facilities and equipment to fit a saddle pad. The Saddle Fit Guide was also published in the Spring Lets Rope Magalogue. If you have not read this article you might want to. The Saddle Fit Guide was written to help all of our horsemen become more aware of what you can and cannot see with your saddle pads. A good saddle pad can last a long time. And when you find that right pad it will conform to your saddle and make the perfect fit for you and your horse. I want to take the time to thank Dr. Heite again for the use of his facilities. This article has helped us and our customers become more aware.

As always please feel free to reach out. I would like to hear from you.

For the Love of Horses




Saddle Pad fit is extremely important. Even a custom fit saddle can be ruined if used with a pad that doesn’t fit correctly. This study is to help visualize how different types of pads fit and conform to the horse’s body.



How We Did It

 In order to take a look at different saddle pad fits, we visited our friends at the Brazos Valley Equine Hospital and used their state-of-the-art X-Ray facility. In order for the topline of the horse and the bottom of the saddle pad to show up on X-Rays, we attached a tube filled with Barium paste to both surfaces. This caused a very visible line to be seen on every scan, and the results are what you see here.

Unfortunately, X-Rays cannot pass through a material as dense as a saddle, so instead, we weighed each pad down with a 50-pound sack of feed. Because of this, the weighted images have the pellets in the frame, seen as the out of focus granules, but we also got a view of each pad as it fits under weight.


Case Study 1: Non-Contoured Pad





The first pad that we used in the study was a generic non-contoured pad. The X-Ray shows two clear white lines representing the barium filled tubes. Without the weight on the pad there is bridging in-between the horse and the pad.

However, after applying a 50lb weight the pad conformed to the shape of the horses topline with minimal space in-between.


A Side Note on Saddle Pad Selection: Before selecting a pad, it is good to observe the shape of your horse’s back. Although this non-contoured pad takes shape under weight, without the weight it is not a true match to the shape of the horse’s back.


Case Study 2: Stacked Felt Pad and Woven Blanket



In this study we evaluated the somewhat popular combination of a felt contoured pad stacked on top of a woven blanket and used in conjunction. As there is an extra pad, an extra barium tube can be seen on the X-Ray.

In the X-Ray showing the pad weighted down, you can see that the pad is held further away from the horse’s topline. This strategy gives the horse more cushion, but deleverages the horse. We feel the assumption is more pad more comfort, but in reality, the more pad causes a wider setup. This is contrary to our close contact approach. This is a good thing to keep in mind when choosing how to saddle your horse for a particular task.


A Side Note on Saddle Pad Stacking: Saddle pad stacking also causes the saddle pad to flare up at the ends, as seen in this last image. This is especially true for horses with more pronounced withers, which is why we are showing the set up on this particular gelding.

Case Study 3: Contoured One Piece Pad


The final pad we tested was not only contoured, but was also different because it was built completely spineless. The pad still had some bridging, but was not as rigid along the top due to this spineless construction.

Once the weight was applied, simulating a saddle, the barium tubes lined up almost perfectly, which is why you see one singular white line on the X-Ray. Also, unlike some of the other setups, once the weight was applied, the pad still laid against the sides of the horse.



Our goal with this article is to create awareness about what you can and can not see in your saddle pad setup. With the concept of close-contact trees and saddles, we feel it is imperative every pad setup should be close-contact as well. Feel free to draw your own conclusions from our visual clinical study. Let’ is committed to continuously creating awareness on important topics relating to equine sports. We would like to thank the staff at Brazos Valley Equine Hospital for allowing us to use their facility and Dr. Kurt Heite for helping to guide the study and perform the X-Rays.







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