Saddle blanket and shim pads considerations

What to think about when you next saddle up. What causes pressure and discomfort, and what to look for when buying saddle blankets and half pads/ shim pads.

As we head into the competition season again, it's a good time to talk about saddle pads and half pads, with 'new season' colours out, the horses body shapes change with the grass influx and work load increase, and for some of you, the desire to have a half pad under your saddle comes into play.

Considerations in brief for saddle blankets

  • Is it long enough for your saddle to sit in without sitting on binding/piping?

  • Is there binding under the girth area which will create a pressure point?

  • Is the material you are using breathable (Cotton/ bamboo/ wool)?

  • Does the saddle blanket have the right shape to match your horses wither profile? (if your horse has a hint of a wither it MUST have a wither shape.

Will the tags that attach it to your saddle sit free of the saddle panel so it's not a pressure point.

Remember if your horse can feel a fly, it's not going to enjoy a lump with the riders weight on it irritating it's back for your riding session.

Half Pad Considerations in brief

  • All of the above apply...

  • If you are looking at a saddle pad to adjust the balance of your saddle then it needs to have shim pockets. Shims must not be memory foam.

  • If you are looking at a pad to hep with pressure relief/ shock absorption then, on behalf of your horse, please don't buy it because XXX represents the brand. Buy it because it has actually has some research behind it. Otherwise you are wasting your time and potentially INCREASING the shock/ forces your horse is encountering.

The depth of the half pad MUST be longer than your tree points and panels to avoid pressure points.


  • Saddles aren't created equally when it comes to having a pad under them. Saddles with narrow channels, high panel lines, or thin foam panels can make the fit worse with bigger pads under them.

  • Always discuss the use of shim pads with your saddle fitter as some pads really will adjust the balance of your saddle negatively.

  • ASF Trial Library is going to offer some brands with research behind them for you to try before you buy, so you can feel the difference!

  • (Thinline, Windren and Sedalogic)


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