best saddle pad for horse with sore back

Best Saddle Pad For Horse With Sore Back

A saddle pad is a cushioned layer between the saddle and your horse. It plays a pivotal role in horse care. Choosing the right saddle pad can make all the difference in their comfort and well-being, especially for horses with sore backs.

Just as we’d pick shoes that fit us perfectly, ensuring a proper saddle fit is important for our equine friends. Saddle pads provide that extra layer of comfort and also help in achieving a snug saddle fit, ensuring happy riding for both rider and horse.

Below I will discuss some of the best ones on the market, as well as how to make the right choice for you and your horse.

The Importance of a Well-Fitting Saddle

When it comes to equestrian care, having a nice-fitting saddle is key, not just for a rider’s comfort but for the horse’s health and performance. An ill-fitting saddle can apply concentrated pressure in uncomfortable areas, block movement, and lead to sore backs.

It’s important to understand saddle fit, especially when dealing with horses with sensitive backs or conditions like kissing spine. Pairing a nice-fitting saddle with the best saddle pad ensures better pressure distribution, shock absorption, and a harmonious ride. This can then create a stronger bond betweenyou and your horse.

Top 5 Saddle Pads for Horses with a Sore Back

1. Best for Therapeutic Relief ECP All Purpose Diamond Quilted Cotton English Half Saddle Pad

The ECP All Purpose Diamond Quilted Cotton English Half Saddle Pad is practically the only saddle pad choice for equestrians seeking therapeutic relief for their horses. With its unique contouring system, this therapeutic saddle pad comes with 18 foam inserts, allowing riders to adjust the fit as their horse’s shape evolves.

Memory foam technology ensures exceptional pressure relief and shock absorption. It features six pockets and offers gradual adjustments with 18 contoured shims for the front and back.


  • Customisable fit with 18 foam pads for evolving horse shapes.
  • Suitable for a range of riding styles, from competition to casual.
  • Durable and machine washable for effortless maintenance.
  • An affordable option.


  • Could require frequent adjustments for rapidly changing horse shapes.
  • Not ideal for those who prefer a single-fit pad without adjustments.

2. Best for EnduranceT3 CoolBack Endurance Pad Extreme-Pro Impact

If endurance riding is your thing, then the T3 CoolBack Endurance Pad Extreme-Pro Impact is an easy choice. This pad offers superior cushioning and support to endure the challenges of long-distance rides. Unlike other saddle pads, its CoolBack technology ensures optimal temperature regulation, keeping the horse comfortable even during the most challenging terrains and conditions.


  • Designed specifically for the demands of endurance riding.
  • CoolBack technology for excellent temperature management.
  • Provides consistent cushioning and support throughout long rides.


  • Over-specialised for casual riders.
  • Potential for bulkiness due to added features.
  • The price point is higher compared to basic pads – but you pay for quality!

3. Best Budget OptionCottage Craft Synthetic Fleece Lined Half Pad

The Cottage Craft Halfpad is a cost-effective solution to saddle fit challenges. It was initially made to be a saddle cloth alternative. This pony half pad boasts a soft synthetic fleece lining that provides ample cushioning while reducing pressure on the horse’s back.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the option of removable inserts, so riders can’t customise the fit. That aside, it’s still easily the best half-pad for those seeking versatility without breaking the bank.


  • Synthetic fleece lining for enhanced comfort.
  • Offers the benefits of premium cloth at a budget-friendly price.


  • Might require frequent cleaning due to the synthetic fleece material.
  • Limited to specific colour and design options.

4. Best Western Saddle PadImpact Gel Straight Back Felt Saddle Pad

The Impact Gel Straight Back Felt Saddle Pad is my go-to for riding Western. It’s designed with unique gel pad technology which offers unparalleled shock absorption, ensuring that the horse’s back is well-protected during rigorous Western riding activities. The felt material further enhances the comfort, making it one of the best saddle pads for those who prioritise both function and tradition.


  • Incorporates advanced gel technology for superior shock absorption.
  • Crafted specifically for Western riding styles.
  • Durable felt material ensures longevity.


  • Might be bulkier than some prefer.
  • Potential for the gel to harden in colder climates.
  • Not suitable for non-Western riding disciplines.

5. Best English Saddle PadEquiFit ImpacTeq Half Pad

The EquiFit ImpacTeq Half Pad is a top-tier choice for English riders. Unlike many memory foam saddle pads I’ve used that can be overly thick, this pad offers a sleek design without compromising on protection. Its innovative ImpacTeq technology ensures that it moulds to the horse’s back, providing optimal shock absorption.

As one of the best saddle pads on the market, it seamlessly combines style and function for English disciplines.


  • Sleek design; not bulky or thick.
  • ImpacTeq technology for superior shock absorption.
  • Tailored for the aesthetics and demands of English riding.


  • Premium price point.
  • Requires special care to maintain its shape.
  • Limited colour and design variations.

Types of Saddle Pads

  • Basic – protect the saddle from moisture and dirt, ensuring longevity.
  • Correctional – with their adjustable inserts, they help achieve the perfect saddle fit, especially for horses with uneven muscle development.
  • Therapeutic – usually made from materials like memory foam or gel and offers enhanced shock absorption, benefitting horses with sore backs or high withers.
  • Half – typically used with a basic pad, half pads give you an extra layer of cushioning, focusing on the spine and wither area.

English Saddle Pads vs Western Saddle Pads

English and Western riding have distinct styles and their pads show these differences. English saddle pads are typically square or contoured, designed to fit under close-contact saddles used in disciplines like dressage or jumping. They’re sleek and have minimal bulk.

Western pads are generally larger and thicker, providing cushioning for the broader Western saddles. These pads often have intricate designs and materials suited for longer rides and rigorous activities like roping or barrel racing.

How to Choose a Horse Saddle Pad

Here are a few things to look out for that can help you choose the best saddle pad for your horse’s back.

  1. Understanding your horse’s back shape and needs: Every horse is unique. Recognise if your horse has high withers, a flat back, or uneven muscle development to select a pad that complements its body.
  2. Materials: From memory foam to gel, the material of the saddle pad affects its cushioning and durability. Choose based on your horse’s sensitivity and the type of riding you do.
  3. Pressure distribution: A good pad evenly distributes the rider’s weight, so that there are no pressure points to ensure a comfortable ride.
  4. Thickness and weight: The pad’s thickness can impact saddle fit. In this sense, it’s best to go for one that provides cushioning without adding excessive bulk.
  5. Moisture management: Pads that wick away moisture keep the horse cool and prevent skin issues. This is especially useful on endurance rides.


What is kissing spine in horses?

Kissing spine, formally known as ‘overriding dorsal spinous processes’, is a condition where a horse’s vertebrae touch or overlap, causing the horse discomfort. This spinal issue can affect a horse’s performance and mood (understandably). Proper saddle fit, therapeutic saddle pads, and expert care can help manage and alleviate the symptoms of this common equine condition.

How should a saddle sit on a horse’s back?

A well-fitting saddle is crucial for horse comfort. It should sit level on the horse’s back, two to three fingers behind the shoulder blade, without pressing on the spine. The pommel and cantle should be even and there should be clearance over the withers. Pressure spots or uneven weight distribution are signs that it’s a poor fit, which can potentially lead to a sore back.

How often should I replace my saddle pad?

The lifespan of a saddle pad varies depending on how often you use it and its material. This means that the best approach is to regularly check a saddle pad for signs of wear, unevenness, or loss of cushion. If the pad no longer gives you enough shock absorption or if it’s causing pressure points, then it may be time for a replacement.

What’s the difference between a half pad and a full saddle pad?

A full saddle pad covers the entire area beneath the saddle, offering good protection and comfort. A half pad mainly provides cushioning in the middle section, focusing on the horse’s spine and withers. Both types aim to improve saddle fit, distribute pressure, and offer enough shock absorption for a comfortable ride.

How can I tell if my horse is experiencing discomfort from a poorly fitting saddle or saddle pad?

Horses usually communicate discomfort through subtle signs. Be on the lookout for changes in behaviour, reluctance to be saddled, or sensitivity when touched. You may also notice uneven sweat patterns after a ride, swelling, or dry spots, all of which can indicate poor saddle fit or pad issues.

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