The best half pads can be used for a variety of reasons. Some are added beneath correctly fitting saddles to add an extra layer of shock absorption and aid stability, while others can be added to account for changes in the horse’s shape and help to temporarily improve saddle fit. This is particularly useful when horses are developing or changing shape due to weight, fitness or age, and many of these have shims, which you can add and remove as necessary.
Some half pads are designed to be used alone, but most can also be used with a saddlecloth – some should be used underneath and against your horse’s back, while others should be used between the saddlecloth and saddle. A half pad should mould to the shape of your horse’s back to help distribute pressure evenly and allow the saddle to sit correctly. The best half pads will be breathable and wick away sweat from your horse’s back.
Here’s a selection of the best half pads for you to browse listed alphabetically…
Courtlea Numnahs exercise pad
Colours: Ivory or dark brown | Sizes: 17in, 17.5in or 18in | RRP: £125 |
Available in a choice of straight or forward cut in a choice of three thicknesses, this pad from Courtlea Numnahs fits neatly under a saddlecloth or can be used alone to offer maximum comfort and wick away sweat.
Equitex close contact half pad
Colours: Emerald, onyx, chocolate, champagne, sapphire or ruby | Sizes: Standard or made to order | RRP: £159 |
Forward cut to sit neatly under a close-contact saddle, this Equitex pad should be worn so that it is in direct contact with the horse to prevent concussive pressures and increase airflow. The velvet underside ensures comfort and the grip graphics prevent saddle slippage. It can also be used with a thin saddlecloth on top.
Eskadron faux fur half pad
Colours: Black | Sizes: Full | RRP: £63.95 |
This half pad has a cotton topside, foam inlay and an easy-care faux fur underside. It features spacer fabric along the back channel to optimise air circulation, while the rest of the pad is also breathable.
Fouganza synthetic sheepskin horse saddle pad 900
Colours: Black | Sizes: Full | RRP: £39.99 |
This saddle pad has three layers of cushioning along the back separated by mesh to free the topline.
View now at decathlon.co.uk
Griffin Nuumed HiWither two-pocket half shimmy pad
Colours: Black, brown or white | Sizes: S–XL | RRP: £55.90 |
This versatile half pad from Griffin Nuumed with a memory foam inner has two corrective shim pockets on either side. It comes with six corrective shims – two 5mm shims in each pocket at the front and one 5mm shim in each pocket at the back – which can be inserted and removed as required. Additional shims can be purchased separately.
Hy Equestrian Fab fleece half pad
Colours: Black, brown or white | Sizes: One size | RRP: From £35.99 |
This smart fleece-lined half pad from Hy has a clear spine. It is durable, washes well and dries fast, and is ideal for cushioning against impact as well as protecting against sores and chafing by increasing airflow. Machine washable.
LeMieux ProLambskin half pad
Colours: Natural/white, natural/black, black or brown | Sizes: XS–L | RRP: £84.95 |
This LeMieux half pad is made of 100% natural Australian Merino lambskin, which is much denser and softer than the older sheep wool used in many similar products. The spine is swept up at the wither to relieve pressure on the spine and allow air flow. They can be used with any cut of saddle, on top of a thin cotton square or straight onto your horse’s back.
Mattes half pad
Colours: Wide range of colour combinations | Sizes: S–XL, in GP, dressage or jump styles | RRP: From £34 |
You can build this highly customisable half pad to suit your horse by adding lambskin in a number of areas, including the padding, trims and underside, in a variety of colours. It also features a design that prevents pressure around the withers and spine, as well as a system that allows the top seam of the pad to be attached in the gullet of the saddle. It also has optional Velcro keepers and is available with shims on request.
PolyPads half pad
Colours: More than 141 combinations | Sizes: Pony or standard | RRP: From £32.99 |
This lightweight, pressure-distributing half pad from PolyPads has been designed with a shaped spine for a secure fit. The contoured skirt mimics the shape of the saddle panels to reduce the risk of pressure points forming.
Premier Equine shock absorber half pad
Colours: Black | Sizes: Full | RRP: £60 |
This Premier Equine half pad uses memory foam to act as a superior shock absorber and distribute pressure evenly. It also helps to eliminate rubbing and friction by adapting to the contours of your horse’s body.
QHP Ontario memory foam half pad
Colours: Black, cobalt blue, dark brown, evening blue, fuchsia, olive green or white | Sizes: Pony or full | RRP: £59.95 |
This QHP half pad is filled with one-inch memory foam that shapes itself to the saddle and your horse’s back to provide an optimal fit, better pressure distribution and shock absorption. The suede topside and fleece bottom ensure a stable position between the saddle and pad, and there is an artificial wool trim at the withers and along the rear.
Rhinegold non-slip gel half pad
Colours: Black or white | Sizes: Pony, cob or full | RRP: £28.50 |
This anatomical pad from Rhinegold has a cotton outer, faux fur trim and shock-absorbing non-slip panel. The faux fur gives support and alleviates pressure points, while the rolled edges and padded wither offer additional comfort. It is finished with quilting and soft bindings.
Shires Performance suede half pad
Colours: Burnt orange, plum, raspberry, grey, black, royal blue, green or white | Sizes: 15–16.5in or 17–18in | RRP: £35.99 |
In a great range of vibrant colours, this contoured half pad with suede top side from Shires has a SupaFleece lining that cushions impacts and increases airflow. It features touch-close retaining straps and a hard-wearing girth guard. Machine washable.
Stephen’s Gel-Eze sheepskin pad
Colours: Black, black/natural, white/natural, navy, mocca or mocca/natural | Sizes: S–L | RRP: £109.10 |
This Stephen’s pad features Gel-Eze comfort cushions on the shoulder, under the point of tree, and either side of the spine, which provides added comfort for you and your horse, and prevent lateral movement of the saddle. It is described as particularly good for big-moving horses.
VIP Equestrian Original
Colours: Black, coffee brown, gold, blue or warm white | Sizes: Small pony, large pony or original | RRP: From £134 |
Made of a very different material, this VIP Equestrian pad is soft, flexible and seamless and only 8mm thick so is designed to be used with a correctly fitting saddle for impact protection. It is non-stick, so does not pull at the hair, and features bobbles that increase the surface area and relieve pressure points. It is also hypoallergenic and easy to clean.
View now at ebay.co.uk
Voltaire Design half pad
Colours: Brown | Sizes: M or L | RRP: £190 |
This Voltaire half pad absorbs shocks and provides comfort, as well as helping to balance your saddle. Available with front or rear risers, as well as without either.
Weatherbeeta memory foam shimmable half pad
Colours: Black or white | Sizes: Pony or full | RRP: £64.99 |
This soft and breathable anti-slip and shock-absorbing half pad from Weatherbeeta helps to distribute pressure evenly. It has a suede top and fleece-lined underneath with memory foam inner, and includes eight memory foam shims with four openings – two on each side to allow up to four in the front and four in the back. Another version of this Weatherbeeta half pad was reviewed as part of our independent testing scheme – read the full review.
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