The best saddle pads will draw away moisture from your horse’s back, keeping him dry and comfortable even when he’s working hard in hot weather. It will also fit your saddle well, offer a good amount of cushioning and spine clearance, and it shouldn’t move while you’re riding.
The straps for attachment should be of good length – and if they’re Velcro for easy fitting this is a real bonus. Some will attach to the girth straps, while others will attach at the D-rings, which may be more convenient unless you need those D-rings to attach a breastplate to. The best saddle pads will wash and wear well as you’ll need to put it through the wash frequently to keep it clean, smart and free from sweat and hair. Some feature an extra layer of protection where the girth sits to prevent the pad suffering wear in this area.
Why do you need a saddle pad?
A saddle pad provides a little extra cushioning between you and your horse, but it’s main function is to keep your saddle clean and wick sweat away from your horse’s back. Some saddle pads are anti-slip and provide extra security, while sometimes a saddle fitter will advise you use a particular shape or thickness of pad, such as a half pad, to temporarily improve the fit of your saddle.
What’s the difference between a saddle pad and a numnah?
A numnah is roughly the same shape as your saddle, whereas a saddle pad or saddlecloth is closer to a rectangular shape and you can see much more of it when the saddle is placed on top. Numnahs are commonly used in showing.
What size saddle pad do I need?
Saddle pads come in a range of sizes, dependent on the manufacturer, but the most common divisions in the UK are pony or full. Some brands also have the option of cob, but not all. When you only have the two sizes to choose between, if your saddle is 16½in or larger you’re likely to be better with a full-sized pad, while anything smaller is will probably be better with a pony size. However, wherever possible it’s best to check the manufacturer’s size guide before purchase.
Best saddle pads for GP saddles
Weatherbeeta Prime All Purpose Saddle Pad
Colours: Bubblegum pink, mulberry, lime green, maroon, royal blue, turquoise, white, black, grey, olive, navy, blueberry navy, lavender or red violet | Sizes: Pony or full | RRP: £39.50 | H&H Rating: 10/10, H&H Approved |
This Weatherbeeta saddle pad is made of a durable cotton fabric with a wicking lining that helps to keep your horse cool, dry and comfortable. It features a breathable mesh spine for extra airflow and high-wither design to allow for extra clearance. The covered girth patch offers durability and the touch-tape girth loops offer easy fit. The D-rings also attach simply with short touch-tape loops for a secure fit. Matching items available, as are reflective, ombre, marble and leopard print versions.
Read H&H’s independent WeatherBeeta Prime Saddle Pad review.
Hy Sport Active GP Saddle Pad
Colours: White, black, red, navy, orange, emerald, royal blue, blue, green, purple, pink or grey | Sizes: Cob/full | RRP: £34.99 | H&H Rating: 8/10 |
This traditional and classic-shaped cotton saddle pad from Hy is designed to fit a wide range of saddles. It has a moisture-wicking lining and features the signature HyWither cut to provide clearance and prevent rubbing. It also features a durable anti-rub girth cover protection, complete with double touch-tape girth loops for a secure and precise fit. Matching items available.
Read H&H’s independent Hy Sport Active Saddle Pad review.
Woof Wear Colour Fusion GP Saddle Pad
Colours: 15 options | Sizes: Pony or full | RRP: £39.99 |
This high-wither pad has been shaped to fit the contours of the horse and modern saddles. It is made from a no-rub polycotton, has girth strap protection sections with girth straps and D-ring straps ensure the pad is secure and comfortable. The pony size also has a faux fur wither protector.
LeMieux Suede GP Square
Colours: Marine, sienna, fig, ink blue, navy, Benetton blue, ice blue, peacock, sage, hunter green, musk, plum, chilli or mink | Sizes: S/M or L | RRP: £44.95 |
Designed to fit a wide range of GP saddles with its high wither, long straps and faux leather girth protection area. The luxurious suede top side and suede binding is combined with a soft bamboo lining to absorb and control sweat under the saddle, while minimising friction.
Mark Todd Ergo GP Competition Pad
Colours: Mosaic, black, grey, white or navy | Sizes: Full | RRP: £34.98 |
This ergonomically designed saddle pad has a mesh spine for improved airflow, a reinforced girth area and front strap fastenings that attach to the D-rings for quick, easy fitting. It has a cut-away shaping to help reduce the risk of overheating, while still allowing space for team embroidery.
Shires Arma Fusion Saddlecloth
Colours: Black, grey, green, deep red or ocean blue | Sizes: 17–18in | RRP: £74.99 |
Combining silicone grips with a shock absorbing lining, this technical saddlecloth is designed for high performance. It’s made with a breathable anti-pill cotton outer with hard-wearing girth guards, while the grip helps to keep the pad in place and the saddle secure. The 3D mesh zones along the spine provide ventilation and increased airflow, the wicking lining reduces the risk of rubbing and increases comfort, and the fleece wither trim offers a luxurious touch. Machine washable.
Rhinegold Wave Saddle Pad
Colours: Black, denim, plum, raspberry, red, tangerine or turquoise | Sizes: Pony, cob or full | RRP: £19.95 |
This saddle pad features a cotton outer, a wave stitching pattern and a wicking waffle lining. It has a ventilated spine and touch-tape attachment straps. It’s finished with twin satin finish rope bindings and embroidered branding.
Coldstream Marygold GP Saddle Pad
Colours: Black, white, slate blue, mulberry purple, blush pink or fern green | Sizes: Pony/cob or full | RRP: £67.99 |
This luxury pad is made from a deluxe silk material with hexagonal logo quilting for a classy and sophisticated style. They have been designed with a high wither that is supported by memory foam stop cushions to provide clearance, comfort, a secure fit and freedom of movement. The pads also have a moisture-tec lining to ensure breathability and airflow, while the golden pin detailing provide a really smart finish.
Shires Performance Air Motion Pro Saddlecloth
Colours: Black | Sizes: 15–16.5in or 17–18in | RRP: £65.99 | H&H Rating: 8/10 |
Highly breathable, this compression-resistant saddlecloth from Shires uses 3D air motion technology to move moist air away from the body and keep your horse cool and dry. It also has shock-absorbing anti-slip panels to increase comfort and stability, as well as a hard-wearing girth guard.
Read H&H’s independent Shires Performance Air Motion Saddlecloth.
Supreme Products Exercise Pad
Colours: Black | Sizes: Pony or cob/full | RRP: £29.99 |
This smart and practical exercise pad is ideal for everyday use. It’s designed to mould to your horse’s shape under the saddle, with the cushioning panels providing comfort.
Protechmasta LUX GP Saddlecloth
Colours: Blue or dark purple | Sizes: Pony or full | RRP: £84.95 |
This smart saddle pad has a shiny outer material that is not only beautiful but dirt repellent, too. It has a 3D spacer mesh along the spine of the pad to maximise airflow and breathability, as well as a ceramic-infused lining that emits a natural and safe form of Far Infrared radiation. This is proven to gently and safely assist blood circulation, which can help to assist warm up.
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