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[RC] Dixie Midnight Pad experiment - Melissa Margetts

You are asking for input or individual opinion on the Dixie Midnight pad. As with EVERYTHING from bits, to hoof protection and ESPECIALLY saddles, it really doesn't matter at all how much something costs or if it's the exact model that a top winning team of horse and rider uses. It only comes down to what works for your HORSE and YOU and we all know that each and every horse is built different. You will NEVER have a "perfect" and worthwhile answer to your question until YOU use the product and see for yourself and assess how it works for the comfort and response of your horse.
I had bought a cheap Abetta saddle for $275.00 a few years back and there wasn't a thing wrong with it. But the more I got into this sport and followed the perpetual repartee' among riders about their search for the perfect saddle, I just KNEW that a cheapo deepo $275 dollar Abetta MUST be an inferior saddle for my horse so I proceeded to buy a bunch of different high end saddles and spent thousands of dollars. Well, it was an expensive lesson and I have a tack shed FULL of wonderful saddles, but alas.....NONE of them fit my horse or me like that cheap Abetta and we went on to complete the Tevis twice in that same saddle. So the gist is, gather all the info you get in order to HELP you to assess the pros & cons to look for, but give the product that you already purchased a try and see what YOU think because only YOU will know or see the differences, either pro or con, in your horse. But seeing as how you were looking for opinions....

I live at an altitude that's close to 10,000 feet and it doesn't get very hot or humid here. All of the rides that I do are usually much warmer and the Tevis is known for the heat in the canyons reaching into the low hundreds! The horse that I ride is a Paso Fino named "Cabo" and he is heavier muscled and doesn't have the surface capillaries to disperse the heat like an Arab. If he gets TOO hot his pulse takes longer to come down at vet checks so I am always ready to pull the saddle immediately even if it's not required. I am aware of his need to have a pad that HELPS with that issue and doesn't make it worse. I had heard about the Dixie Midnight pad, read what I could and asked about them from other riders. About 3 years ago I bought one, cut it to fit the Abetta and under the Skito saddle pad that I use and gave it a try. Yes he is still usually wet UNDER the pad when it's hot, but there is definitely air flow and cooling happening. I was able to take this Dixie Midnight experiment further because I also own "Colorado", the metabolic and physical "clone" brother to Cabo and I could ABSOLUTELY see the difference when I'd have a friend riding his brother at the same speeds and distances together with me side by side. Before the Dixie Midnight, both Cabo & Colorado would have the same degree of wetness when we'd pull the saddles & pads. I started using the Dixie ONLY on Cabo and found that he was consistently LESS sweaty than Colorado, and the Skito just wasn't getting hardly damp at all. There were times that the temps are mild and Cabo would be barely damp and Colorado would be just dripping when before the Dixie, they had ALWAYS been equally the same degree of sweatiness.
Just like I had done with the saddle experiment before, I had decided to give a $300 Equipedic 100% wool pad a try, even though we had nothing that was "broke" in the first place. Hell, it's pretty expensive so it just HAD to be better than the Skito right? (Actually I bought it because I liked the color. Ha!) I used it for one of the three 50 mile days of the Strawberry Fields ride this spring. I had used my Skito & Dixie on day one and Cabo pulsed down in his expected and usually predictable time for the terrain & speed. On day 2, I DIDN'T use the Dixie and only went with the new Equipedic wool pad. All morning he was taking longer to pulse down & I didn't understand why. So I decided to pull the saddle at the vet checks and gate & go's" & he was always soaked. I had been riding with Christoph, Garret, Tennessee & Dian Woodward all morning. Dian was riding Salty who would go on to Top Ten at Tevis this year. Salty wasn't coming down for Dian as he usually did and she commented, "Damn I shouldn't have used that wool pad today, he's holding in too much heat". BINGO! On the next loop back into camp, I ran and got the Dixie and threw it under the pricey soaked wool pad. Viola! He pulsed down the entire rest of the day faster, despite the hotter wool pad, and he wasn't anywhere NEAR as wet & drippy though it was now the afternoon & temps were higher. So the Dixie Midnight is now a permanent part of his tack. Never have had any rubs or soreness either and the bonus is that my Skito hardly ever needs to be washed as it NEVER gets dirty OR wet. Hey, but that's just how it has worked for ME & MY horse.

This is ONLY a suggestion but you COULD fold your Dixie in half so it is doubled up but sits under only ONE side of the saddle. (They grip pretty well so it shouldn't slip out if folded right.) Go out on a good work-out but not long enough to make him sore from the difference in thicknesses on one side more than the other. Just ride him long enough to get him just a LITTLE sweaty. Then remove the saddle & pad & see for yourself if one side looks wetter than the other and that might answer your "air flow" question. JMHO & suggestion.
Melissa Margetts


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