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RideCamp: saddle blankets

Richard Klimesh wrote:
>> What is the best type of saddle blanket or pad combination for long distance riding?  What types should be avoided?

Richard, you'll probably get volumes on this one since pads are so
individual based on your weight, saddle fit, horse's comfort, need for
shock absorption, etc.  Here are some generalities:

1.	Look for natural material like wool over synthetic materials. 
Synthetics are more likely to irritate the skin and break off the ends
of the coat or even pluck the coat out.
2.	Look for the thinnest pad that will work with your saddle.  There is
nothing worse than sitting on three thick pads and having the saddle
slide sideways!
3.	If you need shock absorption, there are several pads made for
endurance:  Equalizer, Cloud Nine, Toklat Woolback, among others.
4.	The pad's margin should be sticking out about an inch from the edges
of the saddle.  That will give you some play in where the saddle sits,
yet not add extra weight or heat retention
5.	Most gel saddle pads are very heavy and very hot.  Think jello in a
plastic bag.  HOT & HEAVY!  There is one gel pad that I know of that
dissipates heat & moisture, but they're very hard to find/custom
ordered.  I'm not even sure that they available any more.  Unless you
are sold on them or need to add weight, they are probably not worth
6.	If a saddle is too tight (you're seeing pressure points ie white hair
or dry spots), don't fall into the trap of padding even more to
eliminate them.  Go thinner, if you can, or look for a better fitted
saddle for your horse.
7.	If an otherwise perfect combination allows the pad to slip back (or
off), sew twill strings to the front of the pad and tie the strings to
the D rings on the saddle.  You can use binding tape from the notions
department of any sewing/fabric store.
8.	Wash your pad often - clean pads are less irritating than sweaty,
dirty ones.  Choose a pad that you can wash!  When washing, run it
throught the long, extra heavy cycle with a double rinse without soap,
or wash one complete cycle with soap and one complete cycle without soap
to remove the irritating soap residue.
9.	Have more than one pad when you find the right one.  One can be
drying while the other is in use.  

I hope that this helps.

Linda Flemmer
Blue Wolf Ranch
Bruceton Mills, WV

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