Correction Pads, Correction, Pads, Fleece, Foam, Gel, What the Hell!

So many half pads, correction pads, shim pads are out there, what do you choose, and what do you use? Another guide to what to buy.  “Ugh, these can get sooo long.”  Yes, but admit it, you always learn something.  “Fine, but I’m not giving up my new fancy Ogilvy pad that I bought at the Black Friday sale.”

Who doesn’t love half pads?  I have a bunch of different types of half pads, and have had a number of them over the years.  There are people out there that say if you saddle fits right, you don’t need correction pads.  These people are correct.  However, when you are like me and have multiple horses, and a desire to have less stuff in my tack room, this doesn’t always work.  Ideally, you would have 1-2 wool flocked saddles per horse, properly fitted and stuffed to fit that horse.  “I ain’t got that kinda money!  Do I look like I just won the lottery?”  No, you don’t, neither do I.  There is another issue with this, if you have a young horse who is growing and changing, your saddle has to grow and change with the young horse.  Ideally you should have a saddle fitter look at your saddle every 6 months due to changing shapes.  This has happened to me with Lily.

No, this isn’t Lily, I wasn’t smart enough to take a picture and I didn’t want to cause her pain for a picture.

Less than a year ago I bought an Ovation monoflap saddle, it has inter-changeable gullets.  The saddle came with a medium gullet but it did not fit Lily, so I ordered a wide, that fit but the saddle was a bit low on the front end.  Well, now what?  A front riser pad, just this past weekend though, I noticed 2 dry spots on her back, so I pulled the riser pad, and the saddle fits.  “Well good for you, but I still want that Oglivy…”

With so many options out there, what do you choose?  Well it depends on what you need a few ground rules though;

  • Adding or removing a pad, will change the fit of your saddle
  • If you have 2 horses, one that needs a wide tree and one that needs a narrow, either buy 2 saddles or buy a saddle to fit the wide horse and add pads to fit the narrow horse.
  • The pommel and the cantle of your saddle should be at the same height
  • If you are seeing dry spots on your horse’s back, you have pressure points and your saddle doesn’t fit
  • There are a number of saddle fitters out there, if you are a beginner, or don’t understand, get help, they can even recommend correction pads if necessary.
  • All pads should be pulled up into the gullet of your saddle to prevent compression on the spine, it’s not as much of an issue at the back of the saddle but up near the withers, ensure there is a lot of clearance.

“Boring, I wanna know about pads!”  Ok well I have made a handy dandy list below.

  • Lollipop Pad – usually made of foam or fleece covered foam, this lifts the back of the saddle, if your cantle is low, you might consider one of these.  The thing I don’t like about lollipop pads is that the “stick” part of the pad goes up in the gullet of the saddle which is where your horse’s spine goes, thus putting compression on the spine, there are newer better options out there.  Early form of saddle fit correction pads.
  • Pommel Pad – oval pad either knit or fleece, like the lollipop, these have been around for for-ev-ver and are used to lift the front of the saddle if your pommel is too low.  These are only 12″ long and are cheap but they only cover the first few inches on either side of your saddle panel and if you aren’t careful, they can get tight and put pressure on the withers.  Also a first generation of saddle fit correction pads.  Don’t throw it away though, it would make a great Barbie area rug or a Barbie blanket.
  • Wedge Pad – Usually foam – Just as the name describes they are wedge shaped, usually thicker at the back but they have front wedges as well.  These are the second generation correction pads, they provide lift but there is more pad to provide support to the entire panel and are less likely to bind on the spine.
  • Riser/Lift Pad – Usually foam – They have thicker foam in targeted areas (front or back) and usually have a wither relief shape, these are the 3rd generation of correction pads.   This is the one I recommend if you are looking for a cheap correction pad as these will run you about $30
  • Shim Pads – These are so hot right now.  I have seen all kinds of shim pads, fleece, quilted, the super popular leather.  The idea behind these is that there are pockets built into the top of the pad that allow you to add “shims” that are either felt or foam in the location needed, some offer only front or back shims but others offer center shims too.  This allows you to customize your fit instead of a “one size fits all” pad, and it can be modified to fit different horses so if you decide to upgrade from Fluffy Pony to Buddy Horse, you don’t need a new pad.
  • Anti-Slip Pads –  These are pretty self explanatory.  They are usually a thin piece of foam or a suede that is put between the saddle and the horse, this is to help prevent slipping, I haven’t needed these as my horses have fairly prominent withers.  They work ok but not as well as equipment like cruppers and breastplates and most half pads have some form of anti-slip built in already.  Such as the suede on the Ogilvy pads, and the “tacky” surface of gel.

“All of that is nice but my saddle fits…I don’t need to fix anything, I just want more padding!”  Well, as stated before, adding a pad will adjust the fit of the saddle, if you add thick pads, you can in essence convert your wide saddle to a medium or possibly a narrow.  I don’t recommend trying to go from a wide to a narrow but a wide to medium or medium to narrow is doable.  I will warn you, if you have a rolly polly pony, and you add a nice thick half pad, plus a saddle pad, you will have a bad day.  “Why, I just want Fluffy pony to have lots of soft squishy padding!  How dare you take that away from my wonderful Fluffy Pony, he didn’t even buck me off at the last horse show, he deserves it.”  That may be so but by adding all of that squish, you “fill” in the space between the panels taking away the anatomy of the saddle that helps hold it in place.  All the sudden you need a crupper to keep your saddle from going up on Fluffy’s neck and every 5 minutes you are having to step in one stirrup or another to put your saddle back in the center of your horse.  So when choosing a half pad, keep in mind that thicker is not always better.  If you are trying to “pad” your wide tree to a medium, that is when you want a thick pad.  Now to the different types.

  • Fleece pads – These are great for padding your saddle down to a narrower tree.  There are real sheepskin ones, which tend to be a bit thicker and more plush, these can help minor fit issues like pressure points and add padding to help distribute impacts such as landing hard after a jump.  Costs between $30 for sythetics to $250-$300 for custom options
  • Gel pads – Think Jello Jigglers, These will help with minor fit issues like pressure points and provide a good impact cushion as the gel “flows” away from the impact. You can get just gel or gel with fleece.  The gel can also have holes in it which will allow the gel to flex and allows airflow.  Stuff sticks to gel, like dirt and hair, they can get hot under the saddle and it is heavy.   Use a “Fabric type pad” between this and the horse, or a cover.   They have come up with less “liquid” gels which you can find in the Acavallo memory foam and gel pad, this is more firm than a regular gel pad but still provides benefits. Cost $50-250.
  • Closed Cell Foam – These are fairly universal and cheap, they rebound nicely thus provide impact cushion, just like those mats they used in gym when we were kids.  Also used in furniture, think about your couch cushion.  This is what the early foam pads and foam riser pads are made out of. These can get hot so be sure you use a “fabric type pad” between this and the horse.  They are not the best at helping with pressure points but are better than nothing.  Cost $30-50
  • Memory foam – This is your Ogilvy, Equifit, Acavallo and many other popular pads.  Memory foam reacts differently than regular foam, it gets “softer” with heat so this is great for pressure points.  This foam compresses and stays compressed so it’s more of a formed fit.  If you have a thick one of these, check your girth after you get on, it will usually need to go up a hole after you compress the pad.  Since this foam does not rebound it is not great for impacts, if you have ever slept on a memory foam bed, you know there is no bounce so jumping on it is no fun at all, same thing goes for your horse’s back, once the foam is compressed, the impact transfers directly to their back.  I have a thick Equifit pad for Emma that I use in conjunction with a foam front lift pad since my saddle is a wide tree for round Lily. Cost $50-250
  • Leather Pads – These are super popular right now, I like them because they are easy to clean.  What is inside those pads?  Foam… a very thin layer of foam. $250-425


  • Open Cell Foam – like Thinline, it will collapse like closed cell foam but not spring back as quickly, it will conform more than closed cell but rebounds to provide impact protection.  Kind of like closed cell foam and memory foam had a baby.  I have a Thinline bareback pad and recommend it to everyone.  As the name suggests, the pad is thin if you get just the foam so it will provide benefits without adding thickness, which could change your saddle fit.  $70-300

I have used some form of all of these pads over the years, and own all of them except gel, which I have owned in the past but decided the other options suit my needs better, and the leather pad because let’s face it, they are crazy expensive.  Since I have a foam flocked jumping saddle and those are built as a one size fits none, I use a normal Equifit pad on Lily and Emma gets the thick Equifit pad with the closed cell foam front riser pad.  My dressage saddle has Cair panels, the old ones that were just air, so I add either a sheepskin pad or the Equifit to help with any fit issues.  In the end, choosing the right pad depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  Technology has come a long way in the last 30 years and will continue into the future, old style pads aren’t the worst thing but new styles may be better, consider all of your options when choosing a pad.  As with helmets and safety vests, pads with foam in them will degrade over time, they will not perform as well.  Thinline states 7-9 years on their products.  Mine are all less than 5 years so I am ok for a while but if you have a 20 year old foam pad laying around, time to pitch it.

Disclaimer:  I do not sell saddles, saddle pads, half pads, tack of any kind unless used by me first.

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Tack Friday, Saddle Monday, Bargains, Deals, Christmas Shopping, Horsey Gift Ideas, ALL the Shopping!

UPDATE:  Scroll down to the bottom for the daily deals list!!!  It’s the week before Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Just kidding, things are nuts as usual! This engineer is very busy at work, and we do Christmas at the farm every year so there is a lot to do to get ready. Next week I will be busy with Houston traffic, work, family, and turkey. “Traffic, why traffic, people are off most of the week, it should be easy.” It’s usually easy at 6am when I go in but Wednesday afternoon when people are heading out of town to go visit family, things get stupid. Literally one of the worst traffic drives of the year, and it starts at about 1pm.  “Well that sucks for you, but let’s get back to shopping!”

Ok Black Friday is upon us or maybe it should be Tack Friday, I am waaaay too proud of coming up with that, also Saddle Monday instead of Cyber Monday.  “Oh Jesus, NERD ALERT.”  I don’t know about you but the thought of standing in line for an hour to get $5 pj pants is just not at the top of my list of things to do.  I would rather sit in my living room, watching movies in my pj pants and do my shopping online.  I heard on the radio that a guy is already camped out in front of Best Buy, 3 weeks early.  Don’t be that guy.

So first of all, since I am a stingy, I mean frugal person here are a few tips to keep you from going into debt this year:

  • Make a list of all the people you need to buy for, I get all fancy with an excel sheet but a slip of paper will work, just keep it in your wallet so you don’t lose it.
  • Buddy the Donkey Elf

    Assign a dollar amount to each person

  • Add up those dollar amounts and see if this is something you can afford, if not, lower the amounts.
  • Don’t panic
  • If you can’t afford much this year for whatever reason, use pinterest or the interwebs to see if you can find a way to make a gift.  I know my ponies always love homemade cookies, and I’m not going to turn away a plate of human cookies
  • I HATE this one but don’t drink and buy, a glass or 2 of wine tends to make the purse strings a lot looser.  This is why casinos will usually give you alcohol for the price of free-fifty, you tend to spend more when you are drinking.
  • Save the gifts you don’t want for white elephant for next year.  I have a spot in my closet that holds white elephant gifts.  I never buy anything, just re-gift.
  • I have been known to re-gift things if I got something I don’t like but I know someone else will.  Only do this if it’s still new!  “Used” gifts are not ok, although there are a few caveats to this, like used tack especially quality stuff.  Used socks, not ok.  Used saddle pads, especially dirty ones, not ok.  Those ratty old polos you don’t want anymore, not ok.  Half a bag of horse treats, put them in a pretty new container with a bow, ok.
  • Horse treats are a great gift for barn friends.

So with the unfun stuff out of the way, here is how to get what you want for Christmas, I present to thee Amazon Lists.  “I want horse stuff for Christmas, not Amazon stuff.”  Good news, you can add stuff from other websites!  Just add Amazon Assistant to your browser and you will get this icon and cool list thing that helps you add things to your amazon list.  Plus you can add notes like any coupon codes you may have, sizes, color preference, options etc.  Plus, when someone buys something off the list, it lets other people know that it has been bought, but it won’t let you know.  Yay, no double gifts!  Also, if you have things on a list it will tell you when a price drops.  Also, there is a great “app” to add to your browser called Honey, it will tell you if there is a lower price on Amazon if its an Amazon item.  One final tidbit, buy through Amazon Smile, it will donate money to a charity of your choosing.

Before I go any further, I may say Christmas, but Hanukkah, Kwanza and even Ramadan deserve presents too, even if you buy one for yourself.  Whatever your religious affiliation, it’s the holidays, get presents!!!

Now, on to the deals, usually I get an email from Smartpak, sometimes Stateline tack, Dover has deals that usually last all weekend.  Last year I got a really cute vest at Dover for like $20.  I have recently seen a lot from Riders Warehouse, I don’t know what they will offer for Black Friday, but check here for updates.  I will warn you, don’t blow all your money on Black Friday, there is still cyber Monday and then a lot of

Bear at 4 months old, it turns out he is a St. Bernard/Great Dane Mix!

tack shops offer the “12 days of Christmas”  12 days of deals my friends!   I got Smartpak shirts for less than $6  shirt last year.  Adams Horse and Pet Supplies offered a deal on free ice packs with the purchase of Ice Vibe boots and they were discounted.  As soon as I get deals I will post them on this blog post.  If you come across any good deals not listed, post them in the comments below for everyone to enjoy.  I can’t wait for the deals to roll in.

The MEGA Black Friday list has been posted by The $900 Facebook Pony.

“Why the heck am I reading your blog then?  I’m going to hang out on her page.”  I am all for supporting fellow bloggers, head over and check it out.  I will however cover the sales that hit after the black Friday excitement.

Deals are nice and all but what about gift ideas?  My friends, I am here for you:

  • Hammer and Clay Personalized Horse ornaments
  • Two Socks Designs– Saddle pads, embroidery, shirts, all kinds of personalized stuff
  • Chameleon Browbands – Interchangeable browband bling, hint on this is that you can buy one this year and next year get new jewelry, so no need to think of what to get next year!  You are welcome.
  • HPF Designs – Beauiful Browbands including V shaped ones
  • Custom Brushes, although most of us have brushes.  But do your friends have wine opener hoof picks?  Noble outfitters has hoof picks with a corkscrew or bottle opener on the end.  A must have for tack trunks.
  • Helmet carrier, boot bags, tack bags/cover.  Make sure to get one for yourself so you can match your barn buddies at shows.
  • The Horses Glass – Get your pony hand painted on wine glasses, they have off the shelf ones that I recommend too, very cute!
  • Equine Art By Julie – Personalized ornaments, drawings, paintings.  She has amazing stuff.
  • Exceptional Equestrian – As she says, Nothing you need and everything you want.  Including Mini Britches which I love for my Mini Equestrian
  • Cowgirls for a Cause – I love their shirts, they tend to run small though.  The sale page is always a fun place to start.
  • Higher Standards Leather Cleaner – I love this stuff, it does a great job and smells wonderful too.
  • The Tack Exchange – Magnolia Tx, offering used tack!  I’m not far from them and I didn’t know they existed.  Time to shop!

Note: Most hand crafted things needed to be ordered earlier in the year but you could do an IOU or start planning for Birthdays or next year.

These are the current deals!

Keep checking back, I will add more as I get them.  If you know of a good sale post it in the comments below to share with everyone!  If you are a business and want to add a Black Friday or Christmas deal, contact me, I will gladly add you (woohoo free advertising!)

Disclaimer:  I don’t work for any of the companies above.  All deals need to be checked on your own and are subject to availability.

Do You Need that New Tack? Is Less More? What’s In This Engineer’s Tackroom, Horse Trailer, Boot Rack, and Closet.

I spout loads of advice on safety equipment, cheap deals on tack, and odd places to shop for cheap equipment.  So at the end of the day, you may wonder what I have in my tack room.  Well, welcome to my tack room.  Prepare to be disappointed.

This is before I did my “pregnancy cleaning”. There is even less stuff now.

“So fancy and so organized, you must be one of ‘those’ people.” Not going to lie, it only looked like this while I was pregnant and not really riding, thus a lot of time on my hands.  Before we go into the list, I would like to point out that I am a bit of a minimalist as far as tack and equipment goes.

One thing I would like to point out in my “Less is More” attitude on tack and equipment, this works for my horses.  You will rarely see me ride with boots on my horses, at shows yes, at home or lessons, no.  “I would NEVER ride Fluffy Pony without his super fancy protective boots.”  There is nothing wrong with that.  My horses are not green, they are not super klutzy, and they live outside 24/7, thus they know how to WTC (Walk, Trot, and Canter) without killing themselves.  If your horse is green or “special” by all means use boots but I calculate that I save 2-5 hours a year by not putting on boots/wraps.  “Isn’t that time worth it to prevent injury to your horse?”  Yes however, most boots and wraps only provide bang protection as we have covered in my article on boots, and since my horses aren’t doing heavy training of any kind, they will be fine.  In 25 years of riding like this, Emma has stepped on herself once while throwing a fit during a hack and she scraped a hole in the top of her coronet band.  It healed in a few weeks without incident, I gave her a day off.  I will however always use boots when schooling X-C.  I would also like to point out, boots aren’t allowed in the dressage arena so for me who is just now getting shoulder-in, my girls will be fine.  I will reconsider when I am doing passage and tempis.

Another thing to note about equipment: I have given an example below

  • Know the name of the piece:  Running Martingale
  • Know why you are using it:  My horse likes to throw his head up making the bit less effective.
  • Ensure it is properly fitted:  As you can see, it is adjusted to fit his body and the part doing the work is adjusted short enough that it is effective but not too short that it causes the horse discomfort
  • Is it still necessary:  We started using this a year ago and  he still throws his head.
Buddy is sporting a Centaur quarter sheet and a “dog towel”!

A bad example of answers would be something like “It’s a 5 point breastplate, I got it because everyone has one, it’s loose here and here but who cares, he has always had a breastplate and they look pretty.”  We hear this time and time again, someone wants a piece of equipment because Sally Barnbuddy has one and so surely my horse needs it too.  “Sally Barnbuddy has all the cool new stuff, she got a glitter shim pad last week, I totally need a glitter shim pad!”  Do you have saddle fit issues?  “Why would my perfect new CWD saddle not fit Fluffy Pony?”  Well if your saddle fits then you don’t need a shim pad.  “But Sally has one!”  Yeah oooookkkkaaaayyy.  Discuss with your trainer or a professional before changing things, they may have some ideas on why you should or should not modify.

So what things do I use?  Lets just make a list:

  • Dressage Saddle: Bates Isabell buffalo hide, older model, with Bates Webbers and plain old fillis stirrups
  • Jumping saddle:
    Lily in her Wellfleet “show” bridle

    Ovation Tierra Monoflap, Smarpak Lined leathers, and another pair of plain old fillis stirrups.

  • Bridles:
    • Show Bridles: Wellfleet(Smartpak), Edgewood
    • Schooling Bridles: Courbette, Harwich(Smartpak)
    • A few no name ones and some parts kicking around
    • Browbands, Chameleon Browbands and HPF Designs
    • Bits: Happy mouth elevator, happy mouth pelham (for the 5 times Emma did hunter classes), Happy mouth boucher,
    • Hackamores:  plain old english one, a barrel racing one that I added fleece to.
  • Saddle Pads:
    Emma getting longlined
    • Schooling: baby pads, and a few that I have had for 15+ years
    • Show: Smartpak, Dover, Roma, Whatever was on sale in a color I like
    • Half Pads: Miller foam front riser, Thinline, thinline extra thick (For Emma)
  • Strap Goods
    • No Name 5 point breastplate for Emma
    • Courbette Breast Collar
  • Girths
    • Smartpak Dressage Girth
    • Lettia Dressage girth
    • Tredstep Dressage girth
  • Back on Track Quick Wraps
  • Back on Track Back Therapeutic Back Pad
  • Ice Vibe Boots

    Lily fell asleep the first time she used Ice Vibe boots.
  • Roma Open Front Boots (Emma)
  • Woof Club Brushing Boots (Lily)
  • Professional Choice Splint boots (Schooling)
  • Ariat paddock boots
  • No name half chaps
  • Smartpak Solstice Tall Waterproof Leather Boots (Not going to lie, I love these things)
  • My White Plastic IRH $36 helmet, for everyday riding*
  • I Rock N Ride, My saddle mounted speaker
  • Blankets: Centaur, Bit of Britain, and Riders International (my least favorite of the 3)  Oh and Amigo for Buddy the Donkey.
  • Tack bags: Schneider’s Saddlery, all but a few (if you don’t know them, you should) and Kensington tote bags, love them for boots and wraps.
  • Thinline Bareback pad, I highly recommend this one if you are in the market.
  • Whatever I didn’t list, is probably no name or whatever was on sale, feel free to ask though.

As you can see, I am not very high tech or exciting.  “Lame sauce, I thought you were supposed to be fancy and high tech?  What about at shows, do you wear that stupid white helmet?  I would totally make fun of you if I saw you.”  First of all, high tech can be expensive, second of all, I want my stuff to not break so I make sure it goes through a lot of trials by other people first.  No I do not wear my white helmet to shows, I wish I was that bold but alas I am not.

Show stuff:

  • Shirts: Smartpak has some nice ones with mesh underarms for $25 on sale, Ariat, RJ Classics.
  • Stock Ties: I havent found a “Brand” that I like but I am all about the pre-tied.  I keep an old school one in my bag for emergencies, and yes I know how to tie it.
  • Breeches: Piper, Ariat, Kerrits(I love the white ones with the black full seat and yes, I do my dressage in them)
  • Tall Boots: Ariat Monaco, yes my boots cost almost as much as my saddle, I have funny shaped feet, these fit and make me happy and are slightly cheaper than custom.
  • Helmet:  I was a die hard IRH fan but they are harder to find now, so I got a One K this year, I really like it and it was under $250 with tax etc.
  • Gloves: Heritage and SSG
  • Jackets:
    • Dressage: Pikeur (I only have 1 dressage coat)
    • Jumping: RJ classics, Horseware (Super affordable and washable), Asmar, and an old Pychley
  • Socks: Whatever fun knee high socks I find at Target
  • Cross Country Vest:  After writing my article on this, Tack of the Day had some on sale so I just got a Charles Owen UltraLite for $150.

“Wow, you are super lame.”  Yeah, I accept that.  “Engineers make money, where the hell is all of it going?”  To horse shows!  To be honest, having a farm outside of Houston takes a fair bit of money and my rule is to “pay cash” for all of my horse things as these are a luxury.  You won’t see me making payments on a horse, saddle, trailer, or even a credit card for all the unfun tack I have.  It’s a rule I made back when I bought my first horse after college, I don’t even put my shows on credit card, those get paid by check.  “But still, don’t you think your horse deserves nice things?”  Let’s be honest, if a saddle fits, a saddle fits, they won’t know if its an Antares or a Wintec and they don’t care.

The Mini EE “helping” feed.

“What about all the breast plates, boots, and fancy pads for your horses?”  Well, the more stuff you put on your horse, the hotter it is, and it’s hot in Texas, plus, its more stuff that you have to remember when you go to a show.  Also, I was in Pony Club for years, any piece of tack or equipment had to be spotlessly clean for formal inspections, I am not a fan of cleaning tack.  Less tack = less tack cleaning!  Also, to be transparent, I had a lot of “stuff” for Emma in the early days, standing martingales, running martingales, every type of horse boot out there, fancy pads, different bits, I sold all of that stuff when either she absolutely HATED it or it didn’t improve her performance or disposition.


Disclaimer:  I am not a saddle fitter, I do not own a tack shop, I am not as organized as the pictures show.  I do use my tack room as a feed room, chick brooder, cat house, and feed storage facility.  I am of the camp that “devices” on horses are rather unnecessary and thus I don’t own any other than side reins to go with my lounge cavesson and surcingle.  I do make a tiny percentage of anything you buy on amazon through the links provided, this helps to cover the cost of this page.

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