Saddle Pad Tips from 5 Star Equine Products: Q&A

Do you have the right saddle pad for your horse’s overall performance and comfort? Learn this and more from the owner of 5 Star saddle pads!

Saddle pads serve an important purpose in keeping our horses comfortable, performing better and ensuring optimum pressure distribution.  Choosing the right saddle pad can be overwhelming, with so many options on the market. Once you understand what a saddle pad is supposed to do, finding the right manufacturer is a lot simpler. Let Terry Moore, owner of 5 Star Equine Products, help you find the right saddle pad for your horse.

What are the benefits of using an all-wool pad?

The qualities of wool allow it to remove heat by wicking away sweat, thus cooling your horse. Using only 100% pure virgin wool in the manufacturing of 5 Star Saddle Pads allows the pad to remove heat and wick away moisture from your horse’s back more effectively than other materials. They are made with the highest quality F10 Rated Pure Wool Felt available and are made with a Compression rating of 6.0 to 7.0 PSI and a Tensile strength of 200 PSI. Even better, with proper care 5 Star pads will maintain this strength and quality for more than 2,000 hours of riding time.

What does 6.0 to 7.0 PSI mean?

The compression ratio of 5 Star 100% Pure Virgin Wool Felt is 6.0 to 7.0 PSI, meaning that it protects against pressure points at a rate of 6 to 7 pounds per square inch to help protect your horses’ back.

What is tensile strength?

Tensile strength is the ability of the wool felt to stand up to tearing apart or separating. 5 Star's Industrial grade F10 100% pure virgin wool felt can withstand 200 pounds per square inch before it begins to break apart or separate, giving your 5 Star pad optimal longevity.

How do I care for my wool saddle pad?

  • To remove embedded hair and dirt, rotate a dry 5 Star cleaning sponge, which is included with each 5 Star saddle pad purchase, in a circular motion on dry pad. Wipe the hair off of your 5 Star cleaning sponge surface with your hand occasionally.
  • For pads with heavy crusted sweat and dirt, break up these areas with a rubber fingered curry or scrape gently with a dull-edged object, being careful not to cut the felt. Use a vacuum to remove excess grime and loose material. A brush or a swift slap with your hand may also be used to sweep away dirt and hair.
  • Wash after more than 100 hours of use or when the pad is beginning to feel hard in the pressure point zones (shoulder points and loin areas). Avoid using soap, but if you must,  use Woolite or your favorite horse shampoo to not risk irritating your horse. 
  • When washing, wash pad from the center to the outer edges in all directions.  Simply hang or hold pad by the gullet hole and begin rinsing from the center to outer edges of the pad.
  • Hang the pad by the gullet hole or lay naturally over a rail.  A best practice for all saddle pads, do not lay the pad on its back to dry. Doing so could stretch the leather and pull out the inner lacing, as well as drive dirt and sweat salts into the pad.
  • After pad is dry, flex pad in the areas that have not softened. This will fluff and loosen the felt which restores optimum compression protection. 
  • How do you recommend storing a 5 Star Pad?

    Hang your pad on a rack or fold and lay it flat on a shelf. Never place your saddle on top of your pad on a rack for storage! Your 100% pure virgin wool pad needs a chance to dry and breathe in between rides. This simple method of storage will prolong the life of your pad and help ensure many years of protection for your horse’s back.

    How does a wool saddle pad help cool a horse's back?

    The properties of 100% pure virgin wool felt allow it to wick 20X its weight in moisture, which in turn removes heat. Wool breathes and doesn't trap heat like synthetics.

    What thickness of saddle pad should I choose?

    Thickness will depend on length of time in the saddle and weight of rider. However, here’s a general guideline to determine pad thickness:

    1/2": Best for showing, reining, cutting or pleasure horses when you still need protection, yet want to put a colorful blanket over the under pad for show purposes

    3/4": Best for daily training sessions of one hour or less. Can be used under a thin blanket to show

    7/8": Best all-around thickness for regular use, recommended for trail riding, team penning, cutting, reining and barrel racing. Minimum recommended thickness for gear/rider weight combinations of 200 lbs. or more, or for rides of more than four hours at a time or over rough terrain.

    1": Best for heavier riders or for especially long or hard use. Designed with ranch work in mind, for roping, performance, colt starting or packing.

    1 1/8" "Supreme Roper" thickness: Specially engineered for team roping, calf roping, steer stopping and performance.

    Would a low wither/mule contour be better for my mutton-withered horse?

    The low wither/mule contour is ideal for the flat-backed, wide-shouldered horse that has little to no wither. It also works great for the unique body shape of mules. However, please be sure that you truly do have a low-withered horse, or you may be frustrated with your pad not conforming well into the dip of your horse's back.

    My horse has prominent withers. Will 5 Star's Horse Contour work?

    Most of the time, the normal horse contour will work, even for horses with fairly high withers. However, for horses with high withers that really do need extra clearance, 5 Star recommends the no-gullet hole option , as this allows the contour to continue up and over the wither, thus allowing for a higher clearance over the withers creating no pressure in the wither area. A flex fit cutout option is also available for extremely high withers and for performance horses and trail riding. The wither area is cutback, creating no pressure over the withers and allowing the pad to curve down into the unique back line of an extremely high withered horse.  This option is also great for horses with muscle atrophy.

    The flex fit cutout and no gullet hole option are both available by special order from Valley Vet Supply.

    Can different horses ride the same pad, or is it better for each horse to have their own pad?

    The short answer is “yes.” The recommendation is, if you can afford to, it is always best to have one pad per horse. Just as the structure and build of humans is different, so is that of horses. The 5 Star pads are 100% pure felt and, as it heats up, will contour around the horses build. The benefit is that it fits that horse like a glove and will reduce movement during your riding or performance.

    Are 5 Star saddle pads manufactured in the USA?

    Yes, all saddle pads are manufactured in Hatfield, Arkansas.

    Do you need a pad cover with these pads?

    5 Star does not recommend double padding, as it creates more opportunity for slipping.

    How do I select a saddle pad for draft horses?

    Custom saddle pads are available from 5 Star. Customers can reach out directly to Valley Vet Supply to coordinate all custom 5 Star orders.

    How long does it take to make and ship a custom saddle pad?

    5 Star is about four to five weeks out on custom orders?? For a more up-to-date estimate, please contact Valley Vet Supply Customer Service, or message us on Facebook.

    What is the most popular type, size and thickness for a barrel pad?

    5 Star’s most popular pad is the All Around. It is 30/30 7/8” thick. They also sell nearly as many of the All Around 30/30 ¾” thick.

    What is the best saddle pad for a wide, short-backed Thoroughbred?

    Depending on the saddle and how long you ride, you may consider a 7/8” or ¾” padding. The All Around or Performance are both good options, whatever fits your saddle length or width. In most cases, a thinner pad might be a better fit.

    Is the All-Around pad good for trail riding a mule, or is there a different pad that would be better?

    Often, mules use a 30” long/30” wide; however, they are using the mule contoured pad because mules do not usually have a wither. 5 Star’s mule contour will fit the back a lot closer and a lot cleaner.

    Are dry spots a pad or a saddle issue?

    Dry spots are often caused by the saddle. Even the best pad cannot solve an ill-fitting saddle. If the size of the dry spot is the size of a coke can or smaller, it is due to the saddle being too tight. If it is the size of your hand or larger, make sure it doesn’t get sore. You can always try a thinner pad, but more often than not, it is a saddle issue.

    What is the purpose of the wither opening on the pad?

    This is known as the “flex fit.” When you have a high-withered horse, if you let your pad fall down around the wither, it will cause pressure, and your horses will react to it. 5 Star built the flex fit with the opening so riders need not reposition the pad. Flex Fit comes in every thickness that 5 Star builds.

    How do you know when to replace your horse saddle pad?

    If you have taken care of your saddle pad and the horse does not show any signs of soreness, there is no need to replace it. However, if the pad is torn, getting worn or has a lot of indentation in it, it is a good indication that it is time to replace the pad.

    The correct padding for your horse is essential to ensure proper comfort, performance and health. Continue learning, with these important tips on proper saddle fit and selecting a bit for your horse.

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