As a rider, you’ll know how much different equipment is needed for you and your horse – some of it we probably don’t even need but we buy it anyway! However, one thing that’s essential for your horse’s comfort is a good quality saddle pad.

Before we go any further – what does a saddle pad do? For those of you new to riding who might not know what the purpose of a saddle pad actually is, it’s quite simple really.

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A saddle pad fits under the saddle against the horse’s skin, and has a few key uses – to cushion the saddle, provide support and protection for the horse’s back, and to absorb sweat.

There are a few different types of saddle pad, and it can be a little confusing as to which one to pick. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to buying the right type of saddle pad for your horse.

What are the different types of saddle pad?

Here are the main types of saddle pad you will likely encounter and what they’re used for…

Western vs English saddle pads

One of the most common distinctions between the types of saddle pad is whether they’re ‘western’ or ‘English’. The difference between western and English saddle pads is that they’re designed to go under their respective types of saddle.

Western saddle pads are designed more like blankets, shaped square or rectangular and mae from wool or similar material.

However, the type that most of you will more than likely be accustomed to is an English saddle pad, and these are types of pad we sell here at Country & Stable. English saddle pads are generally a bit thicker and more padded than western pads, and come in a few different shapes – some are rectangular or square, while some are more fitted and closely resemble the shape of your horse.

Dressage saddle pads

Dressage saddle pads are, of course, commonly used for those taking part in the discipline as they fit nicely under dressage saddles. However, they’re a very versatile piece of kit and can be used for regular hacking as well under most circumstances. They are available in a wide variety of styles and designs, including some that have rub protection, fur lining and extra grip. They will likely be made from foam or fibre.

Le Mieux dressage saddle pad
Pictured: Le Mieux Luxury Dressage Square

See our full range of dressage saddle pads

Jumping saddle pads

Like dressage pads, show jumping saddle pads are commonly used for that particular discipline but can be used for general everyday use as well. A good quality saddle pad is particularly important for jumpers who need extra shock absorption when they land. Again, they’re available in various styles and shapes to suit. Again, these will often be made from foam or fibre.

Rambo Non Slip Show Jumping Pad
Pictured: Rambo Non-slip Show Jumping Pad

See our full range of jumping saddle pads

Half saddle pads

Half saddle pads fit over the top of regular saddle pads for added protection and support, fitting more closely to the shape of the saddle and the contours of your horse’s back. This can make for a neater aesthetic as you won’t really see much of the pad under the saddle. They are available with padding or foam, just like regular saddle pads, but they can also be made from gel or neoprene.

Acavallo Just Gel Lambskin Front Riser Half Pad
Pictured: Acavallo Just Gel Lambskin Front Riser Half Pad

See our full range of half saddle pads

Gel saddle pads

If your horse has a particularly tender back – perhaps they’re recovering from an injury – or you want to provide a bit more support, then using a gel saddle pad is a good idea. They’re often half pads, fitting over a regular saddle pad, and can come with rear and front risers for support in that area of your horse’s back.

See our full range of gel saddle pads


Another term you may have heard in the same breath as saddle pads is ‘numnah’. But what is a numnah? Some will tell you that numnah and saddle pads are the same, but it’s a more a case that a numnah is a type of saddle pad. Saddle pads are usually more square in shape, whereas numnahs are more saddle-shaped.

See our full range of numnahs

Le Mieux Plain GP Jumping Numnah
Pictured: Le Mieux Plain GP Jumping Numnah

How to get the right fit saddle pad

How to choose the right size saddle pad is pretty straightforward, but it’s still very important to know to ensure you get the best fit for your horse. If you get a saddle pad that doesn’t fit properly then it’s probably going to be of more harm than good. The guide below is for English saddle pads:


Pony15 inches (front to back)
Cob15.5 – 16.5 inches
Full / horse17 inches +

View our full range of saddle pads for horses – or get in touch if you have any further questions.