The most common type of half pad is probably the sheepskin pad. It provides a shock-absorbing and back-protecting effect.
Gel pads are used to compensate for unevenness in the saddle or to make a saddle that does not fit perfectly more comfortable for the horse. For example, this can be achieved by choosing a half pad that raises the rear part of the saddle.
Anti-slip pads made of neoprene or with rubber coating keep the saddle in place. This may be necessary for horses with less pronounced withers.
In general, half pads have one thing in common: they should distribute the pressure from the saddle evenly over the entire horse's back, thus relieving the pressure on the horse.
The half pad lies between the horse's back and the saddle. It is designed to protect the horse's back by distributing the pressure of the saddle and rider evenly. It can be made of thick woollen fabric, sheepskin, gel or foam. At the same time, there should not be too much material between the saddle and the horse's back, to ensure that the fit of the saddle is not negatively affected. Western riders usually use Western pads made of a thick woollen material. These pads are very large and therefore fit western saddles well.
In general, the pad should lie on the horse's back over a large area in order to be able to distribute the pressure as widely as possible. The material must be thin but shock absorbing and soft. In addition, it should be soft enough to fit snugly to the horse's back.
Half pads are available in various designs. They can be made of sheepskin, have gel padding or replaceable panels, be filled with air, or offer front or rear elevation.
Ultimately, they all serve to correct minor flaws in the fit of your saddle and to reduce the pressure on the horse's back by distributing it comfortably.
This helps you to adjust your saddle a little better, for example when your horse is in the growth phase or is being retrained after a break.
Half pads come in a choice of styles. Choose one based on the function you'd like it to fulfil. For example, if you want extra shock absorbing properties or to distribute the pressure of the saddle and rider better on the horse's back, gel pads are excellent. The gel in this type of pad spreads under the saddle and compensates well for minor fit issues.
Sheepskin offers excellent breathability, as the natural material absorbs moisture well and provides good ventilation. At the same time, a sheepskin pad also offers a shock-absorbing effect.
You can also choose a riser. These are half pads that have inserts at the front or rear to slightly raise your saddle and keep it more level. It is best to think about what you want the half pad to achieve before buying it, then choose based on that.