Western pads are for the western rider what the dressage saddle pad is for the dressage rider. Due to the fact that the western saddle has a different shape and, more importantly, is heavier, western pads are usually uniformly rectangular in cut. Compared to saddle pads or rugs, they are thickly padded to distribute the weight of the saddle and rider evenly. They also provide some shock absorption.
Western pads are often found in colourful patterns inspired by Native American style, and a thick sheepskin lining on the underside ensures that the horse's back is protected. A leather insert at fender level prevents the fabric from becoming frayed. Western pads are constantly being developed further, so in addition to different materials, there are now also different types of ventilation and other functional features to suit the respective training purpose.