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Which horse saddle pad is best for summer?

The long, lazy days of summer are among the best times to hit the ring or trail with your equine companion. Riding a horse as the sun sinks over a summer sky or rises above a meadow filled with flowers and tall grasses is a relaxing way to experience warmer weather, but only if both you and your horse are comfortable. You’ll need to spend some time selecting the best clothes for the ride, but you’ll also need to choose the best saddle pad for warmer weather. 

How horse saddle pads for summer work

The best saddle pads have two essential functions.

  • They wick moisture: Moisture trapped against a horse’s skin continues to heat up as the ride goes on. 
  • They allow airflow: Airflow is an essential component of keeping your horse cool during a long ride. 

Saddle pad for summer materials

Pads are available in a variety of materials, but the best for horseback riding in warm weather are wool, natural fleece and cotton. These are breathable, absorbing moisture and letting it evaporate well away from your horse’s body. This keeps your horse cool and comfortable when the mercury soars.

Saddle pad for summer features

Easy care

Your horse is going to get sweaty, and that wetness is absorbed by the pad that protects it. Dirty saddle pads can cause skin irritation and may even produce unwanted behavior if the horse feels uncomfortable. Look for saddle pads that can be brushed clean with a stiff brush or tossed in the wash.

Billet loops and girth straps

Billet loops and girth straps help keep the saddle pad in place underneath your saddle. This simple feature means your saddle won’t slip during hard work.

Wear leathers

Wear leathers protect the parts of the pad that see the most friction. This includes the bottom of each side of the pad where your legs contact it, as well as the spinal channel and just in front of the withers. 

Contoured shape

Your saddle pad should not press against the horse’s withers or spine. A contoured shape, common among western saddle pads, can help relieve painful pressure in this area. 

Ample coverage

Your saddle pad should extend at least 1 inch beyond the front and back of the saddle and well below flaps on the side. Most come in a variety of sizes so you can customize the fit to your horse.

Are saddle pads for summer worth it?

If your horse is uncomfortable, it will let you know. This might mean pinned ears, a reluctance to go forward or even rearing or bucking. A warm-weather saddle pad can be purchased for $25-$150, and it’s a worthwhile investment in your horse’s comfort — and your safety.

Which saddle pads are best for summer?

Dover Saddlery Quilted All-Purpose Saddle Pad

Dover Saddlery Quilted All-Purpose Saddle Pad 

The cotton stays cool against your horse and provides protection from rubbing. It easily absorbs sweat and goes right in the washing machine. It’s available in 10 colors and features contrast piping for a distinctive look. 

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Weaver Leather Contoured Wool Blend Felt Saddle

Weaver Leather Contoured Wool Blend Felt Saddle 

Tan wool-blend felt wicks moisture away from your horse, keeping it cool and dry even in the steamiest weather. The pad is contoured to follow the curve of the horse’s spine and also features a channel and wither cut out to protect the spine. Wear leathers on the spine and sides of the pad make this pad durable and long-lasting.

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Challenger English Quilted Fleece Padded Dressage Saddle Pad With Pockets

Challenger English Quilted Fleece Padded Dressage Saddle Pad With Pockets 

This pad features a comfortable fleece lining and a classic quilted top. It’s designed for the dressage style of riding and accommodates a longer stirrup position. The pocket is great for holding treats for clicker training (or a snack for the rider). It’s a little warmer than some, but offers additional padding for a horse that needs it.

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Tough 1 EquiRoyal Square Quilted Cotton Comfort English Saddle Pad

Tough 1 EquiRoyal Square Quilted Cotton Comfort English Saddle Pad 

This pad is an easy-care everyday pad that’s comfortable for the horse. It’s available in eight colors and has both girth and billet strap loops for more saddle stability. The cotton twill cover houses a shock-absorbing layer, too.

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Equine Couture Matte All-Purpose Saddle Pad

Equine Couture Matte All-Purpose Saddle Pad 

This gently contoured all-purpose saddle pad is lined with moisture-wicking CoolMax lining. It has a billet keeper and a girth loop for increased stability, and its generous size fits a wide variety of horses and their saddles.

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Equine Comfort Products All-Purpose Diamond Quilted Saddle Pad

Equine Comfort Products All-Purpose Diamond Quilted Saddle Pad 

This unicorn of a saddle pad works for both English and smaller western saddles. It has temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking properties. It’s available in four colors and also has billet straps to keep your saddle secure. Note that it’s hand-wash only.

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Royal House Gel Saddle Pad

Royal House Gel Saddle Pad 

This pad is designed to be used under the saddle but on top of another pad. It takes the pressure off of a horse’s spine and prevents sores and rubbing if a horse’s topline is lacking muscle. It’s used to increase a horse’s comfort. The pad has holes for airflow and cooling and it’s easy-clean; just rinse with water and let it dry between uses.

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Equine Comfort Products Diamond Quilted Contoured Western Saddle Pad

Equine Comfort Products Diamond Quilted Contoured Western Saddle Pad 

If your horse needs some padding along its topline but you don’t want to add another pad, this is a great choice. It has shims made of memory foam that can be adjusted or removed as your horse needs. The fabric is cooler and moisture-wicking.

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