Favorite bareback pads

Cross-posting from dressage and I’m sure that this is a perennial question, but…

I like to hack out on my gelding as much as possible and after two summers of doing so, I feel like my seat has really improved. I live in the PNW, so it rains three-quarters of the year and I’d like to continue riding out into the fall/winter but I am certainly not going to do it in my leather dressage saddle.

I’m thinking of getting a synthetic bareback pad or one of those Cashel soft saddles for trail riding in the rain and general schooling. I’d like something that provides a little extra security (something at least a little bit sticky, and maybe with contoured padding) and that (if possible) does not promote too much of a chair seat. I’m the size of a 12 year old, so I’m not that concerned with weight distribution. Any favorites/recommendations? I’m leaning toward the Best Friends pad but am pretty open to anything. My gelding has pretty well-defined withers, a bit of a dip to his back, and is very wide.

To make this more relevant to this forum, my dressage gelding is an energetic Arabian and I’d actually love to get into endurance or CTR, but with a toddler and no trailer I just have no time/opportunities. Hopefully when my kid is older I can give it a try, and when the time comes I will get a dedicated endurance/trail saddle.

Okay, I’ll jump in. I purchased a very comfy (for me) cashel-type bareback pad a few years ago but it really bit into my fellow’s withers. I ended up giving it to a kid’s lesson stable and I then bought a Skito High Wither bareback pad with the pad inserts. Not cheap but I sure like it, I think my horse likes it, and anyone I loan it to likes it. You can use a dressage girth with it, too. Besides high withers my boy also has a forward girth groove so I use my Ovation Gel Form Girth that is crescent-shaped.

Ridingwarehouse is where I purchased it. They have superb customer service and will really work with you to make you happy. A great resource for newbie endurance questions, too!

I like my Best Friends brand, I just wish it would accommodate a breast collar. My big-moving TWH walks out of it over time- it’s the shimmy in his git along :slight_smile:

I like that it has two pockets for stuff…I don’t love the girth, it’s really skinny- that’s the only thing i don’t like…

I like the thinline bareback pad. I feel the most secure in it by far.

Thanks for the input! I found a great deal on a barely-used Thinline bareback pad. Glad to know it’s sticky. I’m looking forward to using it!

I also have the Skito High withers pad; I got it just for hacking around on my shark-withered horse. It definitely allowed me to ride bareback, which is too painful (for me) without a pad. But, I can’t feel a thing through it (I can feel more of her back movement in my saddle), and the girth buckles are bulky and awkward for me. Also, it’s so thick that I have to put some effort into it to give her a leg or heel aide. None of those things really matter in our case, as all I’m doing is bopping around the property with this thing, and the pad does make it possible to ride without being violated “down there.”

Just out of curiosity, though, do others not feel comfortable riding in their leather saddles in the rain? I just figure that if the leather is decently conditioned, before and after, the saddle would be fine (but that may be because at one point I had a BM from Scotland, and she never worried about weather). My dressage saddle has seen rain, mud, snow, and scorching sun, but to me it seems to look pretty much the same as when it was new, mostly.

My dressage saddle has Vienna leather on it and does not seem to handle getting wet all that well. I would be OK with the occasional sprinkle but it rains every day here for most of the year, and I think getting my leather saddle wet that often is a bad idea. The good news is that the Thinline pad is fantastic and that combined with a neck strap, I will be very comfortable trail riding on it.

Thinline bareback pad sounds awesome - just what I need, another bareback pad! I have two - a Best Friends and a Toklat. I think the Toklat, because of its fluffiness, is better for my horse’s back, but it would certainly absorb water if you’re trail riding in the rain. Then you’d be on a soggy bareback pad - soggier than if you were on a wet horse. I don’t really care for the girth placement on either (especially where it goes over the back/withers) pad, but for short rides (hour or so) it is okay. I have been tempted to put a Thinline or something under it but haven’t done that just yet. On days I’ve felt brave (or stupid), I’ve just ridden in a navajo blanket - no girthing at all! :eek:

I see you found one from ThinLine which I am sure will be great. I use a ThinLine half pad and love it. My favorite bareback pad though is the Best Friends Comfort Plus. Comfortable with a nice soft, cushioned seat that puts a good buffer between my butt bone and my mares backbone. It doesn’t slip either which makes it even better because she sweats pretty heavily and we go on a lot of hilly trails. Good luck with the ThinLine and if it doesn’t work check out the Best Friends pad.

Anything synthetic suede. Just remember bareback pads are not made to be used with irons. Get a treeless saddle for trail riding.

Another vote for the Thinline bareback pad. I use one on my ottb and feel pretty secure with it :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=SharonA;8254147]

Just out of curiosity, though, do others not feel comfortable riding in their leather saddles in the rain? I just figure that if the leather is decently conditioned, before and after, the saddle would be fine (but that may be because at one point I had a BM from Scotland, and she never worried about weather). My dressage saddle has seen rain, mud, snow, and scorching sun, but to me it seems to look pretty much the same as when it was new, mostly.[/QUOTE]

I don’t mind riding in the rain in my leather saddles. I do condition them and they come back fine. The saddle I use for dressage, tho, a Courbette AP “Magic” saddle, is supposed to be made of waterproof leather, lol. So if I am trail riding in the rain I will use that one if there are no jumps in sight.

I have a bareback pad that looks like the Thinline but I don’t remember the brand. I never use it, tho, because if I’m going to truly ride bareback I just throw a Mattes 1/2 back pad + cashel riser pad (for cushioning my Tb withers) on. Having no girth keeps me centered, lol.

Apparently the super cheap freemax saddles that were rip offs of the Freeform saddles are pretty decent.

I have had this one for over 10 years and I just love it:

https://horsedreamimporters.com/products/bareback-pad-basic-plus?sku=6301-262-WB

Not a bareback pad suggestion, but I wear an Asmar All weather rider coat – has a lovely skirt that covers my legs and saddle and keeps everything dry.

The arctic rider skirts could also be an option. https://arctichorsegear.com/collections/waterproof-riding-skirts/products/tongass-long-rain-skirt

Not as cheap and easy as a bareback pad, but you could still do all your normal riding!

I also love the thinline bareback pad!

[QUOTE=sophie;8904247]I don’t mind riding in the rain in my leather saddles. I do condition them and they come back fine. The saddle I use for dressage, tho, a Courbette AP “Magic” saddle, is supposed to be made of waterproof leather, lol. So if I am trail riding in the rain I will use that one if there are no jumps in sight.

I have a bareback pad that looks like the Thinline but I don’t remember the brand. I never use it, tho, because if I’m going to truly ride bareback I just throw a Mattes 1/2 back pad + cashel riser pad (for cushioning my Tb withers) on. Having no girth keeps me centered, lol.[/QUOTE]

I’m in the PNW and have an ankle=length waterproof nylon raincoat, Goretex knockoff “breathable” membrane, from the Australian Outback coat people. It covers the saddle, and has snaps that close around the rider’s thighs. It keeps me dry for a good hour before the humidity starts to build up, and it protects the saddle quite well.

Some leather just does seem to handle rain better. My jump saddle seems impervious, but my dressage saddle is softer leather. I wouldn’t want to have either of them fully exposed to heavy rain for an hour, but the raincoat protects them enough that they only get a tiny bit damp.