Layering saddle pads?

So I’ve been seeing that some western disciplines, like team ropers, have two saddle pads when riding. Usually a thin blanket underneath and a felt pad or similar on top.
I know part of it depends on the horse/saddle fit, but what can anyone tell me how beneficial or necessary that is and if so, what kind of bottom/top pads do you recommend?

Ropers use thick padding to protect, cushion the horse from the impact of weight of cattle hitting the end of the rope. Thin pad or blanket is against the hair to collect sweat and dirt, be easy to wash often. Thicker pad above stays cleaner, is often wool, so it does not get washed. Might get “cleaned” by hosing or brushing off dirt, but not washed in a machine. Hung to drip dry.

Arena roping horse padding may be different than how Ranch hands pad under their saddles, because cowhands may ride all day. Not just short times in competition. Can’t sore up their horses, who will need to be used again soon, even with a string of horses for the hands.

And of course pleasure riding, showing or trail, will probably be different padding than what working ranch or roping horses wear. They are doing different work, may only wear thick blankets. Add in “current styles” for the show ring, and those folks will be different again.

There is such a thing as “too much” padding and blankets under a saddle, causing teetering way up there! Ha ha Very hard to girth firmly with really thick padding, unless you cut the horse in half. Padding squashes under pressure, but not enough to always have a firm saddle under you. Saddle may be a gorgeous work of art for Western showing, but not actually fit every horse they put it on. So judicious padding gets them thru the class, collect their ribbon, without hurting the horse.

No recommends here, I am stuck in the past with my saddle pads! I want washable, easy care, keeps my horse from getting sore in use. I often wash them every couple days to keep them “fresh” on my horse’s back. No dirt, no old salt, not wet. I feel a sore backed horse would be my fault, BAD rider guilt! So I do my best to prevent that from ever happening. I haven’t really been impressed with wool pads on long riding days, but lots of folks love them. They are pretty expensive, you should have more than one to insure it is dry that day. And they take work to stay nice over time.

How do you plan to use your horse? That will help us with suggestions for you. Does his western saddle fit pretty well with just a towel between saddle and horse? That is how I start with knowing my saddle fits the horse well. Thin bath towel allows you to feel where horse rubs or gaps away from the saddle. Is it pinching withers or too wide causing pressure points? You have to run your hand around under the saddle to learn the truth in proper fitting.

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I use two pads on my cutting/sorting background horse when riding western --and a baby pad and a shimmed fleece pad when riding English. Horse has withers like a camel and really low hung ribs! Anyway, Western I use a Professional’s Choice pad on the bottom and a wool weave (Navajo?} on top --Guess I could do it the other way. The saddle fitter said my horse needed “a little extra” because of his high withers to keep the saddle off his withers. I don’t rope with him, or cut and sort (but there’s pretty cool video of him doing that with the owner before me) – Horse is very particular about his saddle fit.

Many moons ago when I team roped we used a navajo under a pad to keep from burning a horse’s back when the newer synthetic/neoprene pads came out. Supposedly they were better for shock absorption but would build heat under them next to the skin on hot days or multiple runs. I’m good about uncinching and cooling a horse’s back regardless of what I’m doing but a lot of people aren’t.

Most see blankets on top of pads as a show topper but I’ve put the wool blanket under a pad as well especially the canvas style topped work pads, they tend to spit a blanket out the back when they are new.

Usually, the thin blanket serves as a saddle pad liner, to keep the saddle pad cleaner.

I myself can never seen to get such a liner or blanket to lay flat and the way I want it, so I just deal with dirty saddle pads, LOL. (Just pressure washed them last night!!)