Sheepskin pad benefit

Is it better to use a sheepskin half Pad on top of a cotton full pad or better to use a cotton bottomed thinline half Pad on top of a full pad with sheepskin under the saddle area? I would think it’s better to have the sheepskin directly contacting the horse’s back?

If your saddle fits correctly you don’t need either of these and they will affect your saddle fit.

I honestly couldn’t see using a thinline cotton pad on top of an integrated sheepskin dressage pad without wobbling around on top of a horse. If you need these for fit, then you need a new saddle.

Right now my mare has lost a little weight (good!) and both saddles are a little loose in the wither gullet. Waiting to connect with the saddle fitter. I am using an integrated sheepskin pad under the dressage saddle (mare likes this) and a sheepskin half pad plus cloth pad under the jump saddle. When the saddles fit properly again I will go back to just using a cloth pad under each.

I certainly prefer the close contact feel of just a cloth pad.


This is an older horse with a sway back and a prominent backbone. No matter what saddle I use, if it fits great in the gullet, I have to pad up the back a bit…cannot go to a custom saddle.

I use sheep’s wool pads (wool without the skin) and have for many years. I think it makes sense to have the wool next to the skin, because part of the benefit of the wool is that it wicks moisture from the back, as well as conforming to the contours of the moving back.

The latter point, to me, is why I think it’s better to use a wool pad with the saddle–even a wool stuffed saddle won’t dynamically conform to the back in the same way that the wool on the pad will.

The trick is, though, to fit your saddle with the pad, rather than adding a pad underneath a saddle that has been fit without one.


If he has a sway back you should try a 6 pocket sheepskin shim pad that has a shim pocket in the middle for bridging. That will let you shape the padding better than just adding multiple uniform layers of pads. I used a TSF 6 pocket shim on an older horse last year with good results.


Like people who like their clothes to fit a certain way, some horses just go better in what is not the stereotypical saddle fit. My PSG horse went the best is a slightly too big saddle with a thick sheepskin pad. I tried him in a bunch of different saddles with a bunch of different pad options over the years, and in the end, it is what worked the best for him.

If you get your saddle fitted knowing that you are going to be using a sheepskin pad underneath, so long as it fits correctly with the pad, there should not any saddle fit issues. My saddle was always fitted with the sheepskin pad.

I do agree that I would not use a separate cotton pad over a sheepskin pad - the way the sheepskin pads are designed, there is a spot for the saddle that would not work as intended with a cotton pad over it. The integrated pads are obviously a different story.

Whether or not the rider likes a closer feel of the back than a thick sheepskin pad is going provide is different issue.


Yes, absolutely a looser saddle plus sheepskin pad would work. But if the horse has a sway back, it would probably be better to use a shim pad rather than layers of uniform thickness that raise the saddle everywhere.

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I use a Thinline that I sewed sheepskin onto the underside over a BoT pad (in cooler weather) or a thin, wicking pad (in hot weather) on my horse who has lost his topline muscle due to PPID (Cushings).

IMO Sheepskin is best against the skin of the horse. I prefer the saddle pads with integrated sheepskin, but they are expensive and I also enjoy having colorful pads which aren’t likely to come with integrated sheepskin (unless they also come with epic price tags!). Therefore, I cut some half-pad shaped pieces out of a sheepskin rugs and I lay them under whatever pretty saddle pad I want to use. I mostly use my nice integrated ones for showing.

I’ve had one thin-skinned horse that demonstrated a clear preference for sheepskin against her skin and my new horse has lost a lot of topline due to Covid-forced inactivity so I feel that sheepskin is a good protectant for him at the moment. I have my saddles fitted with the sheepskin pads in place and have had no problems with this approach. I expect to switch back to regular pads (to which my saddles will be fitted) once the new horse muscles up.

Stumbled across this thread again. Wanted to say that I experimented and found I can put the large Mattes sheepskin half pad under the Ogilvy baby pad, it all fits fine, maresy loves it. I wouldnt have thought you could do this :), until I tried


Yes, it works quite well. When I was using my Mattes half pad, I always put it under my square pad (LeMieux). The half pad is black with no front or back roll, so visually, it is hardly noticeable.

I brushed mine out out a slicker brush (dog brush) and washed it once in awhile, still like new! Just don’t need it now/this saddle was fit without one, but worth keeping around anyway.

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Always best directly against the skin of the horse. All of mine seem to show a marked improvement/preference for the sheepskin directly on the back, so I bought a LeMieux. One of my geldings nuzzles the sheepskin while it’s on the fence during tack-up, it’s very cute. No issue with the integrated ones impacting saddle fit. I liked the LeMieux I got so much I bought three more of them while they were on sale:

P.S while out of fashion, you can buy sheepskin “numnahs” for dirt cheap even with import costs.

We are shepherds. I use the fleeces for a variety of uses around here, everything from supporting our rock driveway from erosion to tractor seat to dog beds to saddlepads! The lovely thing is how, when you use them they felt and when the get flattened down in the most used places you can add another layer of fleece that gets incorporated. I LOVE Icelandic sheep fleece precisely for the felt-ability!

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