Home » 9 Best Trail Saddle Pads Actually Worth Buying

9 Best Trail Saddle Pads Actually Worth Buying

Before saddling up for that long trail ride, ask yourself this important question.  Is my tack adequate for the comfort and health of my horse?  After all, they’re the one doing the walking and hard work.  

A properly fitted saddle pad is just as important as the fit of your saddle.  Use the wrong pad and your horse can overheat and develop sore spots.  The end result is an uncomfortable horse and a ride cut short.  A saddle pad worth buying wicks away sweat, reduces saddle sores and leaves your horse feeling comfortable the entire ride.  

Feel daunted by all the saddle pad choices for trail riders?  Luckily for you, I have compiled 9 of the best western saddle pads that every trail rider will love.  Pick your favorite and give it a try out on the trail.  I promise your horse will be happy and willing to take you many miles down the trail.

Here is the quick list of the 9 best trail saddle pads actually worth buying.

  1. Diamond Wool – The Rancher
  2. Diamond Wool – Contoured Rancher
  3. Diamond Wool – Round Barrel Rancher
  4. Classic Equine – BioFit Correction Felt Pad
  5. Southwestern Equine – OrthoRide Correction Saddle Pad
  6. Tough-1 Wool Western Saddle Pad
  7. Professionals Choice – Comfort Fit Tan Wool Pad
  8. Tough-1 Pachanga Contour Wool Saddle Pad
  9. Impact Gel Classic Contour Pad

Keep reading to learn why each made the list and how to pick the right one for you.

How do I choose a trail saddle pad

There are many choices when it comes to trail riding saddle pads.  However, choosing the right saddle pad for your horse can feel very overwhelming.  Let’s break down the key features of a trail riding saddle pad.  Once you recognize the important components, it will be easy for you to narrow down all the choices to just the very best.

Proper Fit

A saddle pad that fits your horse’s back perfectly is extremely important.  Saddle pads decrease the friction between your horse’s back and the saddle while providing plenty of cushion.  Saddle sores can occur with poorly fitting pads.  A pad that rubs incorrectly in the same spot over and over on a long trial ride can remove the hair and irritate your horse’s skin quite severely.

Most saddle pads are designed for horses with standard conformations.  Horses with extremely high or low withers and/or narrow shoulders benefit from wearing correction saddle pads.  These pads have cutouts or extra padding built-up in certain areas to correct how the pad and saddle rides on your horse’s back.   

Size

The size of the pad is also important.  A pad that’s too small or short won’t provide enough protection underneath the saddle.  A pad that is too big or long will rub along your horse’s flank and hips and potentially impede their mobility.  A good rule of thumb is to choose a pad that is 3 inches longer than your saddle.  This way the pad sticks out an inch or so in front of the saddle and a couple inches behind. 

Most new saddle pads are stiff (depending on the material) and require breaking in.  That’s okay.  As long as it’s a good design and quality material, it will contour to your horse’s back.  So take it easy and break in a new pad slowly over several shorter rides versus one long ride. 

Shape

Western saddle pads come in several shapes: square, contour square and barrel contour.  Like everything else, each shape has its advantage and disadvantage.   

A square saddle pad looks just like its name implies.  All edges are straight and it looks like a perfect rectangle underneath the saddle.  This is my go-to style for trail riding because the square shape provides more protection for my horse from rubbing saddle bags and other gear I have tied to the back of my saddle.  Square pads however are larger and weigh slightly more than a pad that is contoured.    

Contour square pads are just like square pads with straight edges along the front, back and bottom but they have a built in rise over the withers.  Some pads have cutouts in the wither section while others are solid.  These work great for horses with really high withers.  A square pad made of stiffer material will have an air gap just behind the withers because the straight cut can’t bend nicely along a very curvy spine.  

Barrel racing style saddle pads are shaped to match the exact contour of a round skirt western saddle.  They kind of look like English saddle pads but larger.  These are great for when you are running your horse and he’s bending a lot.  While barrel racing or pole bending for example.  The small pad profile doesn’t cut into their flank or hips when making sharp turns.  For trail riding purposes, since these pads are smaller, they cut down on weight.  However, they don’t provide as much protection from rubbing saddle bags.

Thickness

A good saddle pad should be thick enough to protect and cushion your horse’s back from the saddle.  A one inch thick wool or felt pad is sufficient since this material doesn’t compress down.  Fleece pads need to be thicker because they flatten down underneath the saddle and rider’s weight.

Avoid overly thick pads because they prevent the saddle from fitting tightly to your horse.  A bulky saddle pad will cause your saddle to slip easier.  Especially, if you lean to the side while riding.

Layering saddle pads is also an option to consider.  My plain saddle pad never bothers me when I’m out on the trail but if you prefer a more flashy style, you can buy a thin saddle blanket.  These are usually wool and come in a variety of colors and patterns.  Simply place this on top of your saddle pad.  Make sure to get one that is the same size or slightly larger to conceal the other pad underneath. 

Durability

Good quality tack is expensive and should last a long time.  Especially, if you take proper care of it.  Here are a few things to consider that will extend the life of your trail riding saddle pad.  After all, trail riding poses different circumstances than arena showing and other riding disciplines.  

Trail riding can be a dirty adventure.  Dusty and muddy trails, rain, snow, scratchy brush, and sweaty saddle bags are just some of the things your saddle pad will be exposed to.  Choosing a pad that has a canvas top or similar tough fabric protects the important padding underneath and prevents debris from sticking to it.  A smooth fabric is also easier to wipe off and clean than a woven wool or fluffy fleece.

Wear leather along the bottom edges of the pad also provides an extra layer of protection.  Specifically right where the cinch and saddle fenders rub.

Material

Material is probably the most important factor to consider when buying a saddle pad.  All the above features together makeup a great saddle pad but the material it’s made of determines slippage, breathability and heat dissipation.  

Keeping your horse from feeling damp and chilled during a ride is crucial for their comfort and health.  

Felted wool is by far the best material on the market for trail riding saddle pads.  

Wool breathes and wicks moisture away from your horse’s back.  Yet is also dries slowly so they don’t cool too quickly.  Wool pads also don’t slip or get wrinkles when your horse sweats.  These features, combined with its ability to contour perfectly to your horse’s back and saddle, make felted wool saddle pads my number one choice.  

There are other materials such as felt, fleece, gel and combinations of each.  However, none compare to amazing properties of natural felted wool.  Give your horse the best saddle pad so he can comfortably take you where ever the trail leads.  

Buying a good trail saddle pad

When it comes to buying a good trail saddle pad, take into consideration the features I mentioned above.  There are several brands on the market which meet all of those criteria and I will list them below.  

You can buy saddle pads online or at your local tack shops.  Make sure you understand the return policy before buying in case you get the wrong fit or size for your horse.  Also, you can expect to pay between $70 – $250 for these quality saddle pads.  Shop around and you might find a good deal or a sale.  Just remember, these excellent pads will last you many years, if not the lifetime of your horse, and are worth every penny.

Take a quick look at this comparison chart of the 9 best trail riding saddle pads.  I go over each in more detail below, so keep reading.

SaddlePriceSizeShapeColorMaterial
Diamond Wool – The Rancher$9930”x30” 32”x32”Square19 colors, Solids & Patterns1” Felted Wool, Duck canvas, Wear leathers
Diamond Wool – Contoured Rancher$120 – $14330”x30” 32”x32”Contour square19 colors, Solids & Patterns1” Felted Wool, Duck canvas, Wear leathers
Diamond Wool – Round Barrel Rancher$9930”x30”Barrel contour17 colors, Solids & Patterns1” Felted Wool, Duck canvas, Wear leathers
Classic Equine – BioFit Correction Felt Pad$180 – $23030”x30” 31”x32”Contour squareDark gray1” Wool Fleece, Wear leathers
Southwestern Equine – OrthoRide Correction Saddle Pad$16031”x30” 31”x32”Contour squareGray1″ PoronXRD, Memory foam, Felt, Wear leathers
Tough-1 Wool Western Saddle Pad$7031”x31″Contour squareGray1” Wool, Wear leathers
Professionals Choice – Comfort Fit Tan Wool Pad$12031”x33”Contour squareTan1” Felted Wool, Wear leathers
Tough-1 Pachanga Contour Wool Saddle Pad$85 – $9536”x34”Contour squareBlue, red, purple, white (Diamond pattern)1” Felt bottom, Woven wool top, Wear leathers
Impact Gel Classic Contour Pad$28030”x30”Contour squareTan, gray, blackGel base layer, Wool blend, Wear leathers

9 Best Trail Riding Saddle Pads

1.  Diamond Wool – The Rancher

  • Cost =   $99
  • Sizes =   30”x30” or 32”x32”
  • Shape = Square
  • Colors =  19 colors, solids and patterns
  • Material = 1” Felted 100% wool, duck canvas, wear leathers

The Diamond Wool Pad Company has 59 styles of saddle pads and this is by far their best and most popular all around work and trail saddle pad.  These square style pads are made from one inch felted wool and are covered by a tough duck canvas and wear leathers.  Ride in style with 19 available color choices.

This rugged wool pad will do everything and more that’s required of a trail saddle pad.  It checks off every saddle pad requirement I mentioned above.  It’s the only saddle pad I use on my horses.

* I am not affiliated with Diamond Wool. Please checkout their site with the button below to see all their options!

2.  Diamond Wool – Contoured Rancher

  • Cost =   $120 – $143
  • Sizes =   30”x30” or 32”x32”
  • Shape = Contour square
  • Colors =  19 colors, solids and patterns
  • Material = 1” Felted 100% wool, duck canvas, wear leathers

The Diamond Wool Contoured Rancher is the exact same pad as the classic Rancher but with a 4 inch wither cutout and wear leather along the ridge as well as the sides.  If your horse has high withers, this is the pad for you.  If you purchase directly from the Diamond Wool Pad Company, you have 19 colors to choose from. Amazon and other retailers have fewer color selections.

Bonus pad:  If your horse has extremely high or deep withers, Diamond Wool has another contoured rancher with a 10 inch deep wither cutout.  Constructed from the same one inch felted wool and duck canvas, this pad sells for $151 and comes in 12 colors.  

3.  Diamond Wool – Round Barrel Rancher

  • Cost =   $99
  • Size =   30”x30”
  • Shape = Barrel contour
  • Colors =  17 colors, solids and patterns
  • Material = 1” Felted 100% wool, duck canvas, wear leathers

I can’t stress enough the quality, comfort and durability of Diamond Wool Pads.  Here is the same classic Rancher style, this time in the barrel contour shape.  If you are looking to cut weight and bulk but not functionality, then check out this pad.  It only comes in size 30”x30” so make sure your saddle is the correct shape and isn’t too long for this style of pad before purchasing.

4.  Classic Equine – BioFit Correction Felt Pad

  • Cost =   $180 – $230
  • Sizes =   30”x30”, 31”x32”
  • Shape =  Contour square
  • Color =  Dark gray/black
  • Material = 1” Wool fleece, wear leathers

Consider trying a BioFit Correction pad if your horse has high withers and narrow shoulders due to conformation, muscle loss, or old age.  The additional padding in the shoulder region lifts the saddle into a natural position and prevents slippage during downhill riding.  Your horse will be less sore after riding since the saddle won’t be wrapping down along their shoulders.  

5.  Southwestern Equine – OrthoRide Correction Saddle Pad

  • Cost =   $160
  • Sizes =   31”x30”, 31”x32”
  • Shape =  Contour square
  • Color =  Gray
  • Material = 1” PoronXRD, memory foam, felt, wear leathers

If you are looking for a slightly more budget friendly correction saddle pad, then check out the new OrthoRide Pad.  This type of pad again conforms to high withered horses with narrow or underdeveloped shoulders.  Memory foam relieves pressure points as the saddle is properly lifted away from the shoulders and the PoronXRD material efficiently absorbs shock during riding.  Orthopedic grade felt wicks moisture away from your horse’s back during sweaty rides.

6.  Tough-1 Wool Western Saddle Pad 

  • Cost =   $70
  • Sizes =   31”x31”
  • Shape =  Contour square
  • Color =  Gray
  • Material = 1” 100% wool, wear leathers

Looking to tryout a wool saddle pad before committing to a more expensive version?  Then look no further than the 100% wool western saddle pad by Tough-1.  At only $70, this 7/8” thick pad conforms to any horse comfortably.  The wool wicks sweat and heat away from your horse which is vital on a long trail ride.  Even though the top side of the pad isn’t covered with a durable cloth material, it will still hold up nicely to the abuse and weather seen out on the trail. Check it out at State Line Tack.

7.  Professionals Choice – Comfort Fit Tan Wool Pad

  • Cost =   $120
  • Sizes =   28”x30”
  • Shape =  Contour square
  • Color =  Tan
  • Material = 3/4” Felted wool, wear leathers

Professional Choice is another well-known brand and they have several styles of saddle pads in their lineup.  The Comfort Fit Wool Pad is another trail riding classic that can’t be ignored.  It’s simple, yet still contains the qualities you want in a trail riding saddle pad.  It doesn’t have a durable top fabric but that might not bother you.

This pad is available with a wool bottom or fleece bottom.  Again, I suggest you stick with wool for its superior moisture wicking and heat dissipation.

8.  Tough-1 Pachanga Contour Wool Saddle Pad

  • Cost =   $85 – $95
  • Sizes =   36”x34”
  • Shape =  Contour square
  • Color =  Blue, red, purple, white (diamond pattern)
  • Material = 1” Felt bottom, woven wool top, wear leathers

If you are looking for a little bit bigger saddle pad with more flare then check out Tough-1’s Pachanga pads.  This budget friendly option has a woven wool top side with a one inch felt bottom and wear leathers.  Pick your favorite diamond pattern color for a unique look out on the trail.  

9.  Impact Gel Contour Felt Saddle Pad

  • Cost =   $280
  • Sizes =   30”x32”
  • Shape =  Contour square
  • Color =  Gray, black
  • Material = 1″ thick, Impact gel base layer, wool blend, wear leathers

Interested in trying an impact gel saddle pad?  Several brands incorporate cushioning gel into their saddle pads and might be worth a try.  Gel technology excels at dissipating heat, weight and shock absorption over the entire area and not just at the point of origin.  The wool exterior allows for good moisture wicking and less slippage and the wear leathers add extra protection from rubbing cinches and stirrup fenders.

To sum it up

You might have the best fitting saddle in the world.  However, none of that matters if the saddle pad you place underneath it is subpar.  Protect your horse’s back with a good quality saddle pad so he can comfortably take you hundreds of miles down the trail.