Saddle Pad vs Blanket: What’s the difference?

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If you’re new to horseback riding, you may be wondering what kind of equipment you need. Do you need a saddle pad or a blanket? What’s the difference?

A saddle pad is a piece of equipment that goes between the saddle and the horse. It provides cushioning and protection for the horse’s back. Saddle pads are designed to protect your horse’s back from the pressure and friction of the saddle. A blanket is a piece of equipment that goes over the saddle. It provides warmth and protection for the horse’s back. 

So, which one do you need? It depends on what you’re using the horse for. If you’re going to be riding in cold weather, you’ll need a blanket. If you’re going to be riding in hot weather, you’ll need a saddle pad. 

Here’s a closer look at the key differences, benefits, pros, and cons between these two types of equine gear that you should be aware of before making a purchase.

Difference between a saddle pad and a blanket

Saddle pad

A saddle pad is one of the most important items in a horse’s tack. It is also used to absorb shock, distribute pressure more evenly, and keep the saddle in place.

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Saddle pads are usually made from a variety of materials, including wool, felt, foam, and neoprene. The size and shape of a saddle pad vary, depending on the type of saddle it is used with. 

Saddle pads come in a variety of colors, and some are even decorated with embroidery or other embellishments. They are typically secured to the saddle with velcro or straps. Some saddle pads are also equipped with a girth, which helps to keep the saddle pad in place and prevent it from slipping. 

In addition to providing protection and cushioning, a saddle pad can also help to keep a horse’s coat clean and free of sweat and dirt. A well-fitting saddle pad will also help to minimize chafing and rubbing.

Saddle blanket

A saddle blanket is a piece of thick cloth, often wool, that is placed on a horse’s back under the saddle. It serves several purposes. First, it provides a layer of protection between the horse’s back and the saddle, preventing the saddle from rubbing the horse’s skin raw.

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Second, it helps absorb sweat and dirt, keeping the horse’s back clean and dry. Third, it provides a bit of padding, making the ride more comfortable for both the horse and the rider. 

Saddle blankets come in a variety of colors, patterns, and materials. They are usually made to match the horse’s coat color but can be any color or pattern the rider desires.

They are typically made from wool, but can also be made from synthetic materials such as polyester or synthetic blended Acrylic Fiber.

Pros and cons of the saddle pads

Saddle pads and saddle blankets offer different levels of protection and comfort for your horse. 

Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding which is right for you: 

Saddle Pads: 

  • Can offer more protection from rubbing and chafing 
  • Can be made of a variety of materials to suit your horse’s needs 
  • Can be easily removed and washed 

Saddle Blankets: 

  • Are less likely to slip or move around 
  • Can offer more breathability 
  • Are less expensive

Cost of saddle pads for horses

  • Quilted saddle pad: Start from 32$
  • Correction saddle pad: Start from 169$
  • Jump shaped saddle pad: Start from 48$
  • Contoured saddle pad: Start from 74$
  • Wool saddle pad: Start from 78$ (Check our 5 best wool saddle pad reviews)
  • Orthoride saddle pad: Start from 169$
  • Half Pads: Start from 65$

Cost of saddle blankets for horses

  • Double weave saddle blanket:  Start from 14$
  • Wool Sierra Miniature Saddle Blanket: Start from 10$
  • Western Saddle Blanket Pad: Start from 69$

Which is better for horseback riding?

Horseback riding
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It depends on personal preference and the type of riding you will be doing. Some people prefer to use saddle pads as they offer more protection for the horse’s back and can help prevent chafing.

Saddle blankets are often used for show riding as they add a bit of extra polish to the horse’s appearance. Ultimately, it is up to the rider to decide which is best for their horse.

The best way to figure out what works for you and your horse is to experiment with different options.

Some tips on how to properly care for saddle pads and blankets

Horses are living, breathing creatures that require constant care and attention. Part of that care is making sure their tack and equipment are properly maintained. 

Proper care of saddle pads and blankets will help them last longer and perform their best.

Here are some tips on how to properly care for saddle pads and blankets: 

  • Clean saddle pads and blankets after each use. This will help remove sweat, dirt, and hair that can build up and cause the fabric to break down. 
  • Inspect saddle pads and blankets regularly for signs of wear and tear. Replace them if they are worn or damaged.
  • Store saddle pads and blankets in a cool, dry place when they are not in use. This will help prevent mildew and other damage caused by moisture. 
  • Air out saddle pads and blankets periodically to help prevent musty odors. 

By following these simple tips, you can help keep your saddle pads and blankets in good condition and looking their best.

Types of the saddle pad

  • Corrective Half Pads
  • Quilted 
  • Correction
  • Jump-Shaped Saddle Pad
  • Contoured Trail Saddle Pad
  • Wool Blend Saddle Pad
  • OrthoRide

Types of saddle blankets

  • Double Weave Saddle Blanket
  • Wool Sierra Miniature Saddle Blanket
  • Western Saddle Blanket Pad

Final thoughts

After reading this blog post, it is clear that there are pros and cons to using a saddle pad vs a blanket. It is up to the rider to decide which is best for them and their horse. If you are unsure, it is always best to consult with a professional.


How to clean a wool saddle pad?

If your wool saddle pad becomes dirty, you can clean it with mild soap and cool water. Avoid using hot water, as this can shrink the wool fibers.

Gently scrub the saddle pad with a soft brush to remove any dirt or debris, then rinse it thoroughly with cool water. Allow the saddle pad to air dry completely before using it again.

What saddle pad keeps a horse coolest?

There are a few different types of saddle pads that are designed to keep a horse cool. One type is made of a material that wicks away moisture, such as synthetic fabric or wool. These types of saddle pads can help to keep a horse cool by drawing sweat away from the horse’s body. 

Another type of saddle pad is made of a breathable material, such as mesh, which allows air to circulate through the horse’s body. These types of saddle pads can help to keep a horse cool by allowing heat and moisture to escape.

How long do saddle pads last?

Saddle pads typically last for several years with proper care. However, factors such as how often the pad is used, how it is stored, and the quality of the materials can affect its lifespan. A well-made saddle pad can last for decades, while a cheaply made one may only last a few years.

What type of saddle blanket is best?

There are many types of saddle blankets, and the best one for you depends on your needs. If you are looking for a blanket that will provide extra padding, a wool or fleece blanket is a good choice. 

Polyester or nylon are good materials to use for blankets that wick away moisture. If you are concerned about the environment, natural fiber like cotton or hemp is a good choice.

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