October 16, 2020 7 min read 0 Comments

It’s no secret that gel pads are becoming all the rage in the horse riding industry these days and we can’t say we’re surprised—adding extra lining to conform with your animal’s spine to prevent shock and impact? We love it already!

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there are plenty of good reasons to invest in one. The biggest push, however, is that a high-quality gel pad ensures your horse’s comfort and health. This type of tack is specifically designed for A+ horse performance which results in better rides for you.

Does that sound good? If you answered yes, get ready to explore and learn more about this latest riding must-have!

In this article, we will talk about:

Common Myths About Gel Pads
The Pros and Cons of Gel Pads
The Differences Between Riding With and Without a Gel Pad
Why You Should Invest In A Gel Pad
How Gel Pads Upgrade the Riding Experience
How To Choose A Good Quality Gel Pad
Basic Maintenance For Gel Pads

In this article, we will talk about:

  • Common Myths About Gel Pads
  • The Pros and Cons of Gel Pads
  • The Differences Between Riding With and Without a Gel Pad
  • Why You Should Invest In A Gel Pad
  • How Gel Pads Upgrade the Riding Experience
  • How To Choose A Good Quality Gel Pad
  • Basic Maintenance For Gel Pads

What Are The Most Common Myths About Gel Pads?

Before anything else, let’s answer the question of what a gel pad really does: it is a form of lining placed under the saddle to deflect shock, resist twisting forces, and helps distribute weight on the back of your horse properly.

Unfortunately, a lot of riders look over its benefits and often think gel pads “do nothing” for better rides. Some of the concerns we often hear include:

  • It doesn’t have enough breathability.
  • It traps more heat than standard foam.
  • It weighs more than most memory foam pads.
  • It’s hard and expensive to maintain over time.

These are all FALSE! If you encounter any of these problems, you probably haven’t found the right gel pad for you yet. Once you discover the right fit and material, you’ll find that your rides will change drastically.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Gel Pads?

Just like all types of riding tack, there are pros and cons to using gel pads. The good thing when it comes to these is that it’s guaranteed that there will be more advantages from using one. Check our our handy guide below:

PROS

  • Great for cold weather/winter (offers extra heat)
  • Protects the horse’s spine from irreversible damage
  • Absorbs rider’s weight properly
  • Comfortable for longer rides on uneven trails
  • Provides support for performing intensive jumping tricks
  • Horses get into a better emotional state for races as they aren’t in constant pain
CONS

When paired with an ill-fitting saddle, gel pads may result to:

  • Excessive heat during warmer weather/summer (may affect horse’s endurance)
  • Discomfort for horses or cause muscle pain
PROS CONS
  • Great for cold weather/winter (offers extra heat)
  • Protects the horse’s spine from irreversible damage
  • Absorbs rider’s weight properly
  • Comfortable for longer rides on uneven trails
  • Provides support for performing intensive jumping tricks
  • Horses get into a better emotional state for races as they aren’t in constant pain

When paired with an ill-fitting saddle, gel pads may result to:

  • Excessive heat during warmer weather/summer (may affect horse’s endurance)
  • Discomfort for horses or cause muscle pain

Enjoy rides like never before with even weight distribution and minimal impact.

What Is The Difference Between Riding With and Without A Gel Pad?

Gel pads are designed to absorb the impact of any activity. The differences of riding with one instead of without the extra lining isn’t very noticeable from the get-go, but it pays off in the long run.

It works by efficiently distributing the rider’s weight more evenly across your horse’s back which keeps them in better health for longer. It also helps with maintaining their posture, temperature, and emotional state for riding as they are kept comfortable. Last but not the least, it’s great for preventing rashes and hair loss because the additional padding minimizes rubbing.

Why Should I Invest In A Gel Pad For Riding?

Every horse is built differently, but no matter their structure, it’s vital that they have proper back support—especially if you take them out a couple of times per week or when various people ride them.

You might be thinking, “My horse is young and strong. I don’t need the extra padding,” but this is where you’re mistaken. Like us, horses’ bodies change over time—gel pads allow for ergonomic fit by taking the shape of your horse so it gives them allowance to adjust to their constantly evolving form.

You don’t always have to experience pain to get the gains. Investing in gel pads, no matter which type or material you go with, saves you from countless veterinarian and hospital bills in the long run.

How Does A Gel Pad Upgrade Your Horse Riding Experience?

Gel pads aren’t just for the well-being of your animal, they can be beneficial for you, too! Some perks you may experience with using a gel pad include:

  • Hassle-free mounting because of its anti-slip grip. It keeps you steady in your seat when crossing uneven trails or performing tricks.
  • Bridges the contours for a good saddle fit. If your pad and saddle fits properly, you and your horse will be able to enjoy more comfortable rides.
  • Protects your skin from riding sores. Your horse isn’t the only one who can get rub burns from sweating a lota gel pad will help you prevent from getting painful rashes, too.
  • Better riding air circulation. Since gel is more breathable than foam, there’s better ventilation with this pad design.

Horse Mane and Tail Care

There are so many pads out in the market, but how do you know which one to choose? To help you, here are some of the basic things you need to note when shopping for a gel pad:

Find what fits your horse's contours and back best.

Try your best to find one that matches the contours of the horse's back and the underside of the saddle. This is vital to having a riding seat that won't apply pressure to the horse's spine or withers when you’re out and about.

To get started, check your horse’s spine and compare if it fits any of these descriptions:

  • Sway Backs — the horse usually carries its head up with a concave spine; may also show stiff gait with an skewed bend
  • Hollow Back — commonly caused by excessive training and ill saddle fit; may hold their head down with a martingale
  • Broad-backed — not necessarily a defect because they are born with a wide back; may need a wider saddle or extra padding
  • Dipped Back — you may find an extreme dip between the horse's withers and hips; may be caused with irregular tissue production
  • High-Withered — their body shape tapers into a broad, athletic back with a well-sprung rib cage; best to avoid narrow saddles for this breed

Look for the right style.

The general rule to follow is that the type of riding you do will determine the style of your gel pad. For example, riders who perform dressage will typically use square pads, while the shaped pads are most popular among hunters and jumpers. At the end of the day, you should simply decide what’s best for you and your horse.

Be particular about the size.

Be sure to match the type of gel pad with your saddle as they are typically made with different style saddles in mind. Be it dressage pads, all-purpose pads, or children's pads, try to ensure the pad extends slightly beyond the saddle edge, but not beyond the horse's last rib.

Choose the most comfortable material.

Saddle pads come in a variety of material choices. To name a few, fleece and cotton are two of the most popular choices because of their wicking capabilities and they are also less expensive. Sheepskin or wool pads are a little more expensive and require specialized care, but they are able to absorb up to three times its weight in water.

Front Riser Anti-Slip Gel Pad - Kavallerie

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Middle Riser Anti-Slip Gel Pad - Kavallerie

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Rear Riser Anti-Slip Gel Pad - Kavallerie

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How Do I Properly Maintain Gel Pads?

Similar to every purchase you make, you want to get bang for your buck when investing in long-term tack. Here are some of the things you can do to keep your gel pads for a long time:

Alleviate the pad pressure on your horse.

Once it's set on your horse, be sure to pull up the front of the pad. Do this in a manner that moves it up into the channel (gullet) of your saddle. A flat-lying pad will rub against your horse and can also interfere with the horse's movement by putting pressure on the spine.

Always keep pads clean.

  • Dirty pads can rub together and cause saddle sores on your horse. Hang your pad upside down to allow it to air dry after rides and washing.
  • Never set your pad down on materials that can cause it to pick up extra dirt or debris that might be transferred to your horse’s back.
  • Use a dandy brush to clean your pad between washings. It also helps when you groom your horse regularly, too.

Check the fit of the pad often.

Similar to the way the human body changes with age and wear, a horse's body will also change. The saddle pad you're using now might be ideal for your horse at present, but that may change in a few years. Check the saddle pad and how it's working for your horse's body to ensure the best possible comfort and protection.

To sum up, unhappy and irritated horses are no fun! Go ahead, make the investment—at the end of the day, upgraded rides for you and your horse are always worth it.



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