Correct Length and Thickness of a Saddle Pad for Your Horse

Correct Length and Thickness of a Saddle Pad for Your Horse

Correct Length and Thickness of a Saddle Pad for Your Horse

Article written by the AQHA: American Quarter Horse Association
August 2023
How do you determine the correct saddle pad for your horse? Learn the importance of choosing a saddle pad with the correct length and thickness for your horse to make riding more enjoyable.

Saddle Pad Thickness

Saddle pad thickness is important to consider because it determines how much space there is between the horse and the saddle. Some believe that a thicker saddle pad would be the most comfortable, but that’s not always the case. It all boils down to how a saddle fits the horse and what the riding experience is. For example, the best saddle pad for trail riding most likely won’t provide the same amount of comfort for shows and competition. The same goes for different disciplines. Of course a western discipline will use a different saddle pad thickness than an English discipline would because the saddles fit differently and have different uses. The makers of Impact Gel pads suggest that a ¾-inch pad is the most universal and will work for most riders. When riding for an extended period of time or applying an added amount of pressure, like roping for example, a thicker pad 1-inch pad might be more beneficial. Some people will have saddles custom made for their horse, creating a perfect fit for riding. In those instances, a thinner ½-inch saddle pad would be acceptable. 


Every Impact Gel saddle pad includes gel technology bladders. The semi-solid Impact Gel has incredible shock absorption properties because of how energy is transferred and dissipated through the molecular structure of the gel. 

Saddle Pad Length

If a saddle pad is too short, it can be extremely uncomfortable for a horse. It can cause the saddle to rub and place pressure on areas that are not necessary. Impact Gel guidelines call for the length of a saddle pad from front to back to measure 3 to 4 inches longer than the length of a saddle. There should be at least 1- to 1 ½-inch clearance in both front and back of the saddle. When deciding on saddle pad length, consider which discipline will be practiced. Of course, different disciplines require different tack, which in turn mean saddle pads with various lengths. For example, a saddle pad used for an English saddle will be shorter in length than a saddle pad for a western saddle. 

Other Considerations

Some horses have interesting builds and need specialized tack. For example, horses with pronounced withers or weak toplines will need a thicker saddle pad with extra support. These areas can become sensitive if harsh pressure is applied from ill-fitting equipment. On the opposite end, if a horse has a mutton wither, it would be best to find a thinner saddle pad to prevent the saddle from slipping or rolling. Every horse is unique, and no body type is the same.

About Impact Gel

Impact Gel is designed to be different. This world-class product is pushing the envelope of saddle pads. The patented gel in the saddle pads minimizes shock, weight, heat, and inconsistencies of saddle fit — for the most comfortable ride of your life.