Should You Use a Half Pad? (4 Reasons)


You’ve probably seen many riders use half pads to cushion their saddles. Half pads have become popular in recent years, and there’s a good reason why—half pads are versatile and can make riding more comfortable for your horse. If any of the following situations apply to you, then your horse could benefit from a half pad, too.

Your Saddle Doesn’t Fit Properly

It’s always important to have a saddle that fits your horse correctly—for safety, comfort and performance.

If you have a saddle that fits extremely poorly (either way too big or way too small), there’s not much a half pad can do; but if a saddle is only slightly too wide for your horse, then a half pad can remedy that. Adding a half pad underneath the saddle with some extra cushion will fill up the space between your horse’s back and the saddle, and lead to a more snug (and much more comfortable!) fit.

Similarly, because all horses have different backs with different conformations, you may find that your saddle doesn’t quite fit right. Maybe the saddle sits low either in the pommel or in the cantle when on your horse’s back. If that’s the case, a half pad can help correct this fault. Some are even specially designed to raise up either the pommel or the cantle of a saddle. Another option is to use a front or back riser pad to raise the part of the saddle that tends to sink.

Horze Harleigh Sheepskin Half Pad

Is Your Horse’s Body Changing?

If you have a young horse or an out-of-shape horse that you’re starting to exercise, his muscling and body shape will change dramatically over the next few months.

Your saddle might be too wide for him now, but it probably won’t stay that way for long. Using a half pad can help to make the saddle fit your horse better as he grows and gets into shape. This can save you from having to buy new saddles frequently as he grows out of his old ones.

Once your horse stops growing or gets back into shape, you may be able to ride him without the saddle pad.

You Have a Sensitive or Sore Horse

Your horse’s back supports you while you ride, and it’s not uncommon for horses to suffer from a sore back—at least from time to time. Others may just be more sensitive to having weight on them, and might need a little extra cushioning to keep them happy.

Whether your horse has had a previous injury or is sore from last week’s workout, or if you just want him to be as comfortable as possible, adding a half pad to your saddle setup can help. Half pads are made from a variety of materials from faux fur to sheepskin and cotton, and certain half pads are designed to cushion your horse’s back and minimize the impact that your weight has on him. Half pads help to distribute your weight across your horse’s back, eliminating sensitive pressure points and making your horse more comfortable.

You Want Better Contact with Your Horse

Have you ever ridden in a saddle that made it difficult to feel your horse’s sides?

Regular fitted saddle pads or all-around pads can make saddles bulky, causing you to have less contact between your legs and your horse’s sides. This in turn can make it more difficult to properly apply leg aids as you ride—or maybe it just makes riding less comfortable for you.

Using a half pad reduces the bulk while still cushioning your horse’s back, so you achieve a better feel of him and more contact while riding.


There are many reasons why a rider might choose to use a half pad alongside (or instead of) a saddle pad, ranging from fit to comfort to performance. In the end, you should choose what makes you and your horse more comfortable while you ride.

Interested in buying a half pad for your horse? Check out our selection here!

Do you use a half pad? Let us know in the comments!


I personally don’t, I’m an experienced rider and don’t slam on my horses back. My horse is also pretty fit and doesn’t change shape often
I have used a variety of half pads specifically for these reasons. As some of my horses have gotten older, they have needed a little lift and filling under the saddle. I really love the Mattis pad with the pockets and interchangeable padding.
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