Is your horse a good candidate for an equine therapy saddle pad?
As technology continues to progress (as it is wont to do), our choices for our horses expand as well. This is especially true when it comes to therapeutic tack. Research on materials that can increase blood and oxygen flow and promote healing has yielded some impressive – and sometimes overwhelming – results for us and our horses.
Among the therapeutic products on the market are saddle pads. Companies advertise myriad benefits of the pads, but how do you determine if a horse is a good candidate for these products?
The short answer is that therapeutic saddle pads can benefit most horses if used according to manufacturer directions and with correctly fitting tack. For pads that are recognized by the FDA as medical devices or general wellness products, their benefits include
- Increased energy
- Increased blood flow
- Better endurance
- Decreased recovery time
- Improved performance
- Enhanced speed
- Improved stamina
- Increased comfort
Knowing that, it seems that nearly any riding horse would be a good candidate for a therapeutic saddle pad. This especially is true for any horse that is under a heavy workload and/or is engaged in a demanding career. Endurance horses, three-day eventers, jumpers, and barrel racers come to mind most immediately, but you know your horse best. If you are asking a lot of him, remember that you need to make his comfort and recovery your primary concern.
Other horses who are well suited for therapeutic saddle pads are those that suffer from mild back soreness following riding. They may experience some relief from products that can help target blood flow to affected areas. We recommend the Draper Equine Therapy All Purpose Saddle Pad, with its patented Celliant® technology, for general use in English disciplines. Jumper pads and dressage pads are also available (Horse Nation readers are eligible for a $20 off any style saddle pad through July 7th — use discount code customerlove20 at checkout).
Since most horses can benefit from such products, the more important question to ask may be which horses aren’t good candidates for therapeutic saddle pads? Saddle pads – or any tack, for that matter – will not fix problems related to ill-fitting saddles. Although some pads can make up for minor saddle issues, no pad – therapeutic or otherwise – will fix a saddle that does not fit your horse. Similarly, if your horse is in acute or chronic pain due to an injury, illness, or bio-mechanical issue that has not been addressed, no product can offer a quick fix. Although some may offer relief, having your horse evaluated and treated by a qualified professional is paramount. (If you’re not sure if your horse is in pain, here is an article that discusses common pain symptoms in horses.)
As an aside, having used my fair share of therapeutic products, I tend to notice increased water intake when I use these products. This likely is due to the increased blood flow (muscle recovery is hard work and makes horses thirsty!), so make sure your horse has plenty of water available (as if you wouldn’t).