Today's modern horses are lucky. People think a lot about making them comfortable. They due this for many reasons: kindness, a desire to improve performance, and a desire to make their own ride more comfortable. To that end there are many gimmicks and products out there designed to do all sorts of amazing things to horses and riders alike. This doesn't even begin to touch all the supplements and injections and chiropractic treatments, in which horses lucky enough to afford this things can indulge.
Now I adore my horse. Any of the kids will tell you she is the most spoiled creature in the barn. And I won't deny it. She is my guinea pig, and my play thing, and my stress relief when I am annoyed. And she puts up with it all admirably. She isn't fancy, she isn't terribly talented, she doesn't excel at any one thing, she isn't beginner safe. But she is remarkably tolerant of whatever I throw at her. She is however, very delicate. She has a typical thoroughbred cold back, hooves the vet says are the size of Q-tips, wears pads on her feet because the ground is ouchy (hates slippery spots especially) and ties up in the winter.
So I am a sucker for a good gimmick. Anything that will make Princess Maggie feel better while I am trying out my sidesaddle or teaching her to bow or side pass across the ring. I am however a sucker with limited money, so I have to be choosey. I try to research things as best I can and find good deals whenever possible. (I adore ebay!)
Today's gimmick was of the half pad variety. There was a saddle fitter from Arc de Triumphe out at the farm today, and they fit one of the younger horses (wide barreled quarter horse) with a wide tree saddle. This was done in the assumption that he would grow into it, as he is more of a medium wide fit right now, but will bulk up and muscle out on summer grass and more consistent work as the weather improves. (Also it was a good deal on a saddle they had in hand I believe.) In order to make the wide tree work better until the he grew into it, they had tried it with an Ogilvy Memory Foam Half Pad.
I have a 4 inch thick memory foam mattress topper on my bed that I quite enjoy, so I thought this was a wonderful idea. I felt the pad with my fingers, nice and squishy comfy. I thought this would be great for poor cold backed mare who could probably use a chiropractor visit or seven at least as much as I could. At $199 it was a bit pricey, but not much more than all the sheepskin and other gimmick pads out there. I was already three quarters sold. Luckily for me they let me try the pad on with my saddle and even encouraged me to get on and ride around in it for a few minutes before I decided.
Because horses can't talk I don't know what Maggie thought. This is probably for the best however, because if she said it made her feel more comfortable I might have gotten it. As it was I did not find it at all comfortable. It made my saddle feel wider, and pushed me forward towards my pommel and caused 2 pressure points on the back of my thighs. I was incredibly disappointed. It is likely that this is a wonderful pad, with the right saddle and the right horse configuration, but it just didn't work for me. So for now I will stick with my sheepskin half pads and keep looking for good deals on other ones to try. Like I said, I am always willing to give a good gimmick a shot.