what are the best quality wool saddle pads out there? I'm buying a Western one for the first time, as a gift...don't know what's out there, or where to find( I ride English and haven't bought Western tack before)
Alot of it depends on the exact use. For a good all around pad I like the "Impact Gel" pads but for reining or working for a short period of time where slipping is an issue I like the "Won Pad" which has a neoprene underside. "Professional Choice" is good for an all around pad at a reasonable price.
I don't know that I would buy a saddle pad for someone else as a gift.
Not without asking them what they like first.
That is as personal as buying underwear.
Each one of us has very strong ideas about what we like and why when it comes to both.
I ride my horse with a 5-Star 7/8" saddle pad when trail riding. In a normal weekend we will ride 6-8 hours per day doing a fair amount of hill riding and he's never been sore since I got this saddle pad. Had a lot of people who are in the saddle every day for a living recommend it, so that was what I wanted.
I bought a green 3/4" 5-Star for my husband and his grey horse's back turned green. Soaked it in vinegar per another person's recommendation and it helped, but he prefers to ride in the impact gel saddle pad I got "them" for his birthday. His new saddle pad is pretty nice too.
I have bought the cheaper saddle pads and they did ok, but had to be replaced more frequently.
How do you keep your pads clean? Most of them can't exactly go into the washing machine. I use inexpensive saddle blankets folded in half with a foam pad between the saddle and the blanket. I have Mayatex wool pads for showing, but use a felt liner underneath them. Can't figure out how to wash the felt liner, though.
Hang the pad over the fence, pour horse shampoo into a pail and fill with water. Hose pad off, the use a medium bristle horse brush dipped into the shampoo and scrub the pad. Rinse the shampoo off thoroughly with the hose and let the pad air dry on the fence.Voila !!