Effect of a Half Pad on Pressure Distribution in Sitting Trot and Canter Beneath a Saddle Fitted to Industry Guidelines

Russell MacKechnie-Guire, Mark Fisher, Thilo Pfau

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Using a half pad beneath a saddle can be beneficial for improving saddle fit. However, there is a paucity of evidence on half pad use when used beneath a correctly fitted saddle. The aim was to quantify the effect that three different half pads have on pressure distribution beneath a saddle fitted following industry guidelines. Twelve nonlame horses were ridden by experienced riders in sitting trot and canter on each rein (three repeats). Saddle fit, with a high-withered cotton saddle cloth (control) compared with three half pads (viscoelastic gel, wool, and medical-grade, closed-cell foam), was evaluated by five qualified saddle fitters. A Pliance (Novel) pressure mat determined saddle pressures. Mean and peak pressures (kPa) beneath the saddle were compared using a general linear mixed model with horse as a random factor and half pad type and rein as fixed factors with a Bonferroni post hoc correction (P ≤.05). In sitting trot, in the cranial region, peak (P =.008) and mean pressures (P =.03) were highest when using the gel half pad compared with the control. In the caudal region in sitting trot, mean pressures were lowest when using the wool half pad (P =.0002). In canter, increased peak (P =.04) and mean (P =.02) pressures were found in the cranial region of the saddle with the gel half pad. In canter, with the foam half pad, reduced mean pressure (P =.002) in the caudal region was found. It is essential that the use and type of a half pad, to be used beneath a well-fitted saddle, is discussed with a qualified saddle fitter.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Foam
  • Gel
  • Horse
  • Pressures
  • Wool


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