Sunday, June 2, 2013

SaddleSkin Saddle Pad

Most of us have some predisposition to one type of saddle pad or another. Mine has always been to use felt, wool or fleece (sheepskin) pads. I never like the neoprene type pads as I thought they were a lot less comfortable to the horse. I have used the Impact Gel type pads which have close gel type impact reduction pads placed in strategic locations within the felt pad to add in the dispersion of the impact that the horse feels through his back with heavy loads and/or long rides.
In the Spring of 2012 I was exposed to a company that made a liner type pad designed to be worn between a law enforcement officer's body armor and the shirt. This material was designed to reduce the blunt force trauma caused by a bullet hitting but not penetrating the vest. The additional benefit was the surface cooling effect on the body. This product was called the CORTAC Trauma Attenuation and Cooling vest or panel.

The company started design on a saddle pad to take this technology and apply the trauma attenuation and cooling aspect to a horse's back. Even though I was pretty committed to felt or fleece pads, I thought a saddle pad of this type would be attractive to numerous riding groups such as rodeo speed events and endurance riders, and committed to ride and help with development and testing.

Throughout the late Summer and early fall, I rode a prototype on long desert rides, working in the arena and even sorting cows. While I had reservations on this pad because of the non-natural material, it's thickness (or actually lack of thickness), it never galled or sored my horses. I did not have a thermal measurement device so I could not measure the surface cooling effects on a horse's back, but from previous experience with the body armor version I knew that this worked pretty darn good.  The picture at top is the protoype Saddle pad which I used with a thin wool blanket.

I also figured out that the lack of pad thickness compared to many of today's pads actually gave a little more closer contact to the horse.  An additional benefit was this pad diminished the saddle's tendancy to slide as the horse got heated up.  Some rider's may not like the fact that you have to use an air hand pump to fill this pad.  But it just takes a minute or so and I have gone over a week of riding without having to put more air in.

The company finished testing and evaluation of the prototype, and has now produced a final version for the market and SaddleSkin was born.  SaddleSkinTM advertises that it delivers a custom-fit saddle experience and your horse will stay comfortably dry and cool under saddle with Advanced Impact ResistanceTM (AIR) Technology with the moisturewicking science of EverDry™. SaddleSkin’s design facilitates convective air flow between horse and saddle while its nanocrystal surface structure keeps your horse comfortably dry.

Most of us recognize that a poor fitting saddle can't be made to fit using pads and that there can be a general tendancy for riders to over pad.  When a saddle is over padded, it can make the saddle easier to slip and can place the rider out of balance.  It's hard to over pad using the SaddleSkin because of it's lack of thickness.  I know is my horses backs' are much less sweaty when I use my SaddleSkin pad.  Currently I alternate use of an Impact Gel pad and the Saddleskin pad.

SaddleSkin also states that "Outside air naturally flows between horse and saddle allowing body heat to escape as it is no longer trapped between horse and saddle. The metabolic heat generated by the horses is conducted into the inflated air chambers where it then naturally vents from underneath the saddle. The Nanocrystal Surface has super-hydrophilic properties preventing sweat from soaking the coat and the moisture barrier prevents sweat absorption into the saddle."

Visit the SaddleSkin website to see thermographic images demonstrating the SaddleSkin's ability to make an 8 to 15 degree cooler difference for the horse's back. 

1 comment:

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