Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
I’ll admit it … I would consider myself to be a fairly particular person. I tend to like things to be just so, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I can be choosy about the clothes that I pick out on any given day, because I feel like my style is a part of my identity, and it’s a chance for me to convey my mood without uttering a single word.
While I’m concerned about the appearance and style of my clothes, I also like them to fit comfortably. Clothes and footwear that fit well tend to make me feel good about stepping out of the door. And it might just put a little swagger in my step. But in all seriousness, an ill-fitting shirt or pair of jeans just tend to throw me off of my game. And don’t even get me started on uncomfortable shoes. That’s a whole other monkey wrench in my day.
Slightly melodramatic? Maybe. Maybe not. I have yet to meet a person who loved wearing shoes just because they did not fit properly and hurt their feet. I think horses are of a similar mind set on some level. When I ask my horses to work, I want to make sure that their tack is properly fitted so that it does not cause them any discomfort or pain.
I’ve definitely had experiences in the past with saddles not fitting a horse “just so” and have seen the problems that can result. A few years back, Mark started his training under saddle. After being ridden four to give days a week under my saddle that did not fit “just so,” I ended up with a gigantic horse with a sore back that needed frequent chiropractor visits. And while the chiropractic treatments seemed to help, I was still left with a grouchy horse, who had gotten a rather sour attitude towards work. Considering the discomfort that he was in, who could blame him?
I place a high level of importance on making sure that my tack fits properly. While it is not feasible to own a different saddle for every horse, I’ve learned to use padding and shims to help get the fit that my horse’s need. Recently, I’ve been using the E.A. Mattes Gold Collection Correction Pad from World Equestrian Brands to help customize my saddle’s fit for my horses.
The Gold Collection was a more recent innovative line introduced by Mattes. Gold Collection Pads have the same design and high quality materials that can be found in the Platinum Collection Pads, but with one main difference. Instead of full sheepskin panels, the Gold Collection features dense, soft wool panels on the underside of the pad; the wool is 1 1/4″ thick and is woven to a fabric backing, rather than remaining attached to a hide back (so the sheep providing the wool should be happy!).
The front and rear trim of the Gold Collection Pads are still crafted of sheepskin. Why is this so important, you ask? Because the Gold Collection Pads are trimmed with sheepskin, which can still be dyed — whereas the high-loft wool cannot be. That means riders have the ability to order a Gold Collection Pad in all of the colors that are available in the Mattes Couture Collection. The front and rear trim would arrive in the rider’s selected color, though the high-loft wool panels would remain their natural color.
When I pulled the Gold Collection Correction Half Pad out of the box it arrived in, I paused to appreciate the handy storage bag that it came in. Once I removed the pad from the storage bag to take a look, the initial impression that I got of the pad was that I could just feel the quality of the craftsmanship. The quilting of the pad felt nice, and the sheepskin of the front and back trim was nothing short of luxurious to the touch.
The Gold Collection Pad also features Spine-Free, an anatomically correct topline that is designed to allow for optimal clearance along the length of the spine. And the spine of the pad also has a lovely design that displays the Mattes and World Equestrian Brand logos on it. The Correction Half Pad is shimmable — and it includes four pockets (two front and two rear) to insert shims in order to optimize saddle fit.
Included with the Gold Collection Correction Half Pad are the Mattes Poly-Flex Shims. When I pulled the Poly-Flex Shims out to take a look, I was struck by how thin and flexible they seemed to be. Each insert is only 5mm thick — which are the thinnest shims that I’ve personally seen. And riders have the ability to stack up to 5 shims in order to get just the right fit. The super thin profile of the Poly-Flex Shims have allowed me to really fine tune and customize the fit of my saddle.
Inserting the shims went pretty easily for me. I simply unfastened the Velcro holding each pocket shut and pulled up the Velcro flaps inside so that I could easily slide the Poly-Flex shims in. Once the shims were in place in the pocket of the pad, I simply allowed the inner Velcro flaps return to laying flat, and then I fastened the pocket shut again.
Once I have the Gold Collection Correction Pad in place on my horse, and I place the saddle on it, I usually tend to pause to appreciate how attractive the pad looks. I find that it is great to be able to add or remove the Poly-Flex Shims as needed since I have three horses — each with a slightly different build then the others. Switching shims in or out does not take much time at all. And again, once the pad in in place, it does look quite elegant (especially when the rear trim option is included).
The Correction Half Pad does its job extremely well for me. I find that the combination of the Poly-Flex Shims and the pad itself helps me to be able to attain the fit that I am looking for with my saddle. And I also like that it is easy to add or remove shims as needed in order to use the pad to help with saddle fit for my multiple horses. Plus, the pad also provides a nice amount of extra cushion while I’m working my horses.
After using the half pad, I do not notice that there is much heat trapped underneath it when I remove it after my ride. And I’ve been using a size L pad, which is sized to work with 18″ saddles. My all-purpose saddle is a 17.5″, and my dressage saddle is an 18″. The size L half pad that I’ve been using looks as though it fits properly and is attractive when used with either of my saddles.
And since the Gold Collection Pads still contain some sheepskin, the recommendation is that they still should be washed using MELP cleaner. Pads may be machine washed (using MELP) and then set out to air dry. Make sure to remove the Poly-Flex shims prior to washing!
The Mattes Gold Collection Correction Half Pad with Rear Trim is available for a retail price of $255 from World Equestrian Brands.
Go Half Pads that Fit (Just-So). Go World Equestrian Brands. Go Eventing.