Did you know that you can protect your horse’s back with the same technology that’s used in protective gear for NFL players? It’s possible thanks to Poron XRD, a breathable, shock-absorbing material that offers extreme impact protection, so much so that it’s used in countless big-name athletic and footwear brands.
Toklat has brought this revolutionary material to the horse world by using Poron XRD in the T3 inserts for its Matrix line of saddle pads. Poron XRD can absorb 90 percent of the shock on your horse’s back during rides. Think that sounds too good to be true? Watch this short demo video to see how the T3 inserts absorb shock.
I’ve watched a similar demonstration before in past years at Rolex and the USEA Convention with a bowling ball being dropped on the inserts, so when Toklat asked EN to review a Matrix Competition Pad with T3 Inserts, I was definitely intrigued and started researching more about how Poron XRD works.
I’ve since been using the pad and inserts almost exclusively through the spring and summer and have been very pleased with their performance. Mia’s back feels great and has been getting two thumbs up from my body worker, Darlene Latshaw, during her monthly massage appointments. I’m definitely a Matrix believer.
One of the best things about the Matrix line is how customizable it is for you and your horse. A Velcro opening along the spine of the pads allows you to easily switch inserts in and out. With three different insert types and three different lining options to choose from, you’re essentially buying a pad that can be adjusted to meet a variety of different needs.
Here’s a look at the three different types of inserts and three different types of lining options available for the Matrix Competition Pads:
The Extreme Pro-Impact insert is made from a thick 13 millimeter layer of Poron XRD that gives maximum musculoskeletal protection for the horse while minimizing the shock felt by the rider. That gives back relief to both horse and rider and gives you a more secure seat in the saddle. (Click here for a photo of the insert)
The Ortho Impact insert combines a 5 millimeter layer of Poron XRD with a 12 millimeter layer of medium density viscoelastic foam, which provides superior musculoskeletal cushioning. This insert is a great option to compensate for saddle fit issues and uneven muscle development. (Click here for a photo of the insert)
The Pro-Impact insert is a thinner 5 millimeter layer of Poron XRD that still provides the same musculoskeletal protection and shock absorption in a more compact insert, which is ideal if you want protection for your horse’s back with less bulk. (Click here for a photo of this insert)
The sheepskin that Toklat uses in its pads is 100% Australian sheepskin eco-tanned in New Zealand to meet strict environmental standards; it carries the AWI Woolmark. Sheepskin has long been a popular choice for saddle pads and must be washed carefully according to the instructions on the label.
WoolBack is a manufactured fleece made in the USA from 100% natural virgin wool. It absorbs and wicks up to 30 percent of its own weight in moisture and is highly breathable. It offers excellent density and is made into a 1-inch pile for this pad. It has the look of sheepskin but is much easier to care for and is machine washable and dryer safe.
CoolBack is 100% polyester orthopedic fleece that offers superior breathability due to its woven backing. Because it’s a manufactured product (made in the USA!) it has fewer variations in density than what you might find in natural materials like sheepskin. CoolBack is machine washable and dryer safe and can also be bleached.
The Matrix Competition Pad is also available in three different styles: dressage, cross country and jumping. Is your mind spinning yet with the smorgasbord of choices? You can click here and here for more photos and descriptions of all the different linings and inserts on the Toklat website.
I’ve tried all three inserts and all three linings and am currently using the Pro-Impact insert with the Matrix Competition Pad in WoolBack and cut in the cross country style. As much as I love soft and fluffy sheepskin, the WoolBack gives the same look and is much easier to care for. I love that I can throw the pad in the washer and dryer and it comes out looking brand new every time.
As a side note, I also have a CoolBack half pad from Toklat and like that material too; it’s also very easy to care for and still looks great after using it regularly for about two years now. The main difference in the look is that WoolBack’s color more closely resembles real sheepskin, while CoolBack is a brighter white color.
In addition to the variety of choices available in the linings and inserts for Matrix Competition Pads, I also like the features and attention to detail on the top of the pad. The top is made of a fabric called ETC, which is breathable and non-slip to keep your saddle in place, but is also anti-friction to avoid heat buildup. The fabric also resists dirt really well, and I can get away with fewer washings than I typically can with other white pads.
I also love how the pad fits with my monoflap saddle. It’s cut roomier than what you’d typically see in a monoflap saddle pad, which means there’s no risk of any pad binding finding its way under the saddle to create painful pressure points for your horse. I’ve both competed in the pad and cross country schooled in it, and the pad stays in place really well.
If you’re looking for a pad that’s manufactured to the highest standards and can be totally customized for your horse, consider the Matrix Competition Pad. The pricing on the pads ranges from $139.95 to $365.95 depending on which inserts and linings you choose when ordering. Click here to view the full line of Matrix Competition Pads with T3 Inserts on Toklat’s website, and here’s a list of individual links:
Love the look of the Matrix Competition Pad but wishing you could customize it in your cross country colors? Spoiler alert: You’ll be able to next month! Stay tuned for more on the all new T3 Colored Pads right here on EN. Go Toklat. Go Matrix. Go Shopping.