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’m a big fan of wearing comfortable and functional attire when I set out for the barn. Whether I’m planning to just get my barn chores done, or take a ride for the day, I just find that I have a better time of things when I don’t feel like my movement in constricted in any way.
The watch words of the day – or maybe the catch phrase of the day would be more appropriate — is freedom of movement, folks. I’m guessing that most riders can relate when I say that there is very little that is worse than riding or barn clothes that limit your range of motion. Or ones that are just downright uncomfortable and are too loose or too tight are certain places.
It can be quite distracting when you are trying to ride and you just feel like your boots are pinching. Or if you shirt sleeves start to bunch up. Or even if your breeches are “riding up”. Poorly fitting or constricting attire can interfere up to the point where it takes my focus off of my ride because I can’t seem to stop paying attention to these kind of little annoyances. Which in the end can really affect performance in the saddle, and take the enjoyment out of a ride
The same concept holds true for barn work. This time of the year, my focus is really on staying warm. When the temperatures reach a level that make me wonder if I’ve relocated to Antarctica, I am more than willing to give up some mobility in order to stay warm. But the loss of mobility and freedom of movement caused by layers upon layers of clothing does hinder me when I’m mucking, watering and tossing hay.
I feel like it’s only fair to keep the emphasis on freedom of movement for my horses as well. While none of my horses have developed the ability to talk yet, if any of their tack is ill fitting, they have other ways of complaining (namely being grumpy, or throwing in a buck – which Ripley certain does if he is unhappy about something).
But to me, it makes good sense to me to make sure that tack is well fitting and in good working order to make sure that they can focus on doing their job to the best of their ability. If I’m paying attention, I can pick out little behaviors that might indicate discomfort – though some days naughty behavior is just plain naughty behavior. The moral of the story in my mind is that I try to make sure that tack fits.
Something that interested me quite a bit when I first saw it was the Total Saddle Fit Six Point Saddle Pad with the optional Wither Freedom Technology included. My first thought was that I had never before seen a pad that looked so interesting to me! And then I wanted to learn all about the reasons and potential benefits of using such a differently styled half pad.
I never really stopped to think about the pressure that a pad might put across the withers, as well as the trapezius muscles of my horse. But looking at the Six Point Saddle Pad with Wither Freedom Technology sure got me thinking about the concept – on a typical day when I’m tacking up for a ride, I toss a pad over my horse’s back, and then generally add a half pad to help add some extra support between the saddle and the back.
The traditional version of the TSF Six Point Sheepskin Half Pad has some great features (and you can check out our recent review of the Six Point Sheepskin Half Pad here). The pad is anatomically correct, so that it helps to distribute saddle weight to the shape of your horse’s back.
And, the Six Point Saddle Pad also offers even more customization options by offering six pockets to insert shims as appropriate to work for the shape of your horse’s back. A set of shims is included with each pad, and the pockets are easy to open to add shims, and then simply Velcro shut again. The pad can also help address saddle fit problems, such as rocking, bouncing, bridging, lateral shifting, twisting, of being low in the front or back of the saddle.
Building on the functionality of the Six Point Sheepskin Half Pad, the Wither Freedom Technology helps by offering your horse freedom around his or her withers. The pad gets it’s unique appearance from the V-shape that cuts back at the withers, so that there is no fabric or padding laying right across the area. The V-shape is also edged with the same soft and lovely feeling sheepskin as the rest of the pad.
When I place the half pad on my horse’s back, I am left with the impression that the tension has been relieved – which it is, because the Wither Freedom Technology helps to remove pressure from the withers, and trapezius muscles. But the benefits actually continue, as it also allows for maximum pommel clearance.
The Six Point Saddle Pad also attaches to the D-rings on my saddle, rather than the billet straps, as traditional pads do – and it is guaranteed to stay in place!
I find that the Sheepskin of the Six Point Saddle Pad is lovely and plush to the touch. The shims are easy to use, and are thin enough to allow for slight adjustments to the fit of your saddle, to get that “just right” fit. It was also really easy to attach the pad to the D rings of my saddle — I just slipped the straps through and then velcroed them in place. It was something a little different from other pads that I use, but I quickly got used to it and found that I like how simple it is to anchor the pad to the D rings.
The Wither Freedom Technology also functions nicely underneath my saddle – when I put my hand under the front of the pad after it was in place under my saddle, I felt no pressure or tension across the wither area. And that’s what it’s all about, folks. I can also attest to the fact that the Six Point Half Pad stays in place just so; when I go to untack after my ride, it is still just where I put it to start out with.
The Six Point Sheepskin Half Pad with Wither Freedom Technology is available from Total Saddle Fit, and it has a retail price of $189.95. Total Saddle Fit also offers a 110% Money Back Promise – if you are not satisfied with the Six Point Saddle Pad for ANY reason, send it back within 30 days for a 110% refund. And you can find it here!
Go Freeing Up Those Withers. Go Total Saddle Fit. Go Eventing.