Product Review: Half Pads, Part 1 May 12 2014, 2 Comments

It’s been a crazy few weeks (when isn’t it crazy?) and despite some amazing weather, and old neck/back injury has sidelined me from riding for a (hopefully) short while. I did manage to sneak in a great poker ride on a beautiful day before my neck got worse and me and my trail horse Ridge were even featured in the paper. Check out this great picture of us with Ridge sporting his Two Horse Tack bridle and breastplate that I blogged about a few weeks ago. Love it!

Since then, I’ve been doing a bunch of hiking and expanding the uses of some of my favorite equestrian equipment into other aspects of my life. So far the GoVelope has transitioned to my yoga pack and hiking buddy to carry my cell phone and chapstick (can’t live without my Burts Bees), and now I’m reviewing half pads to see what I can do to help me get back in the saddle sooner while providing maximum shock absorption for when my horses do something silly or stupid like, oh, let’s say bucking or fake-spooking. You know how horses love to do that - just to keep things interesting!

So here goes: my take on my favorite half pads - Thinline, Mattes, and Fleeceworks, along with info on what I use on each horse and why. I’m going to review the ThinLine pads first (original and Ultra) and will follow up with more posts this week on the other products I’ll be reviewing.

Starting with the Thinline, I originally purchased this last year because I realized that I was riding crooked (there’s those old chiropractic issues again) and when my knee was sore, I’d drop my one hip bone and make my horse sore. The original Thinline is made to protect the horse’s back from shock and distribute pressure to “quiet the seat,” and while I like to think I have a pretty decent seat, when I’m crooked in my hips or back, no doubt that will affect how my horse moves. There’s a nice writeup on the Thinline site about the difference between ThinLine vs. Ultra ThinLine if you’d like to read more.

The Ultra ThinLine is a thinner pad than the original, and not quite as shock absorbing, but actually endorsed by several spinal surgeons, which I found really interesting, and my friend and student that rides in one on her large warmblood swears by her Ultra. Because of my back issues, I may be testing out her Ultra in the near future, but for now I have to say I went from using this saddle pad on my one horse who has a bit of a cold back, to something I will be using on all of my horses so that it can also provide some shock absorption for me.

Both variations of the ThinLine don’t impact saddle fit, are flexible, durable (they say 7-10 years is the average life span) and even breathable so it won’t cause overheating issues like neoprene or gel can. I like that I can use it with any horse and it won’t change the saddle fit best, because as long as I’m having chiropractic issues myself, I certainly don’t want to be creating them for me or my client’s horses. I love that ThinLine offers weight and pressure distribution in a thin pad that I can use on just about everyone.

Do you have experience with ThinLine and/or Ultra ThinLine pads? We’d love to hear your take on which one you prefer and why! Up next, reviews of the Mattes and Fleeceworks half pads. Have any other products you want us to review or want to write a review for us? Drop us a line at