1 - If the saddle fits properly to the horse then there is no need for a saddle pad whether it be a gel pad, half numnah, foam pad, etc
2 - In some cases a pad is required if the horse has a really high wither or the customer is using a real close contact jump saddle
3 - Clearance over the wither is a crucial issue, if in doubt raise the saddle a little bit more. Clearance is also reliant on the type of panel that the saddle has.
For example a conventional panel will give you more clearance than a French panel as they are made from different density materials. The conventional panel is deeper and thicker and has nice soft padding in it to contour to the horse’s body shape. The French panel is thinner and allows more close contact but is made from a high density foam panel that is harder on the horses back.
4 - With heavier riders it is usually better to have some extra protection on the horses back than not. I like the sheepskin half numnahs with the foam pads in called the Balance pads as they give the horse and rider more flexibility and comfort.
5 - Remember the horses comfort is the number one priority.
They are a management tool that can be used on a wide range of horses and ponies. You can adjust the padding to get the balance of the saddle correct so that the rider is balanced and centered. A saddle with the lowest part of the seat too far forward or back throws the rider off balance and this will distribute the weight incorrectly on the horse or pony's back.
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