The horse with shark fin withers is often the hardest to fit with saddles and pads alike. While any horse of any breed can have high withers, it is most common in Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds and some Warmbloods. While it is important to find the best fitting saddle for these horses, it’s also vital to have the best saddle pad for high withered horses because the pad affects saddle fit as well.
What You Need to Know About High Withered Horses
The first thing to know is that high withers can actually be a good thing. High withers typically means that once you have the right saddle and right pad, your horse may have an increased ability to lengthen its stride. So, while you may lament on the difficulty of fitting a high-withered horse, he may be able to run faster or jump higher because of his conformation.
The most important aspect of saddle fit is that your saddle cannot rest on the withers. The saddle should clear the withers by an inch, or 2 to 3 fingers width. If the saddle is higher than that, it is too narrow. If it is lower than or even touching the withers, the tree is too wide. Proper saddle fit also takes into consideration the back and shoulders of the horse. High-withered horses may have narrow shoulders and a wide back. In this case, you may want to try one of the best saddles designed for gaited horses. These saddles are made with a narrow front and wide back.
The best western saddle pad for high withered horses is typically a cut-back western pad. These pads have openings, either an entire slit, or a hole, in the pad designed to provide wither relief. This allows the withers to come through without putting an extra padding.
For horses with very high withers, you may also need to pad the backup higher to evenly distribute the weight of the saddle and rider. Pads that are designed for swayback horses or pads that allow you to build up portions of them with shims may be the answer.
Our Favorite Saddle Pads for High Withered Horses
Size: 31 x 32
30 x 32 31 x 32
PW: 2.9 pounds
PW: 2 pounds
Top 6 Saddle Pad for High Withered Horses
For English riders, you can also find similarly designed English pads. The best English pad for a high-withered horse also provides wither relief. English pads will often have an extra amount of material built into the wither area that will allow the pad to lift up off the withers of the horse. You may also need an additional riser pad for the cantle of the saddle to help distribute weight evenly and to ensure that the saddle isn’t at an awkward angle.
#1) Southwestern Equine OrthoRide Correction Saddle Pad
The Southwestern Equine OrthoRide Correction Saddle Pad is designed to relieve several issues riders have with saddle fit. It is made of orthopedic-grade felt with Poron XRD and memory foam. The built-up area of the pad is designed to relieve shoulder strain and pressure.
This pad is designed for all types of conformation from high withers to narrow shoulders. It is great for young horses or horses with unusual conformation. If your saddle is too large or tilts forward, this pad will help you.
- Contoured design made of two-tone, orthopedic-grade felt
- Includes Poron XRD and memory foam build up
- Fills saddle gaps and prevents pressure points
- Wicks away moisture and sweat
#2) Classic Equine BioFit Correction Shim Pad
Classic Equine is a brand well-known for quality products. The Classic Equine BioFit Correction Shim Pad is designed to be adjusted to the needs of your horse.
This pad alleviates “downhill” saddle fit due to conformation issues and high withers. It includes a cut-out area for high-withered horses.
It features a closed-cell foam shim that is wedge-shaped, allowing you to adjust the pad to the saddle. If you need more correction, slide the pad back. If you need less, slide it forward.
- Contoured to fit the horse’s shape
- BioFit Shim Pad
- Corrects downhill saddle fit
- Available in two sizes
#3) Diamond Wool Contour Relief Pad w/Shim Pockets
For the ultimate in correction and saddle fit, the Diamond Wool Contour Relief Pad withi Shim Pockets allows you to custom fit your saddle and pad to your high-withered horse’s needs.
This pad is one of the best western saddle pads for high withered horses. The pad features a contoured spin and three pockets on each side.
With these pockets, you can use the wool shims as needed to fill in areas where your horse needs support. Features the cutout area for wither relief as well.
- Available in six color options
- Includes multiple shims and pockets for shim placement
- Shims are ½ inch thick and made of wool
- Features durable duck cotton top
#4) Kavallerie All-Purpose Saddle Pad with Quilted Anti-Slip Padding
For the English rider that needs wither clearance and likes a little style, the Kavallerie All Purpose Pad is the way to go. This all-purpose pad fits your jump saddle to your dressage saddle.
It is available with or without the fur accents. This pad is designed for the comfort of both the horse and rider adding stability without adding density.
The pad’s materials help prevent back injuries such as rubs and bruising. It does not slip or chaff.
- Made of breathable bamboo charcoal lining
- Plenty of wither clearance for high-withered horses
- Prevents friction, rubs and chafing on long riding days
#5) ECP Cotton Correction All Purpose Contoured Saddle Pad
Also for the English rider or eventer, the ECP Cotton Correction All Purpose Contoured Saddle pad features memory foam pockets allowing you to precisely fit your pad and saddle to the needs of your horse.
This is one of the best English saddle pads for high-withered horses as you can adjust easily and the memory foam pads absorb shocks.
This pad is ideal for young horses that also change shape as they age.
- Four memory foam pockets that Velcro shut
- Allows for adjustments in both the pommel and cantle areas.
- Available in 10 color options
#6) Exselle Half Pad with Wither Relief
If you need a little extra protection for your high-withered horse, the Exselle Half Pad with Wither Relief is another great option at an affordable price.
This half pad is designed to work with your standard all-purpose saddle pads and provide additional relief on top of it.
This pad is made of a cotton twill with felt and sponge in between — a simple solution for added wither protection.
- Available in black or white and at two lengths
- Features tight fleece bottom with rolled wither and cantle edges
- Helps fill the gap in high-withered and slightly swaybacked horses
Things to Consider Before You Buy a Saddle Pad for a High Withered Horse
When purchasing a saddle pad specifically for a high-withered horse, you will want to consider you a few things before making a purchase.
Does the pad include shims?
Shims that are removable allow you to adjust and fit the pad to the horse in a precise manner. This gives you a truly custom fit. There are some pads that are simply built up in the wither area and may not actually allow you to change out the built in part.
Are the shims wool or memory foam?
If you’re shopping for a Western saddle pad, wool shims are going to be your best option. They provide the most bulk and won’t squish under the weight of a western saddle. Memory foam works for most English saddles because they are lightweight. However, the weight of the rider may also need to be considered.
Will a half pad work?
With English saddles, a half pad is often a viable option. You can pair it with an all-purpose pad that provides plenty of wither clearance as well. However, be smart in shopping for a half pad as some are simply thin material that provide “the look” of a half pad without actually providing any wither support.
Frequent Asked Questions about Saddle Pads for High Withered Horses
- Do I need a thick saddle pad?
Overall thickness of the pad is not necessarily what you’re looking for in a saddle pad. When it comes to horse with high withers, it’s more about protection in the area of the withers and along the back.
- Can you buy extra shims for adjustable pads?
The majority of the adjustable pads do have shims that can be purchased separately. These pads are often a small investment, so being able to replace the shims means you won’t have to replace the saddle pad when shims wear down.
- Will the pad work on multiple horses?
The saddle pads with removable shims will allow you to use the pad on multiple horses. If you have a horse that doesn’t need the additional support, simply take the shims out. Replace the shims on the horse that needs the extra padding.
When it comes to finding the best saddle pad for high withered horses, it really comes down to the individual need of that horse. Be sure to understand that a horse with high withers in healthy weight and condition may need a pad fitted differently than a high-withered senior horse who has trouble keeping topline. Younger horses will grow and change and may grow into a regular saddle pad, while older horses will likely always need the additional padding to keep them comfortable.
It’s also important to remember the weight of your saddle and the rider when shopping for a saddle pad. Comfort is always the number one priority, so take your time to shop and try out different pads to find the best one for you and your horse.
Last Updated on by silktie1