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Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Accessories > Bareback Pad

Bareback Pad

A bareback pad (also called a bareback saddle or a bareback saddle pad) is a compromise between riding bareback and riding with a saddle. It provides a surface that gives the rider a bit more grip and weight distribution than riding strictly bareback. A bareback pad, however, provides very little support or stability.

A bareback pad consists of a contoured pad made from fleece, nylon, wool, or rough out leather. The top-side will have a texture from the material itself or from the construction that will help to keep the rider's rump up on the horse. Not all pads are created equal. Some are simply a piece of fleece between you and your horse, while others are made of heavy rough out leather with a medical felt liner.

bareback pad
Rider's Choice
Bareback pads are secured with a strap or cinch. The better pads will have a traditional western rigging with a D ring, latigo, and cinch. The lesser quality pads will simply have a narrow nylon strap that hooks around the horse. A bareback pad should have a strong hand-hold strap located where the horn on a western saddle usually sits.

Some bareback pads come with stirrups. While this may seem like a good idea, they are actually quite dangerous and should be removed. With a pad's lack of structure and tendency to slide from side-to-side, having your feet hung up in stirrups is the last thing you want.

parelli bareback pad
Parelli
Riding bareback or with a bareback pad, is a bit controversial. It is often described as a good way to develop greater balance and feel for your horse. While this is true, you first have to have competency as a rider or it will be unsafe for you and uncomfortable for your horse. Bareback riding is definitely not for the novice rider. Before you ride with just a pad you should be able to ride in a saddle without stirrups at the walk, trot, and canter. At that point, bareback riding will be safe for you and you'll be able to gain the benefits of riding in such close contact with your horse.
You'll find a selection of bareback pads available in the Tack Shop.

 

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