View Full Version : Gel Pads - good or bad?

04-11-07, 07:19 AM
i have used a gel pad with m TB mare for some time but have now been told by a few peoplethat "gel pads do more harm than good" and that they make pressure points even worse!

i dont see how this is possible as when put a gelpad over, say, my leg and poke a finger into it i can't feel the finger poking, just an even pressure rather than a jabbing pressure.

can anyone explain? and what, if anything, would you recommend instead of a gelpad to protect a horse's back from injury (apart from a well fitting saddle of course!)

04-11-07, 07:49 AM
Savannah - I think that comment was directed at the fact that there are different types of gel pads - some tend to mould into one position and the gel stays put and could create p/points, others are more elastic, and have a more free-moving substance.

04-11-07, 07:52 AM
It depends on the gel pad. Some of the older ones weren't so great, the gel would push out from where the pressure was, and then cause pressure in another spot. I have one of the new wintec pads, I only needed it until my boy filled out, then had to have the saddle refitted again.
I guess using a gel pad to disguise a bad fitting saddle is a problem, and may be why they have a bad rep.
I use 2 saddle cloths as I can feel too much pressure through one, other people I know use a saddle cloth and a numnah, or a saddle cloth and a folded towel. If your mare is happy, your saddle fits well and not causing problems, then I see no problem with your gelpad.

04-11-07, 08:00 AM
They get lumpy when they are old. When they no longer feel smooth throw them out and get a new one.
I have used them for years and had no problems.

04-11-07, 09:33 AM
I always used to use them on all my horses. more recently Ive looked into them a bit more and have decided to stop using them. I never had a problem when using them though. I have heard that they can get very hot (never noticed personally) but I sat down and thought about it and figured how they must feel to the horse. I think that is can make the saddle seem 'loose' (thats the best word I can think to describe it). If you put one on the ground and stand on it (again depending on what sort, some are thicker than others) you'll feel the movement in the gel, I dont know that that would be comfortable on a horses back. Completely personal choice though, as I said, my horses never reacted badly, but I just use a normal foam pad now.


04-11-07, 10:14 AM
I agree with the bad fitting saddle comment. I have seen many people use a gel pad with a poorly fitting saddle. It is like the new version of the 3-4 saddle cloths under the badly fitting saddle.

Same problem, it just bulks up and creates MORE pressure, like wearing three pairs of socks to make an uncomfortable pair of shoes 'fit' better.

When your saddle fits properly (with the gel pad) and your gel pad is not old or sunbaked they are a very good interface between the horse and the saddle.

Home of 'Romerito' SO473 Pure Spanish Stallion

04-11-07, 01:07 PM
proper gel pads as opposed to risers or sheepskin risers?


the gel is constantly wobbling, causing the horse's various back muscles to constantly tense and un-tense to try to balance the movement of the gel pad.

bad bad bad.

05-11-07, 05:12 AM
I used to use the old fashioned gel pad until one day I was on a saddle fitting clinic. It was said that there was too much movement in them so I put it on top of my saddle and had a ride on top of it like a seat saver and the movement in it was huge. I have never used it again

05-11-07, 06:47 AM

Have a look at www.brucehorse.com.au. at their Premier range of saddle cloths. They are expensive but are fantastic and proven. There are cheaper imitations around, but they are not the same fabric or any where near the quality of the saddle cloths from Bruce Equestrian Supplies.

05-11-07, 06:59 AM
I don't like to use any type of extra padding under my saddle, apart from a saddle cloth because I personally feel that it limits the contact I have with the horse, and therefore the horse isn't as responsive to seat aids. Its just what i've found.

Anywhere in the horseworld you will find what one person loves, another person hates. Just take all the comments on board, trial and error with gear and use common sense. The horse will usually let you know if something is wrong if you listen to him :)

05-11-07, 07:30 AM
Open cell gel pads do allow a sliding feeling. The ones I am referring to are closed cell, a gel rubber compound that does not move on itself.

Apologie for any confusion.

Home of 'Romerito' SO473 Pure Spanish Stallion

05-11-07, 02:28 PM
I've never had much to do with gel pads, but I'm a fan of the sheepskin pads at the moment.

06-11-07, 02:06 AM
Just my p.o.v and experience.

Gel pads are awesome. I always use one (1cm thick, Black roma with a non-padded cetre bind to prevent spine pressure) will both my saddles. They have never caused my or my horse any trouble and I still use one on my $3,500 jumping saddle even though it fits beautifully because it is awesome at reducing shock and pressure with jumping.

On my dressage saddle I use a gel pad to give lift and a sheepskin half-pad on top because it reduces pressure but does not give any lift.

Gel pads are much much better than foam pads, x-cept memory-foam which is still raring, because foam pads don't absorb pressure properly and just made my poor Bobby's pressure points worse. Just switching to a gel pad cured them, the two baseball sized white marks are completely gone and his way of going has improved dramatically in just a month.

06-11-07, 07:33 AM
I have stopped using gel pads, mainly because the horses sweat under them like hell. Plus they are quite heavy.
I have started to use pads made by 'Equitex', they are ##### expensive, but really really good and last almost forever. They are made of some sort of special latex which stays in form, is light weight and horses don't sweat that much under them.
Can only recommend them!
Otherwise, I am a fan of lambskin saddle cloths as well.
But, first of all, none of the pads whatsoever will be able to replace/ correct a poorly fitting saddle!