Schleese Saddlery Service

Custom English Dressage & Jumping Saddles



Saddle Pads and Dust Patterns

Saddle Pad Dust Pattern

Synopsis:
Use of the Dust Pattern to determine pressure points and saddle fit.


Based on the photo this saddle fits well. The most dirt accumulates where the most movement is: at the front shoulder (moves up and back) and in the back, (horse’s back swings). No dirt should show where the saddle doesn’t come in contact with the horse’s back, such as the gullet or at the transition between sweat flap and panel.

The white triangle under the front part of the saddle also indicates a good position and fit, because in this area the saddle should sit the most quietly without movement. This is where most of the rider’s weight sits. (Like the collar on a white dress shirt which gets the most dirty because there is constant "movement" and air and dust accumulating here, whereas on top of the shoulder inside of the shirt it remains clean).

In nature, the horse carries the most weight on the forehand, which increases even more with a rider on top. This white triangle in the saddle pad indicates that effort has been made to free up the front and the back of the saddle so the horse can bring up its back, engaging the hindquarters. For the horse to be able to shift the weight from the forehand to the back hand is by the ability to bring up his back. Only then can he “pivot” his pelvis and step under with the hindquarters. By doing so, the horse is able to shift the weight from the forehand to the hindquarters, which allows the shoulders to come up, which allows freer movement. Most of the movement on the saddle pad should show at the shoulder (front) and at the back, not under the triangle.

The preference is to get horse and rider as close as possible to each other using the saddle as the interface to allow maximum communication and aids without impeding performance capability and creating long term damage. The saddle pad should be used only for what it was intended to do - to protect the leather from the horse's sweat (on an English saddle). In some parts of Europe people don't even use saddle pads. The comfort for the animal is in the properly fitted saddle panel, not in the pad.