Riding in the warmer months is sweaty enough. Add in the fact that your horse is actually a sweaty beast and you’ve got directions to the perspiration station (yum). Typically on hot days, I will skip a square pad and ride in just a half pad to take a layer off, but unfortunately, that isn’t an option when it comes to showing. You ride in a shaped hunter pad—or else—and unless you are the lucky owner of a plethora of show pads, this can be a problem when your horse sweats through it on day one and you still have a few days to go.
We all know that I am already an ECOGOLD advocate. After falling in love with my half pad so much, I did some looking into their CoolFit line of pads since Ax is such a Sweaty Betty but couldn’t justify the price for anything just yet. Luckily, my mom spotted an ECOGOLD CoolFit Hunter Pad at a tent sale (“Isn’t this that brand you like?”) and gave it to me as a gift before the first show of the year (thanks mom!).
The most important feature of the pad is the CoolFit fabric that lines the underside. ECOGOLD describes it as a “smart textile that can sense and react to environmental conditions or stimuli from mechanical, thermal, chemical, electric or magnetic sources” and states that the pad “senses the sweat of the horse and reacts by reducing its temperature.” They even have a fancy test video that shows the difference in temperature before and after the pad gets wet with hot water. You’re thinking this sounds like a bunch of horse poo, but I swear it is magic.
I find that the CoolFit pad doesn’t eliminate sweating (not that it claims to), but it absolutely reduces the temperature of his back under my saddle. The combination of wearing tack for an extended period of time and showing in the heat of the day usually leaves Ax swampy and soaked underneath whatever pad I use. While I haven’t taken a thermometer to the saddle area, he was much less hot and sweaty under my tack after showing on a particularly warm day in the CoolFit pad. He still needed a hosing off, but there was no swampy sweat running down from the saddle area (which occasionally happens on extra toasty days) and he was more slightly wet than soaked. Less heat equals less stress and sweat on the ponies and I imagine that that is more comfortable than standing around in their own sweat while waiting for classes.
An added bonus—the pad was only slightly damp after use and a few minutes of airing out upside-down left it completely dry. There was no need to bring an extra pad in case it got too wet and didn’t dry in time for our next classes (as most show pads often do).
For me, this was the main selling point of any of the ECOGOLD show pads. As someone who always schools with a half pad, suddenly riding without without one “because we are at a horse show” can really screw with your horse’s back. I used to struggle with Ax really using himself over his back at shows presumably because he was used to some extra padding during our rides, so I resorted to showing with a half pad and a show pad. While showing with a half pad under or over a hunter pad is an option, it is an unattractive one—and we are in a sport that relies on how things look—but I was more willing to protect my horse’s back than look pretty.
The top half of this pad is padded with half an inch of ECOGOLD’s high impact foam (similar to that in the Flip Half Pad) which eliminates the need for a half pad—I can protect my horse’s back and look put together at the same time. Plus, one less layer means less sweating.
Saddle and pad slippage was not an issue I had until recently, especially while jumping. There are few things more annoying them having to get on and off between courses to hike your saddle back into place, and I can’t imagine shifting tack can be good for any horse. Because of this, I use a thin non-slip pad directly on Ax’s back. I’ve shown with and without the non-slip pad under the ECOGOLD pad and haven’t noticed a difference—because my saddle stays in place even after multiple classes either way. How? I have no clue.
No surprise—I love this pad. No sweating + no half pad + no slip = happy ponies and happy riders.