Nothing drives me more crazy than to look down and see my baby pad crushing my horse’s withers and completely bunched up behind my leg—the dreaded pad slippage. Some say it has to do with how you’re using your leg, some think it is because your saddle doesn’t fit, and some think it is just the pad, but does anyone really know? (Can we get Mythbusters on this one?)
What I love about baby pads, and the main reason I use them, is their thickness—or lack there of—that pairs perfectly with a half pad. I find most normal pads feel too bulky underneath everything. Plus, they are a bit cheaper which is never a bad thing.
Baby pads, why do you conflict me so?
Because of my ongoing struggle for the perfect baby pad, I’ve tried my fair share and found some that I love, some that I hate, and some that are just EH.
Ogilvy Baby Pad
Everyone has heard about these since Ogilvy blew up a few years ago. I have three of these and am pretty in love thanks to the wither clearance—this pad can clear the most mountainous of withers. They look beautiful, wash nicely, and last forever, but I call bull on Ogilvy’s “so stable that it doesn’t even need any straps to stay in place” claim. Ever since I got these they have slid back behind the leg. Once I sewed on my own girth loops they stay in place like they should, but, at $40 a pop, I really want a pad that is going to stay put.
Pro: amazing wither clearance
Con: slippery and pricey
Lettia Coolmax Baby Pad
I picked this up not expecting too much as I’m not normally a fan of the quality of Union Hill products. This pad pleasantly surprised me. It is wonderfully thin and very cooling which, if you have a sweaty horse like I do, one can very much appreciate. The pad’s contour doesn’t hold a candle to the Ogilvy, but it isn’t straight across either. If you really pull it up into the gullet of your saddle then it stays put pretty well. The best part? It comes with girth loops, so there is no slipping.
Pro: super cooling and has girth loops
Con: “eh” wither clearance
Baker Baby Pad
If only this was the Coolmax pad with Baker piping on it, but, alas, it is not. To me, this pad looks pretty but functions badly. Though it does have girth loops, the fabric is slippery causing, you guessed it, slippage. And unfortunately the spine has no contour, so it also bunches up underneath the saddle unless your horse’s back is like a ruler.
Con: no wither clearance and slippery
SmartPak Baby Pad
This was given to me by a friend and I am glad that I didn’t pay for it (and I am normally a fan of SmartPak brand products). This has become the pad that sits at the bottom of my tack trunk to keep the rest of my pads clean. It rings in at the cheapest, but you are getting what you pay for—it isn’t cut to the contour of a horse’s back and it slips back to Narnia. Note: This is a relatively old baby pad. It sounds like SmartPak may have changed it a bit by the description on the website, but who knows.
Con: everything else
Thermo Manager Baby Pad
I was pleasantly surprised by this freebie baby pad. It came as a package deal with my mom’s blankets from Equine Affaire and I snagged one. I haven’t ridden in this in the summer heat, but on warmer fall days it has left Ax without a sweat mark in sight. While this is cut straight across the spine, the fabric is super stretchy to contour to the horse’s back. There is no wither clearance but there is no pressure on the withers thanks to the fabric’s stretch. My one problem is that, because it is so stretchy, it slips back a lot and I’m not sure sewing on girth loops would help. *sigh*
Pro: stretchy and wicking
Maybe one day I will find the unicorn baby pad.