Back when Ashke ripped the second hole in his left hind leg, wrenched his neck out of whack and sank the rest of our show season, I decided that the only way to protect his leg was via a BOT quick wrap. While I was at the tack store, I also picked up a new BOT dressage pad, since the BOT AP pad I have been using for over three years is beginning to show significant wear, especially at the edges where the billets hang. I noted in the back of my mind that the new pad seemed thicker than the old pad and wondered if that was just a sign of wear.
I started using the dressage pad in September and we did several long rides, plus our weekly lessons in it (I have a tendency to pick one thing and use it til it falls apart). I noticed toward the end of October that Ashke had spots on his back. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to be friction rubbing of the hair. (If he was body clipped I never would have seen it.) He isn't tender or sore there, but the hair is much shorter than the hair around it. I immediately had the saddle fitter check my saddle (which we had done when we started back into work in September - utilizing a piece of foam padding to help even out the left side). The saddle still fits fine. Something else was causing the rub.
I considered any changes in the past two months: I was cinching the girth with the middle and back billet instead of the front and back billet, so immediately went back to girthing him the way I had been prior. I didn't see an improvement, mostly because once the hair is short, that's all you can see. I finally recognized that I was using a new dressage pad and that it was thicker and stiffer than the old one (which really is like a rag). I went back to the AP pad, plus tried a Roma (cheap thing) dressage pad with fleece on the bottom to see if those helped. I wasn't seeing the hair rub getting worse, but Amanda was seeing the saddle pad bunch up in the back during our lesson.
I asked Megan (saddle fitter extraordinaire) what she thought and she recommended that I stop using the BOT pad (which I had already decided to do) but didn't really have any other ideas. I went back to using the old BOT pad, but it really is beginning to fall apart and won't be a good option long term. I saw Megan a couple of days later and she told me that another saddle fitter she knew had seen the same issue with hair rubbing in the same area with the new BOT pads. On a variety of different horses with differing saddles. (Megan decided not to use the BOT pad she had just purchased). I started looking for something that might work.
Then we had our barn party, hosted by our wonderful barn owners, and I got to joke and laugh with horse people for a couple of hours. I had been pondering the idea of looking at sheepskin pad that is shaped like the saddle (something bigger than a half pad so I don't have to layer under it), since Ashke does very well with fleece and sheepskin. I already got myself a fleece cover in black for the TSF saddle girth, and was thinking maybe a sheepskin pad would be a viable option. I had looked at them at the Dover store on Friday (Dec 30th) and holy crap those things are pricey. J and I had driven down there to get a new helmet (the strap system on mine pulled out of the side of the helmet and it needed to be replaced) and I just couldn't bring myself to spend the money. I already bought two pairs of Kerritts tights and now a new helmet. Enough with the Christmas joy for me.
Then I asked Megan at the party whether she thought a sheepskin would work. J was frantically shaking her head in denial. Megan laughed and told J to talk to her husband, because she was totally an enabler and she would never deny a horse person the opportunity to spend money on horse stuff. I laughed.
Joking aside, I need to find something that works better than what I am currently using. I like the idea of a pad that just covers the saddle area without extraneous material to bunch up or trap heat. Last night J and I stopped by our local saddle shop and looked at pads. Then we left and went to get the saddle, since it is an Alta Escuela and doesn't really match the footprint of either a jumping saddle or a dressage saddle. Once we had returned, we found a pad that both myself and the woman working in the shop believe will work.
In an extra large size. Long enough and deep enough to cover the sweat flaps and the back of the saddle without risking a pinch spot with the rolled edges. It is in white (why? Seriously? White never stays white) but looks really nice with the saddle.
I have to give J kudos for not gasping outloud at the $200 price tag. Of course, I was sneaky and picked the $320 model first, to help defray the sticker shock. I will try it tonight for the first time. Keep your fingers crossed for me.