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Questions Answered about Total Comfort System Saddle Pads

How can I determine if my horse’s saddle fits properly?

Put your saddle on with no padding underneath, and do not cinch up. Try to run your hand in between your horse and the saddle from the front of the saddle all the way along the muscular structure under the bars of the saddle. Your hand should be in a palm up position with the back of your hand against your horse and your palm feeling along the bottom of your saddle. In this way your palm will feel what your horse feels. Notice if your hand slides in easily and whether there are any discrepancies in the feel. Does the saddle fit tightly in some areas and looser in others? Is it tighter on one side than the other? Notice how it feels. Can you feel the bottom of screws, rivets or conches? Is it uniform and consistent or rough and uneven? Your job is to determine what the underside of the saddle feels like on your horse’s back and then be better informed to select the appropriate Cavallo Total Comfort System Saddle Pad to correct the discrepancies and irregularities.

Can Cavallo pads be used with a treeless saddle?

All TCS pads are excellent with treeless saddles becuase they create structure and ensure that weight is minimized on the skeletal structure. Most riders can take an inadvertent bounce from time to time and with a treeless saddle this can be a little uncomfortable for both horse and rider. Horses are most comfortable when weight is evenly distributed on the muscular structure on either side of the spine. TCS pads provide the "bars" or panels that the treeless saddle lack, but in a much softer and more flexible form.

My horse is sensitive to neoprene. Will your Cavallo TCS Pads and Cinch Belts bother him?

There is a special vulcanization process that takes place in the production of Neoprene which requires the use of certain chemicals. We believe this process is the cause of some skin sensitivity. Our Nitrex does not contain the sulfur which may be the culprit. Also the production process is quite different. Nitrex is widely used as protectors and placed directly on various body parts. Our factory has been producing helmets for many years and have not received any complaints regarding skin sensitivity.

My horse has started to get a patch of white hair appearing on his wither area and his loins, what does this mean? Is there a Total Comfort System Pad that can help with this problem?

While white patches on the withers are more common than on the loins, they both represent a disparity in saddle fit; usually it is because the saddle is too tight in these areas. When you get both problems occurring together, it usually represents a “bridging saddle”, meaning that the saddle is too tight at both the withers and the loins. It may be that your horse has been dropping or lowering his back away from the saddle in order to get away from the discomfort at one end or the other, thus creating a gap in the mid section. The saddle will then only makes contact on the front and back. It may also mean that your horse is getting older or out of shape and has lost muscle tone. The reasons may vary, but the fact remains: saddles should have even load distribution all along the length of contact. The Cavallo Bridge Pad #3001 is thin at the withers and the loins, while gradually thickening towards the middle. This distributes weight more evenly along the muscular structure, while still providing a gullet which allows the spine to lift again in rehabilitation. This will provide relief while you decide whether to continue with your current saddle.

What is the difference between a gel pad and Cavallo Total Comfort System Pad?

We have seen many problems created by the well-meaning horse owner who uses gel pads. The spine at rest has a curvature called the thoracolumbar bow. Synchronization of the muscles around it allow the spine to straighten with propulsion. Consider the function of the saddle gullet, meant to allow your horse freedom of movement at his optimum performance level. His muscles engage, becoming taut and lifting his skeletal carriage (the thoracolumbar bow) to straighten into the gullet of the saddle.

Gel is a heavy dense substance which responds to weight and pressure. The weight of the saddle bars and the rider coupled with the oblique and vertical forces of movement cause the gel to disperse and progress downward. This is counter-productive to the horse’s natural process of movement. Gel becomes ‘dead’ weight on the skeletal and muscular structure, inhibiting your horse’s impulsion and numbing the natural function of his finely-tuned apparatus. Cavallo Total Comfort System Saddle pads are a unique combination of technically-advanced materials that do not resist movement but rather respond and allow room for your horse to function in accordance with his structure.

I have a high withered narrow Thoroughbred Jumper, and I seem to be progressively falling further behind her movements. Do I need a WEDGE pad for her?

It sounds as though the saddle is not level, but rather is sloping down into the mid-section of your horse’s back. She could be dropping her back to avoid discomfort, or the saddle could be propped up and too tight at the wither. To determine the problem, put your saddle on with no padding underneath and do not cinch up. Try to run your hand in between your horse and the saddle from the front. Your hand should be in a palm up position with the back of your hand against your horse; your palm feeling along the bottom of your saddle. If your hand slides in easily, then you have enough room at the wither and the Cavallo Total Comfort System Wedge Pad with all its benefits and features would be a very good solution to your balance problem. Whilst all Cavallo pads create more room at the wither, they cannot make your saddle wider. If your hand really has difficultly sliding in, your saddle is too tight at the wither and you should consider a new saddle.

My saddle is a bit tight for my horse. I know your pads are thin and lightweight; will they correct this?

Saddles are restrictive and very often “a bit tight”. When your horse is in motion, the whole structure of the leg moves and the back of the shoulder blade pushes into the bars of the saddle. We have identified this area, just down from the withers, as the most common place of discomfort through saddle usage. In the past when this area was acknowledged as sore, more padding was put under the saddle to cushion the area. Putting thicker padding under a too-tight saddle is like putting extra socks on and trying to squeeze into a pair of too-small shoes … ouch!

Do you have empirical evidence that supports the descriptions of how your pads perform? Have you actually measured the pressures exerted on a horse's back by a mounted person when your pads are used or are not used?

Cavallo Total Comfort Saddle Pads are made through a lamination process of three different types of materials: New Zealand merino wool, open cell memory foam, and patented closed cell nitrex foam. In addition to alleviating saddle fit discrepancies, Cavallo’s goal is to reduce concussion and absorb the shock transmitted from horse to rider and from rider through to horse. Cavallo’s materials, both individually and as laminated together have been tested at Satra, an internationally recognized testing authority based in the United Kingdom, which determines the impact based on pounds per square inch. Satra has vigorously tested our three individual materials to conclude a high level of durability and shock absorption. Cavallo has tested the completed saddle pad to assess heat sources through various external temperatures and assorted riding conditions. Our infrared thermometer gauges have detected no additional increase in temperature as compared to pure wool pads, and in some cases where the wool pad was extremely thick, even less increase in temperature. When compared to an assortment of purely or combined synthetic construction pads, Cavallo pads have tested less temperature increase as a result of the aeration throughout. In addition, through a variety of tests it is determined that use of Cavallo Total Comfort System Saddle Pads more evenly distributes saddle pressure when used with a saddle.

We have done some comparison testing with regular felt pads, wool pads, and Cavallo Total Comfort System Saddle Pads to determine the ability a pad has to absorb shock, reduce concussion-related injuries and soreness, and re-distribute the weight of the rider off the horse’s spine and onto the muscular structure of the horse. Our pads are lightweight, have gullets, and memory foam; it is primarily these components that assist in contracting where there is more pressure and remaining full where there is less. Our gullet allows the rider’s weight to be balanced on the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles rather than on the spine; in addition it helps to compensate for the weight of the saddle and rider by allowing a free area for the horse to place his backbone and use himself more efficiently.

Saddle fit is such a unique and often complicated process. The materials and design of Cavallo Total Comfort System Saddle pads will make your horse more comfortable and provide a more willing partner for your riding fun.