Horse rider equitation shock absorbing saddle pads

For the Cutting Pen, Blogger Megan Georges.

Riding quietly up in the saddle is a challenge faced by professionals and amateurs alike, in every sport encompassing the horse industry. There are difficulties found balancing aesthetically on a horse whether you’re a dressage rider learning to sit your warmblood’s trot. Or, the cutting horse trainer staying afloat when a naughty cow takes an unexpected turn.

As a rider’s skills progress so do the demands for maintaining a passively still yet effectively mobile position.

Just recently I accepted an offer to try out ThinLine saddle pads and I am wowed at how well their thin and light pads helped my riding in so many ways. With its shock absorption qualities filtering out the unnecessary rattle typically felt while riding I:

  • can focus clearer on the feel of my horse’s footfalls and therefore—the timing of my aids;
  • have a more adhesive connection between my thigh and the horse’s back;
  • feel as if I am sitting IN my horse rather than ON my horse;
  • keep a more deliberate position of my pelvis with minimal effort.

A week later after receiving this ThinLine Pad I got a  ThinLine Plus Pad to try and I used it on both horses, Quimero and TNT. With Quimero I still felt the buffer effect of eradicating extraneous noise and moving body parts on my lower half, although I had lost a little of the “sitting-in-him” feel. On TNT, the four-year-old Zweibrucker gelding—this proved to be a good thing. At his young age, the exchange of pressure points between his back and my seat are improved by having fewer communications. While he is no longer considered a green horse by any means he needs to be placing more of his focus on balancing himself and a rider in an athletic frame versus interpreting each little bobble or bounce as an aid or a cue for something. He has highly suspended ground covering strides and much of the time he still feels like a slippery fish swimming around underneath me. Straightness is currently our goal, but not yet our way of going. With this extra buoyant moving horse, at times I find myself using a little extra thigh pressure to stabilize my pelvis on him. Due to the way the ThinLine pad is contoured through the panel saddle-skirt area, he is more tolerable of this gentle squeeze of my upper legs than he was before I began using the ThinLine pad. 


This new thigh pressure can make the transition from being started in a Western saddle to being ridden in an English saddle a monumental task, particularly for the horse with a lot of “feel” to him. Using a well-fitting Western saddle for their first 30 days under saddle is quite useful. The large seat and skirts provide a wide weight-bearing surface and a more comfortable feel for a young horse than an English saddle that directs weight to more specific and central areas of their top-line muscles. The former saddle is also more forgiving to the trainer’s needs to hang on during the periodic oops-moments that tend to occur in those first 30 days as well. It’s not as big of a deal to a horse if their human “backpack” puts a little extra weight in the left stirrup as the horse loses balance and falls into the right they are wearing a big Western saddle. But in an English saddle, that same scenario would feel quite different; all of that weight in the stirrup is going to traction all the way up the stirrup leather and into the right side of their withers. Now the horse has two issues… he lost his balance and he got punished with a poke in the wither region. In the English saddle, we must be more balanced—even more, responsible for our own body weight. I do this by using thigh pressure. But this can be interpreted by a horse as an “ask” to do something. This is why I appreciate the extra buffer effect ThinLine provides on these bouncy young horses.

I also used both: the ThinLine and ThinLine Plus pad stacked together, ThinLine on top. I’ve decided I will be using this combination on Quimero from now on for these reasons:

  • I felt as if Quimero’s back was slightly higher in this pad combination. Not because of the extra height provided by extra padding, but because he felt freer and more capable of lifting his back.
  • I felt more “airtime” under his hind feet.
  • The sitting “in” him feel that I found with the Ultra not only remained but was magnified. It was as if I had a direct line of communication into his center of gravity like the ability to move the middle noodle of a giant bowl of spaghetti without having to disrupt the outermost noodles.

I don’t believe there are any true shortcuts in learning to ride or building a relationship with a horse, and no one piece of equipment that will solve all of our issues, but I can truly attest that if I’d had a ThinLine pad ten years ago I most likely could have shaved a year off of Quimero’s training. ~MG

home banner 2 mobile 1


Originally Posted by FromtheCuttingPen on May 21st, 2014
Reposted by ThinLine on May 21th, 2015


from Phoenix Rising Equestrian Center, Texas


“My name is Megan Georges. I’ve been riding horses since I was five years old. I’ve been riding dressage for the past 15 years. I’ve been a dressage trainer and instructor since 2003. In 2006 and 2007 I had two bad horse accidents which prompted me to seek answers from a different perspective.

Coming from a predominantly English riding background I’ve been shocked to learn that horses with a Western performance background are far more responsive than English horses! For reasons I will discuss in upcoming pages, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time cross-training in Western riding disciplines. What I’ve learned over the past two years has been so exciting to me that I’ve decided to share as much as I can in a blog.”

Visit Megan’s Blog  

You might also be interested in our article on the best shock absorbing stirrups for knee pain.