Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Half Pad Review Rundown - Thinline, Ecogold, Ogilvy

Plus you can totes ride with no half pad.
Halfpads are such a fun puzzle. They are very, very faddish and yet they all purport to help...something... and we shell out lots of money for them. Today I'm going to focus on the three most expensive half pads I've owned and the logic for them. You'll note that none of them are sheepskin. Here's why:

My friends in the medical industry point out that coma patients are not swaddled in sheepskin. If it really had magical properties, they'd be all up in that shit, but they're not. Rather, humans in need of pressure relief and long term comfort are all about the high tech foam. Say what you will about modern medicine, I'd rather be a coma patient in 2014 than 1014. Sorry sheep. (Not sorry? They get to keep their skin in my world.)

First up:

There is a lot of new stuff in this picture
Thinline Trifecta with sheepskin rolls - Smartpak $157 with free shipping

I bought this pad several years ago. Thinline was WAAAAY trendy then. I think it's sort of fading now, but maybe that's just because it's old hat to me and I don't feel that interested.

Regardless. I bought this pad because I wanted something shimmable and magical to make my extremely picky mare happy. (Duly noted: if you are a one-horse ammy who lessons infrequently, the odds are that your hormonal mare needs her ass kicked more than a magikal half pad. Hindsight being what it is.)

Izzy canters in the thinline
Anyways. This pad fit the bill, right down to the stylish sheepskin rolls. It didn't have the skeepskin under the saddle, because even I thought that was excessive.

This pad did the job. I know a lot of people argue that thinline holds heat and can lead towards soft tissue injury and blah blah blah. To them I say this: IT'S UNDER A SADDLE THAT'S UNDER YOUR ASS. Heat is going to happen. I think the heat argument is a very legitimate reason to not use certain boots, but I don't get worked up about saddle pads for that reason.

I sold this pad a short while after I sold my mare, because it really did add a lot of bulk under the saddle. It worked fine--between that and a well-fitted saddle, I really never had any soreness issues with my mare.

It's not a bad option, but if you're buying half pads to stay on trend, it's a bit dated.

There is a lot of new stuff in this picture
Ecogold Triple Protection half pad - Ecogold $165 plus shipping

My next crazy splurge in the half pad world was the totally on-trend ecogold that comes in a lovely shade of brown. I love brown. It also comes in more boring colors, but wutevs. Not interested.

I bought this some time after the infamous m&ms test. It's a nice pad. It's a little rigid, which isn't quite the right word. The very soft foam holds it's shape very well, and that shape is pretty set. It works on the horse just fine and it's easy to store because it folds up nice and flat. It doesn't just collapse onto the horse, I guess is what I'm trying to say.

Canter pictures seemed like a good idea
That said. (Whatever it was.) While the ecogold is maybe the least sexy option I'm talking about today, I used it constantly with my MW saddle that didn't quite fit Mr. C-rage. He has never exhibited any signs of back soreness. That actually impresses me.

The saddle wasn't a bad fit, but it definitely wasn't great and I never had any ill effects from it. I will give the ecogold triple protection pad at least some of the credit for that.

I even still own this pad. It's thin enough that it can go under pretty much anything, but it seems to do a nice job on the horses and I have no burning urge to sell it.

Only the half pad is new in this picture.
Ogilvy Jumper Half Pad - Ogilvy Equestrian $199 plus shipping

If you've ever used social media, you know that Ogilvy is red hot right now. I'm going to risk sounding like a hipster right now and say that I was aware of them long before their recent rise in popularity, but I grant you the custom covers and all are way more sexy than the weird old colors they used to have in the Dover catalogs.

Anyways. I think a major drawback to these pads is the ridiculous wait time attached to your custom order. Talk about an impulse buy buzz kill. I held out for a good long time because I already had the ecogold and I have the patience of a caffeinated quail, but then one popped up on eBay in the colors I wanted and I just happened to have money in my checking account. Whoops.

More cantering. Ogilvy in action.
I did get some free front risers with my ebay buy, so I guess that was nice. Like the thinline, the Ogilvy is completely shimmable. Unlike the ecogold, it's also totally washable. I actually think this is one of the best perks of ogilvy--as long as you don't buy the gummy pad, you can just take the inserts out and wash the cover. NONE of the other half pads offer this option.

Dunno 'bout the rest of y'all, but my shit gets dirty and I like the idea of being able to clean it.

Maybe an ogilvy will make your horse jump like this
The Ogilvy, much like the ecogold, really does seem to pad out the rough patches in saddle fit, whether that's a little hollow behind the wither or tree panels a little too wide for the horse. I've been quite pleased with the sweat marks under all the saddles I've tried in both pads.

I have heard people criticize the Ogilvy pads for being too thick and changing the fit of a saddle. My pad in the regular 1" thickness and it squishes down well enough that I really haven't noticed a difference. When I tried a slightly-too-wide saddle on Courage, I did have to use the front shims to make it fit. Yeah, it looks like a lot when you're tacking up, but they squish right down and you have to tighten the girth a lot after you get on.

This is how we jump in an ecogold
Wrap up

We live in a really cool time for technology, both equine and otherwise. I've certainly enjoyed playing with trendy half pads, but at the end of the day, a well-fitting saddle and solid training is more important that brand names and cute colors.

That said.

If your saddle fits, by all means, buy the cutest half pad you can afford. They don't hurt the horse, might possibly help, and everyone loves looking at pretty things.

Because sometimes we just play dress up
PS My conscience compels me to point out that at no point have my horses struggled with significant back soreness. Whether that's because I always have a majikal half pad or because I buy saddles that fit or because I don't ride very much or because my horses are made of iron or because I'm just bloody lucky, I really can't say.


  1. Lol - love your take on the half pads!
    Thanks for sharing :D

  2. Bahaha. Love this! I use a cheap (CHEAAAAP!) Dover wither relief pad that is about on its last legs after 4 years of almost daily use. It works great. Smushes where it needs to and doesn't where it doesn't. It's not too thick, and it's not too thin. I just wish it offered more (ironically) wither clearance. That said, it's ugly as sin and I wish some of the nicer looking options were as durable as cheap. Alas, they are not ... and I am a cheapskate.

    Now, back to drooling over everyone's Ogilvy pads.

  3. Half pads are very trendy nowadays and I've definitely bought into the hype... especially of the Ogilvy. I just wish that the 1" foam was standard, and not a custom order!

  4. Great review - I think they key thing for people to realize is that some pads have a medical purpose and some don't> Thinline are shock absorption, Ecogold are too but also non slip, and Ogilvys are just to add comfort. I have the other Ecogold style and I really like it if you are looking for less bulk. That being said - my horses all prefer the Ogilvy and they each have their own. They have all been pretty happy since riding in them.

  5. I have an equifit pad that you can remove the cover and wash. It's still in good shape but when it goes I will probably et the Ogilvy for the same reason.

  6. First, THANK YOU for this post! I have been waiting for someone to compare all of the half pad options out there, and this is great. I have been hemming and hawing about getting an Ogilvy in the (near) future because my custom Antares saddle will only be custom to me, not a specific horse. I have been using a Dover half pad that has worked pretty well, but again, who doesn't want pretty things? :)

  7. I'm still a Thinline fan. Yes, they're not as trendy as before but I really try to avoid overly trendy tack... just skeptical.

    1. If I remember correctly Thinline was all the rage when it first came out. I personally haven't used one of the pads but the boots I tried made the horses legs on fire.

      Ogilvy all the way for this girl! I love that it doesn't change the fit of my saddle (1" foam) and it's pretty! And it helps my back too so mega points there :)

      Great post SB!

    2. Yup, Thinline was suuuuuuuuuuper trendy like 5 years ago, I remember how everyone just had to have one! That said, I did like mine a lot. Just not quite as much as the Ogilvy. They're both good pads and they were both popular for a reason, not just because they're "trendy".

  8. Thanks, this is great!

  9. I disagree with the above comment that Ogilvy's are only to add comfort. Very few things absorb shock like memory foam. It exceeds my old Thinline in that regard for sure, and I found the Thinline to be very shock absorbing. I've also found that it does for sure help even out saddle fit to some degree.

    As far as the "trendy" part, I actually really didn't want to look at Ogilvy originally for just that reason. I won't buy that kind of stuff just for the sake of being trendy. Once I tried it I discovered they were popular for a reason. ;)

    Good post!

  10. Lovely review as always, darling.

    Also? Here's where I'm gonna step in it: I think some horses do have legit issues with back soreness. Seneca, for instance, has ultrasound-diagnosed kissing spines. BUT I ALSO think that a lot of time what people are calling "back soreness" is bad behavior, and will be magically fixed by getting the horse in front of the leg. So you're lucky, and you're conscientious about tack fit, and you take good care of your horses. But I also think that it's not the widespread problem people seem to think. I've ridden hundreds of horses and only one of them (Mr. S) actually has back problems. And you know what we do for the kissing spines? We don't plop right down on his back at the mounting block. We let him walk a few steps and ease into it. After that, he's a happy guy.

    Yeah, I know. I just can't keep my stupid fingers still. But the point remains: yay half pads. M rides everything in a Dover fleece half pad and she is gliterally the least trend-conscious horse person I know. HER BOOTS DON'T EVEN BACK ZIP!!!!

    1. I think there are back problems (kissing spines etc) and then there are behavior problems, but let's be real... most of our horses behave badly because we're slamming around on their backs and making everything about them sore. Maybe they don't have technical back problems, but they sure can have a sore back/hocks/feet/whatever because we're pounding around on them or riding them like garbage. A half pad can be a savior to a horse's back in that case!

    2. I have nothing to say about half-pads, since I use a simple dressage style wool pad under my very well fit saddle. However, I do have something to say about saddle fit, back soreness and a horse acting out.

      Mark Rashid believes that a horse acting out is about us: our riding, our use of the aids, our equipment. Horses aren't acting out to be dicks or bitches. They are acting sore because they are sore. They are trying to get our attention the only way they know how, because we missed their more subtle communication.

      I completely concur with Mark. If I hear of a horse acting out or acting badly, my first instinct is to evaluate the tack being used to discover where the rider may have gone wrong.

      I have spent two years finding the right saddle for Ashke, because even the slightest issue with saddle fit and his back is sore.Yes. He is sensitive and certainly not stoic about body pain, but I figure that with the amount of riding I do, asking him to work while his saddle doesn't fit is like asking me to hike in high-heels. I may be able to tolerate heels for a very short amount of time (combined with alcohol) but I am going to be very unhappy wearing them on a daily basis.

      Even if the saddle seems to fit, I believe the horse might be feeling something we can't see or diagnose. The horse will tell you when the saddle is correct or which one they want. I figure it's kind of like me always buying North Face shoes over Nikes - they both fit, they are about the same cost wise, but I ENJOY the NF ones better. If I feel that way about shoes, I should at least expect that my horse is going to have an opinion about the saddle.

      This concept goes beyond saddle fit to overall fitness of the horse to the work we are asking them to do. Maybe it's their hocks or the neck is out of whack or they just don't feel good. As a rider I would rather change what my expectations are on any given day and listen to my horse than to push and perhaps injure: injure him physically or injure him mentally, because I didn't want to listen.

    3. Of course, shitty riding and equipment can cause all kinds of problems. Not knowing how to get the horse in front of your leg can result in all manner of bad things, for instance. I love my Ogilvy pad but my mare needs to learn that I'm the boss and no half pad will fix that. Because she does have physical problems, I'm managing those. But that isn't going to transform her from a green alpha mare to a broke quiet school horse. To look out for her back, I cleaned out my bank account for an Ogilvy and an Antares.

    4. And the rest of it to the diagnosis and treatment of nuchal bursitis, which isn't going to make her a perfect angel either but will allow her to learn comfortably.

  11. I think I'm the only person in the world who has never and never plans on using a half pad haha. They just don't do it for me and I've always felt like they're a total hype item and in the long run not all that useful.

  12. Great post, good info and full of laughs! Love me some Ogilvy!

  13. I've been using the same Prolite half pad for, geez..... 5 or 6 years now. I had a Supracor before that (remember when they were trendy?), and I still have it and use it with my lunging surcingle. I suppose, for the record, I still have and use the same schooling dressage pad (a good old sturdy Classics III) that I bought for my first horse. Hes been dead for ten years now so it's pretty old! Lots of other pads have come and gone but never had one last like this one. I can't afford nice new things unless I need them anyway.

  14. I love half pads. I have too many. I too knew about ogilvy and held out on buying one for so long because it just seemed like so much money. But I love mine. I'm so glad I eventually gave in.

  15. I have two of the three and love them both!

  16. I never got into the whole Thinline thing. I do love my Christ sheepskin, but my Ogilvy tops pretty much all of the half pads I've used over the years as far as feeling like it makes difference.

  17. They may be old school, but Thinline pads have actual science backing up their claims of magical properties, so does EcoGold. Oglivy does not.

  18. They may no longer be trendy, but I do love my Supracor half pads. They don't change the fit of my saddle, it offers good cushioning/shock absorption, it helps keep your horse's back cool, and its super easy to clean. I've always bought mine on eBay or Craig's list so they are not extraordinarily expensive. I occasionally use an ultra thin line pad over my fitted pad when out hunting because I think it gives a bit of extra cushioning without bulk.

    1. Would you call me crazy if I combined my 2 half pads with a baby pad? I have a Supracor and Thinline (its just the trimmed one, Not the Triffecta or no sheepskin) My Stubben Roxanne fits my guy great, Just curious about more shock absorption. Now I see some pads like Ecogold and Cavallo etc. Have triple protection. Am I nuts for wondering how they would or could work together? hhhmmm?

    2. Darlene--not crazy, but maybe a little misguided. If your saddle already fits well, putting a lot of extra bulk under it will just serve to narrow the tree and make it fit less well.

      For a well fitting saddle, I like just a thin pad and half pad to keep everything comfy. Extreme padding options tend to be because the saddle doesn't fit and there's a driving reason not to replace it.

  19. My mare is bouncy at the canter, at least for me. So a half pad of any kind absorbs some of that shock for both of us. I can't imagine not using one, and have been looking to switch to a foam one to increase shock absorption.

    Now remember in the medical field we also worry about germs, and foam is easier to clean than sheepskin. We still use cotton fluffed booties for bed bound patients and I still see quads etc with sheepskin on leg braces etc. So sheepskin does fill gaps and soften edges. But I agree memory foam is a great invention.

    I really did not need to read this because with a looming bday an Ogilvy sounds like a great gift to myself ;)

  20. I just love so much about this post that I can't even comment because all of it

  21. I know that my response is a few months late but I just saw this post. I was choosing between 2 horses, a wide warmblood and a narrower thoroughbred. I have not been using a half pad on my QH so this was new to me. I borrowed friends and found with the warmblood I preferred the Olgilvy but with the thoroughbred I liked the added protection of the sheepskin Mattes for his withers. I decided to go with the thoroughbred and the sheepskin Mattes pad. I went yesterday with my friend to buy a new Mattes pad but the store was out of them. My friend convinced me to buy a Thinline instead and this morning I realized it doesn’t have sheepskin. I am still a little worried about his withers without the sheepskin but your review made me feel a little better. I have never had a horse with a back issue before and Tango doesn’t (knock on wood) but my trainer said that I HAD to have a half pad. I also just ordered a new saddle so I am hoping that it fits him. At this point I am just babbling and worrying, but I just want to do what is best for my new guy!

  22. I loved this! I own all of the above pads listed plus the Mattes correction and Beval wither relief. I love them all for different reasons. I am now getting suckered into wanting to try the new Total Saddle Fit wither freedom half pad just because the design is so fascinating and having a horse with high withers... I must try it! lol

  23. I'm late too, but just stumbled on this post -- I've never used an Oglivy b/c they did not give Science Girl Science & I didn't like the bulk.

    Oh & the Ecogold pads are absolutely machine washable, as verified to me direct by the designer & manufacturer. And "field tested" by me in my *gasp* garage sale top load washer. I soak them & then wash on gentle cycle, as directed. Perfect.

    I only use a half pad if I "half" to (hahha, see what I did there?), I do have a simple ThinLine Ultra that did help both Solo & I (we both came with bum backs), that a friend kindly gave me.

    But as soon as I bought the Ecogold, it got put in the bottom of the box. At once of our Area II Annual Meetings, right when Ecogold began marketing their product, John & Patricia Da Silva, the owners gave a presentation -- John is a textile engineer, so omg, Science Girl so happy. I later emailed him all my annoying science questions...and he ANSWERED them! I've had other interactions with both, AWESOME people, but their science is also legit.

    I use this pad under my jumping saddle b/c unfortunately, its short tree points create pressure points on my giant withered horses, despite very careful & skilled fitting. I cannot afford to buy saddles (those were all gifts too), but the Ecogold pad = instant ZERO pressure points & much more willing horse. I also have their square Secure Jumper pad, equally awesome, actually does make major breathability difference when used alone, I can hose it down & it dries in 5 minutes.

    I don't know why I can't write short things anymore, my brain broke two years ago, I never got it back, sorry. :/

  24. I prefer the 5 star saddle pads. This pad is an investment in your horse's comfort. It contains 100% virgin wool which offers superior quality, wicking, cooling, and compression protection. The cut of the pad, a French curve back line with wither slope, provides a comfortable fit on your horse's back that protects against pressure points. Great saddle pads for high withered horses.


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