Over the past decade, the half pad has evolved drastically. When I started riding in 2012, the go-to half pad was the good ol’ Supracor Cool Grip. I soon after became a tack junkie and wanted to try every new half pad I could get my hands on. Since then, I’ve tried loads of half pads in an effort to make both my horse and I as comfortable as possible. Good saddle fit has always been the most important thing of course, so balancing fit while adding comfort has always been at the forefront of things. Just to give you an idea of what I’ve tried before this, here’s the list of every half pad I’ve tried: Supracor Cool Grip, Thinline Trifecta, Ogilvy Memory Foam, Acavallo Memory Foam/Gel, EquiFit ImpacTeq, T3 Matrix, LamiCell, Fleeceworks Therawool and PJ Butterfly half pads, Mattes Platinum Sheepskin, and the Invictus Necesse. Some I used for a few years, others for a handful of rides before determining they weren’t right for me. The one I’ve stuck with the longest by far is the Invictus Necesse, which I used for years. It’s a phenomenal half pad that provides great impact protection for the horse without sacrificing close contact. It’s been my top recommendation as far as half pads go…until now! First, here is Winderen‘s description of their Back Protect Solution Half Pad:
The Winderen Saddle Half Pad with Back Protect Solution technology was designed to make you feel relaxed in the saddle while protecting both your and your horse’s back. Five technologically advanced layers provide you with maximum comfort, stability and enhance your riding experience by connecting horse and rider in complete harmony. See how we combined cutting-edge technology with elegance and comfort.
Ballistic Nylon Upper Shell: Replaceable, wear and tear-resistant, and durable – the upper shell protects the rest of the layers from external factors and prevents the Saddle Half Pad from moving and slipping underneath the saddle.
Dynamic Stabilization: This modern material is used to increase the surface of the saddle in contact with the horse’s back and thereby stabilizes the saddle. This layer helps to compensate for the horse’s body structure when the saddle does not fit properly.
Force Equalizer: This non-Newtonian material used in modern military industries is highly flexible and offers a substantial ability to store and absorb kinetic energy. It is used to capture excess energy generated while riding.
Biomechanical Connective Tissue: The synthetic biomechanical connective tissue designed to protect the muscles under the pad reduces the forces acting on the muscles along the horse’s back and to facilitate their loosening and development.
Kevlar Bottom Shell: This layer has been designed to make the Back Protect Solution Saddle Half Pad stay firmly on the saddle cloth preventing the saddle from slipping. The porous structure of the Kevlar mesh ensures that the system of absorbers is supplied with fresh air protecting it against moisture.
I really appreciate that every part of the pad has a purpose – even the cover is designed to add to the overall effectiveness of the pad. Winderen completed a lab study on the pad’s shock absorption properties as well – you can dive deeper into their technology here!
Disclaimer: I received this pad from Winderen for free for the purpose of this review. Being gifted products allows me to try a wider variety of items to put to the test and review for you. Receiving an item for free does not influence my opinions, which are always 100% truthful and my own.
This review is based on seven points that I find are key for a half pad: performance, quality, fit, washability, durability, aesthetics, and value.
Performance – 10/10
- This is one of the only half pads I’ve used where I felt an immediate difference. I have scoliosis and my spine cannot properly absorb impact due to its curvature. I’m pretty much always in some sort of back pain, and this pad has helped reduce the pain I get from riding.
- In addition to being super comfy, it actually makes me feel really close and connected to the horse – it’s like the half pad becomes an extension of the saddle’s panels.
- Great impact protection (I even tried putting my hand on a metal pole, put the pad over it, then punched it as hard as I could. No pain whatsoever). I was worried that the amount of impact protection would dampen communication, but it definitely did not which is great.
- All of the horses I’ve been riding have gone wonderfully in it – round through the back, engaged in their hind end, nice and relaxed.
- Wither cutout portion has a stretchy material, ensuring it will never press on the withers.
- Makes the saddle super stable and there is zero slippage under the saddle
- Even after a good workout on an unclipped horse, this pad has never gotten sweaty. The bottom mesh fabric works really well at wicking moisture and providing airflow.
Quality – 10/10
- Everything about this half pad is nice. From the wood keepsake box, to the use of zippers vs. annoying velcro, to the fact that they even went so far as to label and cover the individual inserts.
- This half pad is clearly made with high-quality construction and premium materials.
Fit – 10/10
- Runs pretty true to size. I have an 18″ Voltaire Saddle, which runs about a half size big. I got the 18″ size which fits perfectly. The test pad I used before I got mine was a 17″ which worked fine too but I had to make sure it was perfectly adjusted under the saddle for it to fit.
- The wither cutout part makes it easy to pull it up into the gullet of the saddle
- Because the top cover material really grips onto the saddle, you have to pay extra attention to how it’s positioned under the saddle to make sure it’s coming into full contact with the panels of your saddle. If you’ve always had your half pad attached to your saddle of just throw it on and go, make sure you take a little more time to make sure it’s placed correctly and evenly. Once it’s adjusted though, the pad won’t move an inch!
Washability – 10/10
- Just take out the inserts and throw the cover in the wash. I wash everything in cold water so that’s what I did with this, then air-dried. It looked good as new!
Durability – 10/10
- I’ve been using this half pad for every ride since mid-November and I honestly didn’t even have to wash it, I just did to see how it would wash for this review. It still looks brand new – no wear marks on the suede-like top either. I predict this pad will last me years, especially when factoring in the fabrics the cover is made of (ballistic nylon & kevlar).
- Also includes a 1 year warranty!
Aesthetics – 10/10
- These half pads are low profile in design and beautiful. I chose to go with classic black, to no one’s surprise. There are also lots of fun colors to choose from, like a unique turmeric yellow, a gorgeous teal, a bright red, and even one with rose gold accents. I love that like the Ogilvy pads, you have the option to purchase covers separately so you can change up the look if you want to. I would love for them to eventually come out with customizable color combos!
- This pad adds a little flair with the logo flap on the back. It’s a subtle, interesting way to add their branding and I find it particularly helpful for making sure the pad and saddle are perfectly aligned in the on the horse’s back.
Value – 10/10
- At $272.62, it’s slightly more expensive than other popular half pads, but it’s also a whole lot better. A great half pad that actually works is worth its weight in gold to me, so this one is worth every penny. Of all the things we spend money on with horses, this is a good place to spend it. We can easily spend more on boots, bridles, show jackets, and breeches, so $273 for something that will actually make you and your horse more comfortable is a great value to me.
It takes an exceptional product to get a perfect 10/10 for me. I honestly couldn’t find anything to fault this pad on. It works so well, looks great, is easy to care for, and seems like it will last forever. It’s everything I could want in a high-performance half pad. Great job, Winderen!
Winderen Back Protect Solution Half Pad$272.62
- Super comfortable
- Provides a great connection and stability in the saddle
- Great impact absorption
- High-quality construction and materials
- Replaceable/interchangeable covers
- Moisture-wicking & has great air flow
- Wither cutout with stretch insert ensures comfort for even high-withered horses
- Easy care