Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tack review: Wither Freedom Half Pad from Total Saddle Fit

I finally realized that with all of the stuff I've bought, I should review some of it.  I'm going to start with one of my favorites:  Six Point Saddle Pad - Wither Freedom Half Pad from Total Saddle Fit.

Background:  Theo has fairly high withers, nothing too shocking, but they're freakishly long and pretty wide.  They go on forever, I swear.  The saddle fitter was slightly horrified when she saw them.  My saddle was carefully fitted, but I was still seeing some wither soreness.  It seemed that the pads were pressing down on the back part of his withers (where most horses don't have withers anymore) and I wanted to get as much clearance as possible as far back as possible.  Theo is also a total princess, so even the pressure of pads pressing down on the back of his withers is enough to make him gnash his teeth.  Regular wither relief pads and sheepskin half pads weren't enough, so I went out to find something that would give him all of the clearance and pressure relief he needed.

The product:  This is a sheepskin half pad that has pockets for shims.  It's all pretty standard fare except the wither relief.  It is completely open in the front and the opening runs about half way down the pad.  This is supposed to keep pressure off of the withers and even the trapezius muscles.  The velcro straps in front strap onto the D-rings of the saddle to keep it from sliding down instead of the usual wither relief pads that have a hole but close in front (and usually end up sitting on the highest point of the withers if you have a shark fin TB).

The review:  Out of the box, the sheepskin felt nice and it had good quality to it.  Quite fluffy, definitely check the girth after mounting.  I got the black model to avoid it showing dirt or yellowing and I love the way it looks with my champagne pad from PS of Sweden.

It's about three months old in that pic and looking very nice still, it has held up well.  I use it about five times a week.  I've had zero trouble with it sliding down which was a big concern of mine.  You can see in the pic that it's a bit big on my 17" CC saddle, but it looks fine.  It would probably handle an 18" saddle without trouble. 

It really does a fantastic job of keeping pressure off of the withers.  When I tack up, the saddle pad gets a tug so it's up off of his withers and the half pad keeps it neatly in place.  The opening runs back to his trapezius muscles and the saddle pad tends to get sucked up and off of his spine back to that point.  It's hard to tell when he's tacked up, but as far as I can tell, there's zero pressure on his withers for the entire length.  Not even pad pressure.  The real result is that after using this for a couple weeks, he stopped reacting to having the wither area palpated and we're now seeing some muscle development. 

Down side:  Saddle pads underneath this half pad can get tricky.  You'll need billet loops to keep them from sliding around and it takes a long billet loop to go over the sheepskin.  Something about the shape gives me more trouble than a typical half pad.  My PS of Sweden pad doesn't move, but it has massive billet loops that go over the sheepskin without any trouble.  My pad where I cut the billet loops off?  Disappeared under the saddle by halfway through my ride.  Takes a bit of trial and error and I'm still working on it. 

Final Take:  For me, this thing has been a huge step in getting Theo pain free.  I don't agree with TSF marketing messaging about their products being amazing for everyone (review of their girth will come later), but if you have a horse that's prone to wither pain after getting the saddle properly fitted, this is a product worth trying.  The price is pretty average for a sheepskin half pad and it's a quality product. 


  1. interesting! i haven't heard much about TSF products other than the girth, which seems to only get hugely positive or hugely 'meh' reviews lol

  2. Can someone tell me if it’s real sheepskin? I’ve just bought one that’s clearly on a man made weave...when I part the wool...fluff, it’s not back onto sheepskin. Have I bought a lemon?