Levi has a difficult back for saddle fitting. He’s got big withers and huge shoulders with deep pockets behind the shoulders. What makes it worse is his one shoulder is much bigger than the other.
Anytime I do a saddle trial I can usually get one side to fit, but not both. I’m sure a custom saddle would be the best solution, but I can’t afford two of them. While, I finally caved and ordered a custom dressage saddle, I still need my jumping saddle to function for now. For the last year, I’ve used a Fleeceworks pad shimmed with ThinLine pads. The shims the Fleeceworks pad came with were essentially useless. When I had a saddle fitter check my jumping saddle on Levi, she added some ThinLine shims that she custom cut to help with his shoulder gap. I bought the pad used and it’s done well enough over the last year, but it’s gotten to a pretty gross state and I’ve been really wanting to replace it with a black one to keep things looking cleaner.
I did quite a bit of online shopping trying to decide which pad to get. I wanted a shimmable sheepskin half pad. I don’t like the Thinline sheepskin pads themselves, though I like the shims. I really like the TSF pad I use with Nilla, but I needed a 4 shim, not 6 shim setup for Levi. I considered getting another Fleeceworks pad and shimming it with the ThinLine pads, but I’d rather buy a complete product instead of mixing and matching.
A few months ago Country and Stable emailed me to ask if I’d like to do a review in exchange for a free product. I turned the offer down because I don’t do reviews in exchange for products, but I did check out their site because I love looking at horse stuff. Especially British horse stuff. I have been seriously lusting after these shaped LeMieux saddle pads in burgundy:
But I have this stupid goal for the year to not buy any more saddle pads. I never should have made that goal. While I could justify the new half pad (the old one is really not in show condition anymore), my current burgundy XC pad is fine. That’s not to say I’m not still holding out hope that the LeMieux pad will just mysteriously show up at my door one day, but that seem unlikely. Spending time browsing the LeMieux pads brought my attention to the LeMieux Pro Sorb Half Pad.
It had the perfect combination of features: sheepskin, shimmable, comes in black, comes with thick memory foam shims, is shaped for a high wither, and comes in a size L (I have an 18″ saddle). Country & Stable turned out to have the best price with free shipping. They seem to have the best prices on LeMieux saddle pads all around. I’ll certainly keep that in mind when it’s 2019 and I can finally buy that burgundy XC pad.
I really like just how much the shaping allows for wither relief without having the usual split down the middle. There’s also a big channel for spine relief on the underside.
My new custom dressage saddle arrived in time for me to take it to Coconino, but it needed to have the panels reshaped for Levi’s back (I told you he’s tricky to fit) and the saddle was sitting too far down in the front. The saddle maker was away for a few weeks and unable to fix it until we got back from Coconino. Luckily, the half pad arrived in time. Although I’d intended it to replace my jumping half pad, I put it to service in dressage at Coconino.
I debated using my old white half pad for dressage given the downpour, but then I was literally too lazy to go unstrap it (it lives attached to the jumping saddle) when the time came. I was worried the new pad might get ruined in the rain or stain my saddle pad black, but neither of those things happened. The pad survived the deluge without any injury and my white dressage pad wasn’t affected either.
My favorite part of the pad is the shims. They’re thicker and more squishy (technical term) than the ThinLine shims. I took a picture of the Fleecworks, ThinLine, and Pro-Sorb all together so you can see the difference.
I don’t really know how to measure squishiness, but the Pro-Sorb pads are definitely more squishy. They feel like a denser memory foam instead of the harder yoga mat type feel of the ThinLine. I’m not saying the ThinLine shims are bad, but I was looking for something with a bit more give. My ideal pad would probably be an Ogilvy Sheepskin pad, but those are super expensive.
I also like that the LeMieux pad comes in a large size. My custom saddle is back in the shop getting fixed, so I am using my husband’s previous saddle – an 18.5″ M. Toulouse – in the meantime. While my Fleeceworks pad is too small to fit under this saddle, the LeMieux pad fits.
Side note: this saddle is for sale if anyone’s interested.
I couldn’t find a lot of reviews for this half pad when I was thinking about ordering it, so I wanted to share my review here for anyone considering one. I really like the pad and I’m looking forward to moving it to my jumping saddle as soon as my dressage saddle gets back.
Disclaimer: This product was purchased with my own gift card. I was not given this product in exchange for the review, I was not required to write a review for this product, and I did not receive compensation for this review.