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Best Bareback Pads and Treeless Saddle Pads for Horse Back Pain: Haf Pad, Toklat Saddle Pad, Skito Pads, Equipedic, Barefoot Physio

Horse Back Pain - PSSM Horse Friendly Tack - Haf, bareback pad, bitless

Originally posted 7/25/16

Since having my horse I’ve been on a quest to find tack that’s comfortable for him. From well before our horse back pain issues and the discovery of PSSM, I noticed he preferred bareback pads over saddles. In an effort to make these setups as healthy as possible for him I started trialing different treeless saddles and pads to find a perfect fit. Here’s some of our experiences with treeless saddle pads (and one very special bareback pad – the Barefoot Physio!).

Most of these treeless saddle pads were bought used off ebay.

Horse Back Pain Trials: Haf pad for treeless saddles

  • Reason for trying: horse back pain with treed saddles
  • Tried with cheap eBay saddle and bareback pad
  • Sat too close to his withers and didn’t really help secure the saddle – mostly the fault of the saddle
Jax in his Haf pad and Mustang bareback pad, getting a neck rub after our ride

Horse Back Pain Trials: Skito pads for Bob Marshall (Treeless Saddles)

  • Reason for trying: horse back pain with treed saddles
  • Somewhat slippery with a bareback pad
  • Bought used, new inserts are expensive and needed but the old inserts worked for trying out
  • Fits western-style treeless saddles very well, doesn’t slip as much as it did with the bareback pad
  • I ended up selling this pad as it was just too slippery and Jax didn’t really care for it (he hates tack that slips around)

Horse Back Pain Trials: Toklat Saddle Pads (Cool Back)

  • Reason for trying: horse back pain with treed saddles
  • Bought used, thought the inserts were a bit flimsy so made new inserts for it with memory foam and poron
  • Starting out, it kept both my bareback pad and my Torsion secure, and with the new inserts kept my seat bones from digging in his back.  As it broke in more, seemed to allow more movement for both the Torsion and the bareback pad
  • Kept my western-style show treeless very secure, but was too short on the sides to protect him from the girth rigging (not a fault of the pad, it just wasn’t a style meant for the western saddles)
  • If you’ve seen my Ghost saddle review, you know that I had pressure points under the saddle.  I had used my Toklat pad and thought nothing about the pad possibly causing this.  After a not-so-long trail ride in my bareback pad with the Toklat in mid 2016, I once again had pressure spots.  Turns out, it was actually friction from the Toklat pad sliding around, a problem we didn’t have until we started working on a lot of hills.  My first three or so years with Jax we had used only Reinsman pads, and apparently Jax does much better with Tacky Too products than wool felt, woolback, or coolback products – go figure. January 2021 Update: Jax does AMAZING in merino wool saddle pads! They’re not slippering and much easier to clean than you’d think, and I now use only merino wool or Back On Track saddle pads!
Jax in his Toklat pad and Best Friend bareback pad, checking out a new obstacle. I liked the Best Friend bareback pad a lot, but I wanted to find something with it’s own spinal clearance to help protect Jax’s back.

Horse Back Pain Trials: Equipedic treeless saddle pad

  • Reason for trying: horse back pain with treed saddles
  • Was quite impressed with the quality of this pad
  • Bought used, needed new inserts but the ones included were usable
  • Used once with Hilason western treeless, the combination slipped to the side (horse was slightly off from SI, so was probably him) and didn’t have good wither clearance (mostly the saddle)
  • Ended up selling this pad also, as with the Toklat above, Jax just didn’t care for it (anything that slips is uncomfortable for him).

My new setup late 2016 – Barefoot Physio Bareback Pad Is One Of The Best Bareback Pads Available!

  • Reason for trying: horse back pain and shoulder pain with treed saddles
  • Barefoot Physio Ride-On bareback pad with Reinsman Trail Tacky Too saddle pad [Update Feb. 2023 – the Edix Courville is by far the best saddle pad for this horse!]
    • Since my horse loves Reinsman pads, why fight it.  I bought the Barefoot Physio pad with inserts so I don’t need a treeless saddle pad.  I also got it with the cushy sheepskin seat for me!
    • I’ve only tested it out on one really good trail ride so far, but his back was pristine with no friction rubs, no pressure points, and it stayed in place better than any saddle I’ve owned!  Also, since I love riding bareback, it’s extremely comfortable.  The front rolls and cantle add an extra bit of security so I can sit out those spooks (only one on this ride but it was a pretty good one).  The area with inserts also adds a small amount of twist, helping with those wider horses (like Jax). [Update Feb. 2023 – I’ve been using this bareback pad for 7 years, and it’s still going strong, and still my horse’s preference for riding!]
    • Since he has been sore in his back, I was leery of our first ride, but it went much better than expected and I think this setup really helped him (see my PSSM posts for more, especially Horse Health 3). [Update Feb. 2023 – even if Jax starts the ride with a sore back, he’s happy to let me on in this setup. After a good ride, I usually pull the pad off and find that he has NO BACK PAIN after exercise with this setup!]
Horse back pain: July 20, 2016 – taken before Jax’ back was 100%, still some lumbar soreness, but he still seemed to like the new setup (just tried on, didn’t get to try it out). 

Update on the Barefoot Physio – it’s early 2021 and I’m still using this as my main saddle! We now use a Weatherbeeta merino lined English pad and I attach my Trekker Luxus panels to the Physio, as the Physio panels are just not beefy enough by themselves on this setup.

I’ve puchased an Edix treeless saddle pad and will be reviewing that pad soon, as well as updating my Trekker Luxus treeless saddle post with a trial of swapping out the panels for the Barefoot panels using the Edix pad!

Edit Feb. 2023: The Edix pad with the Barefoot Physio (with it’s own panels) is the winning combination – I’ve been riding in this setup for about a year now and it’s the happiest my horse’s back has been in years!

See Horse Health 4 for our rehab plan, tack to help sore muscles (including the barefoot bareback pad), and to see how quickly correct hoof balance and stress point work has put Jax back into work!

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