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If you are competing in ranch horse versatility, proper Western saddle and tack is essential. Keep in mind that your horse will be saddled for an extended period of time therefore, the saddle should fit properly and be comfortable for the animal. If you're unsure, here are a few tips to get you on the right track:
As far as saddle pads and cinches are concerned, go with natural fibers (mohair, wool, etc.) that will readily absorb sweat and keep your animal comfortable. It's smart to avoid neoprene-type saddle pads and cinches because they retain so much heat—if your horse is saddled for an extended period of time he could become hot and sore.
A saddle with fit the form of the horse better, and provide additional comfort for the animal, with a good saddle pad. A pad will not, however, make a poor-fitting saddle fit right. You should not buy a saddle that does not fit properly on your horse in the hopes that you will be able to make it fit correctly with a saddle pad.
*It's smart to select a real wool or felt pad as synthetic wools can slip and generally aren't as durable as natural wool.