First, I will make the following disclaimer: I am officially a saddle pad snob.
In a previous life, I thought of saddle pads as the required bit of cloth between the saddle and my horse, a layer of protective cotton that served little other purpose but decoration.
Oh my, how that’s changed.
It started with an Ogilvy pad I won through a contest Amanda hosted, and then I started eyeballing the beautiful shaped pads that are becoming au couture in the eventing world. I struggled with pads bunching up behind my leg, or sliding back so far as to need re-adjusting at inopportune times. Even the beloved custom Ogilvy pad could occasionally be victim to my sticky-sprayed-to-hell leg, pulling and bunching as I spent more time in the tack.
So giving the LeMieux X-grip a try was a no-brainer. For one, the LeMieux brand has a reputation for quality products. Two, it’s got a subtle shape to it that hints at the trendy XC pads while remaining true to a more traditional look. And three, well- the grip- more about that soon.
Upon first inspection, it’s clear that this LeMieux pad was constructed with functionality in mind. Nothing about this pad is floppy – even the main body of the pad (where the quilted squares are) is reinforced with a bamboo lining that is slip resistant, and supposedly moisture wicking, though in the interest of full disclosure- I have yet to try it out in hot or long rides where that is necessary.
Along the spine of the pad, where the panels of the saddle sit, the pad has an extra layer of memory foam that is covered in a silicone design. Not only does this give me extra confidence that, despite my heavy amateur bottom hitting the saddle occasionally, this pad gives my sensitive Sally a better ride than a pad without this feature- and the silicone covering is yet another failsafe for slippage. Because when we put horse clothes on, we expect them to stay there. #canigetanamen
The other clever feature of the design (though probably obvious to others who have invested in good quality pads before) is the additional canvas material at the girth area. On all of my schooling pads, this is inevitably the first place to start showing major signs of wear. Pilling, rubbing, loose stitches, you name it. But the canvas on this section of the pad feels ready to go to battle, and I feel confident that it will hold up exponentially better than my cheaper pads at home. Even the girth strap feels like good quality, and though I don’t use it, I like that there’s the option underneath for putting individual billets through 3 loops (not shown in picture).
While a bit pricey compared to your average pad, this LeMieux pad seems absolutely worth the investment. It holds up to the test of my iron-grip calves (particularly when stressed at a show and trying to stop a certain giant yellow/yeller pony from pinging off the fences) and is a great example of form-follows-function design.
The construction is made to last, and it was obviously crafted with both comfort of horse, and elegance of show decor, in mind. Because while heavily branded at first glance, when in use none of the carefully placed logos detract from a classy overall picture.
In conclusion, this pad has made me re-think what I put on my horse’s back. While I have always been a legit saddle-pad addict, I can’t see myself using anything else where it really counts. In the competitive showjumping ring, that means this pad will be seeing a lot of action, and based on my experience and opinions so far, I think it will be up to the job for years to come. LeMieux hit it out of the park with this ultra-grippy pad, and I invariably give it an A+ for all the reasons above.