I've been using the same saddle pad for about five years now for schooling, and it has held up remarkably well. I would have happily used that thing until it started to unravel, but unfortunately the thick layer of fleece wool on the underside was aiding in my saddle slipping forward on Clay during our rides–a problem I'd hoped to fix with the purchase of a new custom saddle fitted specifically to Clay. But even with the new saddle, the problem persisted.
The saddle fitter explained that the thick pad props the saddle up and away from Clay's back rather than letting it sit into him. So, sadly, I had to retire my trusty old pad and purchase a new one for schooling that is thinner and will allow for a close fit between horse and saddle.
Luckily, I am loving the new one! It has some cool design features that are unique and thoughtful:
1. Extra wide spine that mimics the horse's vertebrae, for better clearance and airflow over the horse's back. I've never seen a pad with this wide of a spine before, and it's kind of a genius feature. Would especially be great for wide-backed horses but even on Clay I can now look through the saddle and see daylight on the other side because the pad sort of tee-pees over his spine. Theoretically this should encourage his back to come up while he works, rather than having to work against a tightly fitted pad (just like how human athletes prefer to workout in minimal, comfortable clothing...same concept.)
2. Extra wide girth-keeper
3. Advertised as having "pressure mapping technology" to relieve pressure points through the back. I do feel like Clay has been more "through" and relaxed in his back lately...Our stretchy trot and canter have been awesome lately.
4. If you have d-rings on your saddle, you can attach the small tabs on the pad to them to keep the pad from falling down in front. The pad also has a nice ergonomic shape to it with room for the withers.
5. Unique look with "cut out" in back that helps keep horse cool
6. Most importantly, keeps my saddle in place much better than my previous pad
1. There is a thin layer of fleece on the under-side, which doesn't show in the product photos online and isn't in the description (maybe this is what they're calling "pressure mapping technology"...to me it just looks like normal fleece.) I was initially disappointed when the pad arrived and I saw this, because I wanted a close fit between saddle and horse. But so far it does not seem to make the saddle to sit up off Clay's back, so it's not a huge issue.
I have only been using it for a couple months so I can't speak to the longevity of this pad or tell you how well/easily it washes up, but so far I am happy with my purchase and think the value for the price is definitely there. Coronet also makes cross-country and jumping versions with the same spine-free design, in regular and wide-back options.