Manufacturer: Innovative Handmade Horse Tack
Model: Little Joe Bareback Pad
Category: Western Saddle Fittings/Pads
Purchase: I purchased the Little Joe pad from the website better-horsetack.com. Including shipping, the pad was about $250, and it came with a free saddle pad. I'd been looking for a good bareback pad with a grippy seat, and heard good things about the Little Joe pad. There were a ton of cool colors to choose from, but I went with black.
Likes: I really like this bareback pad. It has just the right amount of cushion, not too soft, but not too thin either. You can still feel the horse's back, but there's a nice amount of padding for your butt. I don't know how well it would work on a shark-fin back, though. The suede seat is very grippy, and the pad itself is secure. You do not slide around, and the pad stays put on your horse's back. Going up and down hills it stayed in place, even without a breast collar. It has two billets for a dressage girth instead of the usual single strip of nylon webbing many other pads have. There's a lot of D-rings for attaching a breast collar, crupper, and gear. I don't use stirrups with the pad, but I like the idea that I could do so in the future if I wish. I can't feel the large stirrup D-rings at all when I ride. They don't get in the way if you choose not to use them. The saddle pad the Little Joe came with is easy to wash, has no seam down the spine, and has a couple of gussets to fit the horse's back. And it's super soft and snugly to boot!
Dislikes: The billets are very light colored leather (which really contrasts with my black pad) and rather stiff. I can feel them under my leg when I ride, though they don't rub, they just annoy me a bit. Hopefully with use and oiling they will soften up. The pad, though very flexible, is not contoured to the horse's back. I tried using a thicker saddle pad underneath to add a little extra cushion, but that created a crease in the Little Joe pad right under my seat that was very uncomfortable. I'll be riding with the nice, thin pad it came with from now on. Since the pad is essentially an unstructured treeless saddle, there's nothing to distribute the weight of the stirrups except the little strip of nylon they're attached to. I'd be careful using stirrups on the pad for this reason. Also, the Little Joe pad itself is not washable, so it needs to be used with a saddle pad.
Quality: Both the Little Joe pad and the saddle pad are very well made. They are handmade to order, so if you'd like something custom, just ask for it. The materials are high quality, and the stitching is even. For a small fee, you can send the pad in to have the billets replaced and the pad taken apart and cleaned. The saddle pad looks like something you'd buy from a tack store, not scraps of cloth cobbled together on a home sewing machine. It's very well sewn, the seams are straight and even, and the material (fleece on bottom, cotton on top) is nice.
Summary: The Little Joe is an excellent bareback pad. If you're interested in spending the money on a really nice bareback pad, it's totally worth it. I really enjoy riding in mine, and I consider it an great purchase.
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
4 reader(s) voted.
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