Product Review – The VIP Pad

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The VIP Pad in Gold

The VIP Pad was one of those products I had heard a lot of good reviews about but was still cautious about purchasing simply due to the price tag. At £130 the Very Important Pad isn’t cheap so it was an investment. The appeal of the pad for me is very simple – while the other horses I ride wear a sheepskin half pad between their saddle and saddle pad – Sammy cant. Sammy has very wide shoulders and is more narrow through his barrel so my half pad causes the back of the saddle to pivot which is really not a good idea when you are jumping! In my first lesson with Sarah Ennis she told me to take it right off and she was dead right we are more secure without it!

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The pad is very thin and will not affect saddle fit – you can see here its much slimmer than the thickness of a horseshoe 

When I got my dressage saddle Paul Morgan from PM Equestrian fitted both for me and advised no half pad. Now while I love my saddles, I also love my horse to have some shock absorption simply because like most amateur riders I can be unbalanced from time to time and I don’t want his back to bear the brunt of it on the way off a bank XC or when we have to improvise SJ. I like to have an extra layer of protection between me and the horse. As I have short legs and a wide horse using a thick saddle pad is just not an option for me – poly pad type pads are not my friend as they do the opposite of what I need and put my legs further away from the horse.  So the appeal of the VIP for me was the fact that it is so thin that it doesn’t affect saddle fit at all but it is effective at providing shock absorption dispersed across the area.

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VIP pad fitted with dressage saddle – its pretty inconspicuous – I bought gold as I have one brow and one black saddle but my friend has all black saddles and bought black and it blends in perfectly

So, did it work? The pad comes in black, blue and gold currently with other colours planned for the future. I went for gold as I have one brown saddle and one black and it blends in to most colours of saddle pad. Now, I have seen some reviews of this pad that talk about cadence and self-carriage and I am not going to do that because lets be honest I didn’t have that beforehand and I don’t have it now – this is a pad not a Vallegro generator. What I do have is a much happier horse. My main issue with Sammy on the flat is his old habits from his former career in the riding school – mainly pulling on to the forehand, getting heavy on the hand and an anxiety about change of balance and the riders weight in the saddle. When we do sitting trot he can get tense and hollow and in canter he can take a while to get through and can feel disconnected– I used to think it was just in my head or was my riding until Sorrell my coach sat up and felt the same – a sort of emptiness directly under the saddle at first in canter before he connects. We think it relates to his older saddle which didn’t fit him as well.

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The pad on top of a saddle pad – again you can see how slim it is 

Since using the VIP pad Sammy is much more accepting about sitting trot. I did some fantastic sessions with Rodrigo Matos last year and re reiterated to me a few times “dressage = sitting trot” and he is right as I have much more control of what is going on when I sit. With the VIP pad the tension and hollowness has greatly reduced and its interesting as I used to believe it originated in his jaw / poll and surfaced in a tense neck but now I realise more and more it was originating from his back but triggered by anxiety. I wont tell you we are doing stellar dressage moves but we are managing shoulder in, travers and a primitive half pass without tension which is a lovely for both of us. In canter he is through quicker and doesn’t feel disconnected at the start – the emptiness under saddle is gone which is fantastic. I can also move him around a lot more without upsetting the apple cart. In jumping, while I didn’t buy this pad with any expectation of it preventing the saddle from moving – I honestly do think it helps keep my saddle in place which is always a bonus! In jumping simply put my horse feels happier and I feel happier as I feel he is as comfortable as I can make him.

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Fitted with a jumping saddle and looking nice and matching with this black and cream saddle pad
A friend borrowed the pad a few weeks ago and it was an interesting experiment. She came back with similar observations to mine – horse seemed happier and more comfortable in his work. She borrowed it again and then bought her own! So in summary while this pad may seem pricey at €160 I use the French ‘price per wear’ method when calculating the value of things – I use this every day and feel the benefit of it so the cost has been well worth it. I have no connection to this company, received nothing in return for this review – I simply bought the pad out of my own money and am delighted to review it in case others are on the fence about it and might find the review beneficial.  The VIP pad can be purcased from – https://www.vip-equestrian.com/shop

 

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