FAQ- Bareback Pads -
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FAQ- Bareback Pads

I’ve compiled a list of the most common questions that I get asked about the bareback pads.

If there is anything you’d like to know that I haven’t addressed here, drop me a message at hello@buckyou.co.uk and I’ll help you out.

I’ve been using these pads exclusively for nearly 3 years now and my horses have great, pain free backs and are always happy for their pads to go on, so I have a lot of answers, but of course, some things boil down to the preference of your horse (and the human too).


What is the difference between a bareback pad and a saddle?

– A traditional saddle has a tree built into it, this is a rigid structure designed to disperse the weight of the rider evenly across a horse’s back.

– A saddle should be checked by a professional saddle fitter at least every 6 months as horses change shape A LOT, and a badly fitting saddle can be at best uncomfortable, at worst, do serious long-term damage.

– A bareback pad doesn’t have a tree or any other rigid structures, so adjusts to the horse’s back as it changes shape. This makes them very handy for horses when gaining or losing weight, or if they are building muscle.

Bareback pads also weigh very little, about 3 kg for a standard sized one compared to about 9kg for an average saddle.


Do the pads have any spinal clearance?

Non-shimmed pads: The older versions of the pads do not have  spinal clearance as they do not come with shims (these can be bought separately to add on to the pads, or can be bough ready-attached)  The seat of the pad is roughly one inch thick made of faux fur and foam. It is comfortable and flexible but does not provide any sort of spinal clearance.
Your weight is distributed along your seat and thighs, the way it would be if you were riding with nothing on your horse, rather than along the area defined by a tree, this is quite a large area if you consider it…
The padding protects your horses back and makes it far comfier, for both horse and human, than riding bareback, but still enables the feel of bareback riding and the heightened awareness of your horse.

Pads with shims or with the shims added: The pads all made after December 2020 have shims added as standard, and you can buy the shims separately to upgrade pads made before then. If you have the add-on shims, they do provide spinal clearance, extra comfort, pressure reduction and stability. 


Can I use stirrups with a bareback pad?

Buckyou bareback pads come with very basic stirrups.
They are not to be used as if on a traditional saddle, as there is nothing supporting the stirrups and if you put a lot of weight in them, that weight would be compressed over a small area.
Absolutely NO mounting from the ground using stirrups – although I say that about ALL saddles anyway!

– My best advice from personal experience with these pads, is that if you NEED stirrups to trot and canter, please don’t have them attached to your pad until you can ride comfortably without them.
Riding in the pad without stirrups will massively improve your core muscles, balance and feel for riding and create a natural self-seat. The pads are very supportive and will keep you feeling safe and secure, so it’s a great way to develop your riding ability.

– If you are a balanced rider and have a pad with shims, I still advise against using the stirrups as you would in a normal saddle, although you can have them attached if you are a light rider and do no rely on the stirrups for constant balance or resting your weight while riding. I have my stirrups a hole too long so I don’t forget and rest my weight in them or rely on them constantly.

These shims improve the protection to your horses back and spine, but they do not make the pad into a saddle, so please remember that when riding.

It is  a good idea for anyone who rides more intensively to also use a pressure pad to really create as much pressure reduction and comfort as possible without sacrificing the lightness and feel provided by your buckyou pad. I now stock several types of gel-eze pad which are very good for use under my BuckYou pads. You can see them in the horseware section of my shop here

Another safety point to recall is the stirrup attachments on these pads are D rings, not E bars, so you may want to consider using safety or breakaway stirrups.

I am very cautious with my advise on stirrups as the last thing I want is for someone to use the stirrups like they would a normal saddle and cause injury or discomfort to their horse. Therefore my advise is super careful. it is safe to lightly use the stirrups when riding in shimmed BuckYou HY.PE pad, but NOT like you would a normal saddle, and NOT for long periods of time.


The add on shims

These shims are designed to be used exclusively with BuckYou standard size bareback pads. They create more pressure reduction and spinal clearance in the pads, creating even more comfort for your horse and making the pads feel even more secure.

The pads come with velcro attached, and with strips of velcro. You simply glue or sew the strips a few inches away from the spine of your pad to allow an area when you can then attach the shims- and move them closer or further apart as needed for different horses, as your horse gains or looses weight, or take them off entirely!

This means that these shims can take the place of the pressure pads which I advise using with bareback pads. You can of course still use a pressure pad- I will as the comfier and more pressure reducing there is, the better!

Please note- I still advise against using the stirrups as you would a normal saddle, but with these shims, there is much more protection against moments of weight in them when spooks or trips occur if you have your stirrups attached to your pad.

I have trialed the shims on Cato and Jango, both are very different shaped horses and I was able to adjust for each with no problems. I found with both, spinal clearance remained after our rides, and both horses were happy and comfy!

Jango is a bit on the round side, and I found the shims really made the pad feel even more secure on my roly-poly pony!

There is a guide on how to add the shims to your older style BuckYou pad here


Can I use the pad as it is or, do I need a saddle blanket or special pad under it?

– If you are using your pad for short and laid-back rides without stirrups, then if you and your horse find the pad comfy as it is, then there is no need to use any additional padding under it.
If you prefer to use a saddle blanket or numnah for personal preference for yourself or your horse, that’s totally fine.
I don’t find it necessary to use a blanket under my pads to keep them clean as they clean off very easily!

If you are riding more intensively or for longer periods of time, I would advise you to invest in a pressure reducing pad of some kind, I stock suitable ones here: 

– I always use a pressure pad under mine because I want to ensure that my horses are as comfortable as they can be.
I experimented with different kinds of pad to find out what they each preferred. I don’t use a numnah as well, as I find that too much bulk under me, and I lose some of the ‘feel’ provided by the pad.

I strongly advise ALWAYS using a pressure pad if you have the stirrups attached, this will provide extra protection for your horse in case a sudden spook or stumble places your weight in the stirrups for a second. The comfort of your horse should always be your priority!


Does the pommel or cantle create pressure on the horse?

The pommel and cantle in the pads are made from foam rubber, they are strong, light and have a bit of give.
As the seat is simple padding and faux fur, there is literally nothing to transmit your weight from your seat to the pommel or cantle.
– You can lift them up while you sit in the pad, and myself and many others note an increase in freedom of shoulder movement for the horse with the switch to a bareback pad.
One of Cato’s big issues was pressure on his withers, and he has never once had any concern with his bareback pad, so Cato Seal of Approval! 


What girth can I use with my pad?

They all come with a basic one-size girth, but you can use any dressage girth with your pad. I also stock different sized girths that are suitable for use with the BuckYou pads.


How do I clean my pad?

As the pads are fully synthetic and vegan, they dry out very quickly if they get wet, and dirt will just brush off very easily.
– If you want to get your pad super clean, a scrub in the shower or tub will do it!

I haven’t done more than brush mine off in the years I’ve owned them, and they are only slightly grubby and show very, very little sign of wear!


What size pad should I get?

The pads don’t measure up like normal saddles.
I suggest that for most people and horses and ponies, a standard size pad will be just right, though you may need a bigger or smaller girth depending on your horse
The standard size pads have been happily used on anything from a rather chunky 10.2 Shetland pony to shire horses!

– I use my standard sizes pads on Jango, who is a short-backed 13.2 pony, and Cato, who is about 15.3ish.

– The mini pads are designed more with smaller riders in mind and for smaller ponies with shorter backs, so section A’s, Shetlands, children and very petite adults

– One thing to remember is, that a pad might look large on a small pony, but as the riders weight is not distributed like in a saddle with a tree, but instead is purely where the rider’s seat is, so as long as the rider is not too large for the pony, no pressure will be transmitted where it shouldn’t be.


Are they suitable for riders with physical issues?

I can’t advise on every individual case, but I can confirm that I have had several customers with issues such as MS, Arthritis, and various mobility issues who have told me that they find the pads more confortable and easier on their joints than normal saddles.- Notably on hips, backs and knees.

They are also considerably lighter and easier to carry and tack up with than normal saddles.

I can also say for myself (and others) that i don’t get lower back pain since using these pads. I know myself and many others would often experience lower back pain after riding in a normal saddle.



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