Back before our first 50 mile ride at the Barefoot Wine and Shine in TN October 2014, I needed a new pad. I know I did a review about it at some point, but I can't find it in my logs, so a brief description is required.
The pad is an endurance shaped full sheepskin pad made by Thin Line. It has the Thin Line shock absorbing material under the seat (sorry, no good picture) and has the ability to add shims in three different areas: the front for wither clearance, the middle for bridging and the rear for well to raise the rear I suppose. It fits the length of my saddle very well and is very plush.
It has been my sole pad since then completing 200 competition miles in endurance, probably 400 conditioning miles and then the hunter paces as well. I guesstimate somewhere between 600-800 total riding miles on it in those two years. I have washed the pad three times by hand in the bath tub under cool water and either without any soap or with the stuff ThinLine recommends and sends a sample with the pad.
I love the pad. It fits Gem really well, has helped us achieve all As in back score at every ride, keeps her back cool even in our horrendous heat and high humidity and has remained just as plush as the day I got it. It cleans easily although dry time is really long and comes back to life with a wire dog brush.
It is expensive though at $350 without the shims. At that price point I expect to get many years and many more miles out of the pad.
On Friday's ride, I tacked Gemmie up in her endurance gear for only the second time since May and saw this:
The tough outer cotton fabric had begun to wear in this region pretty quickly. I am nearly 90% certain it started with a small amount of fraying after the first 50 which was only about a month and probably 100 miles total into using it. At the time I wasn't using fleece stirrup covers and since I don't use fenders, I figured it was due to the leathers.
|Rub lies directly under the stirrup leather|
All miles since last February have had the leathers covered and yet the fraying has continued.
On Friday I took a closer look and saw that it had actually rubbed all the way through the cotton and the wool was now showing through.
|Hello Mr. Wool|
I took the pictures and shot ThinLine a message on Facebook Saturday explaining the amount of use I had on the pad and asking if this was the expected life span of their pads and any recommendations they may have for fixing it.
They responded back on Monday morning and while I am not 100% satisfied with their response, I am pretty ok with it.
Basically they said that they are not up to speed with the requirements that saddles put on the pad with endurance. They are not educated enough of the rigging that a lot of endurance saddles use and they believe that the cotton they use is of high enough durability. They recommended sending me a piece of their ThinLine material to place on my stirrup leathers and were quick to send it out that same day.
I haven't received it yet, but I do know I won't be attaching it to my stirrup leathers. I have no clue what size of piece or how many pieces they sent. I would hope to get at least two so I can fix it on both sides. I am going to play around with it and see if there is a way to attach it to the pad overlying this region. As long as I can do it without the stitches becoming a source of irritation on Gem's sides it should do the trick.
Otherwise, I will be back to the drawing board as far as saddle pads go. I have a brand new one of these that Dusty got me for the 100 and which we completely forgot to use. I got about 2 years out of this one, so using this one for conditioning and the new one for competition should give me a long time before needing to replace. I have no clue what I would switch to though, so I am really hoping I can fix this.