View Full Version : Function of a saddle blanket?

11-21-2010, 07:14 AM
Please forgive the ignorance of this question (not a horse person!).

What exactly do they do aside from keeping your horse from getting sores? Do they help hold the saddle in place?

My real question is, if you saddled up a creature with a carapace would you need a saddle blanket?

11-21-2010, 07:20 AM
Saddle blankets are mostly for the comfort of the horse (padding) and also a bit to protect the saddle (from sweat, etc.)

I don't think that either of these would be important over a shell, but you might want something to keep the saddle from slipping?

11-21-2010, 07:37 AM
The slipping is what I was worried about. Do you think a thick wool "saddle pad" would work?

11-21-2010, 01:22 PM
I'm talking out of place here, because I'm certainly no expert. But here it goes.

The carapace might have handy groves or ridges that might be utilised. Look at close-ups of insects. They're never completely smooth all over. They also tend to be protruding around the edges. A saddle might be held in place by hooks around the edges that are pulled tight? Some parts of the carapace might be void of nerve endings and can therefore be used to bolt hooks and such into. I'm thinking of stuff like horseshoes.

There will be different approaches if you're thinking turtle-type creature or insect.

11-21-2010, 01:45 PM
In Cavalry terms - well, British Cavalry, they are called Shabraques and are used not just for the horses' comfort but as an additional means of identifying a regiment. Not sure if they still are used as a means of ID - they were in the past... sorry starting to ramble...

11-21-2010, 05:18 PM
For slipping, I think I'd go with something more like rubber. I think of a wool carpet on a hardwood floor, and they often have those little sticky strips attached to prevent sliding. The wool might protect the shell from scratching, etc., which I guess could be important if the saddle is worn often and the shell is relatively thin, but I don't think it would do much to prevent sliding.

What's the shape of your shell? Is there a central ridge? A properly shaped saddle might not slip side to side, over a ridge, and there are horse attachments that help to stabilize a saddle from back/front movement on horses whose anatomy doesn't fit properly. You could rig some sort of breastplate (a strap that goes around the horse's chest, then back to the saddle to prevent it slipping backwards) or crupper strap (goes from the back of the saddle to around the horse's tail to keep the saddle from slipping forwards), maybe.

11-21-2010, 06:14 PM
My guess is you would need a blanket underneath it. When you use a pack saddle, most people use a blanket. Anything coming in contact with a horse has to not chafe and cause sores, whether it is the saddle, the bridle, the girth, or whatever. The longer the horse is used and the harder the horse is used, the more important this becomes. Riding for an hour and riding all day are vastly different for the tack. Think about it like a pair of bad shoes. You can survive them for an hour, but all day?

How much protection you need for the horse depends on the shape of the horse, toughness of skin (horses don't have very tough skins, but each horse is an individual), material used in the tack, and type of usage (mountain climbing where you repeatedly change the slope is the hardest to deal with). Some horses will survive a leather girth for all day use, while others will chafe with the same girth. The harder the material obviously the more protection you need.

Slippage is a very minor function of the saddle blanket. A good saddle will stay in position whether you have a blanket under it or not, and should distribute the contact the same as the blanket. Saddle blankets vary in thickness and protection depending upon the horse's and rider's needs. Absorbing sweat is a minor side benefit to the human, but doesn't make much different to the horse. (Dried sweat in the blanket will cause the blanket to be stiff, which does make a difference to the horse.)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

11-21-2010, 06:41 PM
The basic function of a saddle pad is to protect the horse from the saddle and protect the saddle from the horse. Horses have skins, not shells. A creature with a shell would not likely need a pad under the saddle, but how are you going to find a saddle that fits? Saddles are designed to be used on a roundish critter with a spine up the middle. Saddles are built on a tree, and the tree is what keeps the saddle from slipping side to side and prevents pressure on the spine. There are things like bareback pads, but they tend to slip. Is your critter with the shell a regular saddle wearer or is this a spur of the moment thing? Can you drill holes in the shell to attach the saddle without hurting the creature? If not, you could try those rubber mats with holes that are meant to line your silverware drawers. Lots of folks use those under saddles on horses to help prevent slipping, along with a breastplate. Pack animals will wear both a breastplate and a breeching for front to back slipping.

11-21-2010, 07:41 PM
FYI, there are treeless saddles (The pommel and cantel provide minimal frame-support), and while most cheap bareback pads are guaranteed to slip, I've got a nice one that's never slipped more than a little and I've jumped and galloped in it (and been taken off with while using it, bucking, spinning, you name it).

Treeless saddles are often used with minimum padding. The one I have is a big flap of suede over wool (possibly synthetic wool) basically.

11-22-2010, 03:40 AM
Super Glue!

11-22-2010, 10:44 AM
Ha ha Stephanie. :tongue

Thanks for all of the information and ideas everyone. The creature has long legs and is the size of a welsh pony or small horse (maybe 12-14 hands?) Its carapace runs in plates starting at the head and down to the end of the tail. They're separate and overlap like a chiton's shell so the animal can be more flexible. It does have a ridge down the spine, so that should help. The saddle is going to sit across the shoulders, since that's where the largest thickest plate is and is the strongest point on its back.

I really like the idea of using clips. That would work pretty well. And then the breastplate harness thing would be a good safeguard in case one or more clips failed. Unfortunately the people in this story don't have access to rubber, but it's a good idea.

I did some research on the punching holes in the carapace thing, because that was intriguing. Apparently people used to do that with turtles so they could be tethered, and also to attach radio trackers. What I also found is people had problems with the hole being worn too large, sometimes all the way through the edge of the shell. They also tried lining it with a metal grommet but the grommet would wear loose in the hole then fall out. I imagine attaching a saddle to a hole would wear it out pretty quickly.

That's really spiffy about the saddle blankets being used to identify a regiment. Since this story has a lot of military in it, that would be a good way to differentiate them.

And thank you so much Jim for all that information! I'm so ignorant with horses, that totally helped make me smarter in general.

11-22-2010, 02:04 PM
A well made and correctly fitting saddle shouldn't rub or slip.

The pad or cloth can serve several purposes - anti slip, extra padding (usually when a horse is changing shape over seasons etc - should not be used to make a badly fitting saddle fit) to absorb sweat - but this has the problem that the cloth will get wet and then will chafe more - try running in wet jeans and see what I mean.

11-22-2010, 10:40 PM
I don't know anything about saddles or horses (Like the taste though. Well, of horse, never tried saddle) but if the carapace of the animal is somewhat smooth, a wool blanket should provide much less grip than just leather. If you've got some leather and wool (or cotton) at hand just try it on a window. On a smooth surface, soft leather has a pretty good grip, while textiles don't. So, if you want saddle blankets, making them out of soft leather for the turtles would be reasonable.

11-24-2010, 02:03 AM
It seems to me that a saddle for a lobster-like critter would have to be designed on slightly different principles.

With a horse's saddle, the whole point of having a tree is mostly so that the weight of the rider doesn't press down directly on the horse's spine. If the animal already has a carapace, the frame becomes redundant, unless you want the seat to have a pommel or a high bow and cantle like a medieval war saddle.

The concern with a carapace saddle would be to make sure it doesn't interfere with the places where the plates slide over one another; otherwise it would impede the critter's range of motion. You may also have to protect the rider's legs from being pinched between moving plates. Depending on how much flexibility the animal has, the breastplate and crupper could also get too loose when it arches its back.

11-25-2010, 04:54 PM
I could add that the more stuff (pad, saddle, anything) between you and the creature you're riding, the higher your center of balance from the animal's back. This makes it slightly harder to stay on, thus the stirrups pommel and cantle to compensate (or knee rolls even).

It's also slightly easier to feel every little muscle twitch when there's less padding, thus making it easier to anticipate what your mount will do (carapaces would complicate this though). A good rider can ride bareback or with a saddle equally. A damn good rider can pull off his girth and canter around in perfect balance without a problem.

11-28-2010, 07:48 PM
At the track we used to use a leather chamois under the tack to help prevent it from slipping. If you want an alternative to rubber (well...I believe now people use neoprene) that might be the way to go. We'd soak it, wring it out, and lay it over the withers. In certain situations you'll also see the use of an overgirth (always used with racing saddles, but also used in different contexts) which also helps keep everything where it should be. ;)