product review

Product Review: Toklat Coolback Bareback Pad

Toklat Coolback Bareback Pad
$74.95 at Smartpak

I posted, oh, a very long time ago now about riding Tristan occasionally in a bareback pad, and thinking about finding my own. I liked the idea, and did some cursory research, and then lost interest as other things took financial precedence.

Then my friend C. posted on Facebook that she was doing some cleaning out of horse supplies in preparation for moving, and did anyone want a bareback pad? I jumped at the chance. She mailed it up, and both the puppy and the cat approved immediately.

Last week, I finally got the chance to use it at the barn.

First impressions: it’s a pretty straightforward thing. You toss it on and girth it up. The barn manager immediately commented on how soft it looked, and liked that it came with its own padded girth. Said girth is really straightforward. It’s also really small: any horse in cob or pony range would absolutely have to punch quite a few extra holes. Tristan wears a cob size in surcingle and is on the small side of the horse range for girths.

The fleece is not exactly natural fleece – it’s pretty clearly synthetic. It’s not terribly bad synthetic, though, and the pile really is quite dense and thick. It feels softer and more durable than synthetic fleece usually does.

I was a little concerned at how little wither clearance there seemed to be – wither rubbing was why I didn’t use the barn’s bareback pad as much as I would’ve wanted. I figured, though, that the fleece was thick enough and the whole thing was flexible enough that I might as well ride in it and see how it went.

When I mounted up, I immediately felt comfortable and cushioned. Tris does not have a terribly uncomfortable back to sit on bareback, but wow, this was COZY. Is this why endurance riders put that fleece on their saddles? Drool.

I have no idea why the pad is labeled “Coolback” but can report that it warmed up nicely with movement. I rode for about 35 minutes walk and a bit of trot, and it never felt less cozy. Warmth from his back gradually came up to my legs, which is honestly my #1 reason for riding bareback in the winter. I had been worried that the pad would obscure that – the other one I used did. I actually think it was transferring the heat from his back up through to me. Win-win. I’m curious how it would feel in the summer, though.

The fleece was surprisingly grippy, and plush. One complaint might be that my leg naturally fell at the girth, because of the way it pushed down the fleece when cinched tight. That tended to encourage a bit of a chair seat in me – but then again, bareback does that generally anyway, so not the end of the world. Another problem is that the oh shit strap on the front was kind of useless…it was so close to my crotch it wasn’t exactly an intuitive place to grab. I’d really have to be sliding off to reach for it naturally.

At the end of the ride, I was pleased to see that the pad hadn’t moved too much at all. The fleece on the girth served to help keep it in place. It slipped back a little bit but it wasn’t exactly a problem – not like slipping back would be on a saddle, for sure! It hadn’t rubbed his withers at all.

In short: I really like it. It was quick and convenient, and more grippy and comfortable than bareback. I didn’t feel any true loss of feeling through my seat, like I was worried about. Nothing like a saddle. I’ll definitely be using it more and more!

3 thoughts on “Product Review: Toklat Coolback Bareback Pad

  1. Yup, that is exactly why we put fleece covers on our saddles! 😉

    Coolback is basically the synthetic (and more affordable + colorful) version of Toklat's highly coveted Woolback products. Woolback is made from natural wool and has the same cushioning and cooling properties (it traps air among the fibers) as sheepskin while being easier to take care of. Woolback girths and saddle pads are very, very popular among the endurance crowd. I have a Woolback girth and my Woolback Matrix saddle pad. Coolback is touted as being exactly the same, except it is a synthetic version that is even easier to take care of (can be thrown in washer and dryer.)

    Description of Coolback from the Toklat website:
    “Coolback pads are made from a pile fabric with a dense concentration of resilient polyester fiber that are closely shorn to provide maximum cushion with minimal matting or slipping. Being machine washable and dryer safe makes caring for your Coolback pad easy and actually improves it's orthopedic function.”

    I had wondered about these bareback pads specifically, so it was great to read your review! 😀

    Like

  2. that looks super cozy!! i like the padding on the girth too, since i'm like 80% sure the non-padded girth on my bareback pad gave my mare massive welts… oops

    Like

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