Horse riders have a variety of choices available of saddles and accompanying accessories to help make the ride enjoyable and comfortable, be it a trot or a endurance racing event.
Comfort when horse riding is of keys consideration for both horse and rider. A comfortable saddle is very important and comfort is enhanced by a high quality which fits beneath the saddle known as a “numnah”. Numnahs are usually lined with lambs or merino wool, and lie directly beneath the saddle to protect it and keep it from dirt and debris. It also protects the horses’ back from sweat and friction, preventing pressure sores and working as a shock absorber for the horse rider.
The word “numnah” is commonly used in U.K. and European equestrian circles, and describes a saddle pad with specific features.
Difference Between a Numnah, Saddle Pad, and Saddle Cloth
- A numnah is saddle shaped, which is the primary difference between a saddle cloth/pad and blanket.
- A numnah is visible around the edge of a saddle.
- Numnahs are made of natural or synthetic wool, and cover the beneath a horse.
- Numnahs are best suited to horses with high withers (“withers” refer to the ridge between the shoulder blades of the horse).
A saddle pad is either square or rectangular in shape and usually made of foam. Gel may also be used for durability.
Saddle pads are used to enable a good fit and balance the saddle. They create a protective cushion between the horse, the saddle, and the rider.
A saddle cloth, is a much thinner square of material which is folded in half to be placed beneath the saddle pad or a numnah. The cloth prevents hair and dirt from collecting onto the pad or numnah. Using a saddle cloth is a matter of preference, but they are easily washed and can protect a numnah.
Using a saddle pad or numnah is entirely a choice about personal style and preference, as is the choice between a half or full numnah.
For frequent horse riders, the need for a good quality and well fitting numnah is essential. Whether for hacking, dressage, hunting or events, a numnah will make the ride more enjoyable for both horse and rider.
Varieties of Numnahs and Brands
Many brands manufacture equestrian equipment and numnahs, and it is well worth researching some of the key brands along with reviews of their products when making a choice. Look out for reader reviews, forums in which riders discuss the benefits or disadvantages of certain makes and models, and read around a purchase to make an informed choice.
- There are different numnahs available and will depend on needs, budget and personal preferences.
- Numnahs are available as full or half pads.
- Specific designs are also available for dressage and shows.
- Numnahs can be lined with either synthetic fleece or natural fibres such as Merino lambskin or sheep’s wool.
- There are benefits and pros and cons for each choice and it will depends on personal requirements.
Natural Wool Numnahs
Natural wool numnahs are very good at naturally regulating the horse’s temperature, and are extremely durable. Wool is more expensive to produce than synthetic fleece, so a merino wool numnah will tend to be at a higher price point. This is balanced out by the long life span of the product and the benefits of using real wool.
The Advantages of a Wool Lined Numnah:
- Wool regulates body temperature when worn against the skin, and provides warmth without allowing the horse to overheat.
- Wool wicks moisture and sweat away from the skin to prevent sweat from cooling on a horse.
- Wool is moisture repellent.
- Wool absorbs water up to 1/3 its weight which helps to avoid hypothermia after strenuous rides.
- Wools contains lanolin, which has antibacterial properties.
Caring for a Woollen Numnah
A woollen numnah requires some time and care to ensure a long life and endurance of use.
Washing products to use
Specialist numnah care products are available, or choose a washing solution that is recommended for use with wool such as castille soap or wool formulated liquids. Alternatively, conventional washing detergent may be used but must be non-biological to prevent enzyme breakdown of the wool.
Brush off surplus hair and dirt before washing and do not use detergent directly on the numnah. Spreading the wool with human hair conditioner prior to a wash can prevent the fibres from damage during the washing cycle
Washing a Woollen Numnah
A merino wool numnah can be machine washed at a low temperature setting of 30 degrees in order to prevent damage to the natural fibres. Care should be taken during the washing process to not overheat or over agitate the wool in case it should start to felt and lose the natural absorbent properties of wool
The numnah should be re-shaped while damp and ideally allowed to dry naturally. Alternatively, a hair dryer may be used on a low setting, to speed up the drying process.
Numnahs are also available which are made with synthetic, or “fake” wool.
- Synthetic wool numnahs have a lower price point that natural wool numnahs
- They are able to withstand less careful washing and care.
- The quality of the material is not as premium as quality natural wool, and the pad will not have a lifespan as long as natural wool numnahs.
Correct Fitting and Size
If a great deal of leisure time is spent on horseback, the emphasis on a good quality, well fitting numnah is essential. Whether the chosen activity is hacking, dressage, eventing, hunting, endurance or racing, a numnah will make all the difference to the riding experience. Fitting a numnah correctly is very important to ensure comfort for both the rider and, of course, the horse.
- Be sure that the numnah fits the saddle it will be beneath; it should be the right shape for the saddle flap, and should match the saddle size.
- Check the thickness of the numnah, as extra thickness may impede a good fit.
- Check that the numnah conforms to the guidelines and specifications for the discipline and any events the rider and horse may be competing in.
New or Second Hand
Depending on budget, eBay has a wide variety of sellers and thousands of numnahs available offering a wide range of choice of both brand new and pre-used numnahs. If a natural wool numnah is preferred but is out of price range as a brand new item, as wool has a long life span a pre-used numnah can be a viable option if it has been well cared for.
When Buying a Used Numnah:
- Check the photos of the item carefully
- Feel free to ask the seller questions if further information or clarification is needed.
- Check for any areas of damaged fabric, or if the numnah has become misshapen; this may affect the fit of the pad under the saddle and impair the benefits of riding with a numnah.
- A seller may choose to sell their numnah for a range of reasons; often changing their saddle means the numnah no longer fits correctly, and it is often possible to bid on numnahs that are in very good condition but are used and available at a reduced cost from a new product.
How to Buy a Numnah on eBay
eBay has a huge range of sellers offering thousands of equestrian products which makes it easy and simple to shop for a required item whilst benefitting from the flexible payment options available by buying on eBay.
- To search for numnahs, type in specific search terms into the search box provided on every page.
- Type in specific searches such as “half numnah”, “woollen numnah”, or a particular brand name required, and available listings that match the criteria will appear.
- Check reviews of sellers and their activity when considering a bid, and check reviews of the product where possible by other horse owners to get a balanced viewpoint of a particular product.
Numnahs are pads lined with either synthetic or natural wool which are designed to fit under the saddle when riding a horse. Wool has many benefits for both rider and horse in terms of reducing moisture and increasing comfort, and a numnah can greatly increase comfort for horse and rider when used correctly. Both synthetic and natural wool numnahs have their pros and cons which need to be considered when making a product choice.
- A numnah needs to be the right size to fit the saddle, and can either be a full or half numnah depending on personal preference.
- Budget may dictate whether a pre-worn or brand new numnah is preferable.
- Caution must be taken when checking the quality and condition of a used item from sellers.
eBay has a wide range of Numnahs available for sale in the marketplace which are competitively priced and come with a safe payment option and feedback facility for safety of mind when making a selection.