Toklat Woolback

Wool pile blanket, usually shaped to fit the saddle. I bought my used for a reasonable price and have used it as a conditioning pad and during actual endurance rides under a number of different saddles. Toklat makes a similar synthetic pad called a "coolback", but I have not used it. These pads have several options including foam inserts and a wither relief shape. In this review refer to only the regular profile pad with no inserts. Mine is the dressage shaped Woolback.
Wool pile blanket, usually shaped to fit the saddle. I bought my used for a reasonable price and have used it as a conditioning pad and during actual endurance rides under a number of different saddles. Toklat makes a similar synthetic pad called a "coolback", but I have not used it. These pads have several options including foam inserts and a wither relief shape. In this review refer to only the regular profile pad with no inserts. Mine is the dressage shaped Woolback.

1. What I Love: Pad seems very durable. I got it used and have used it for over a year with hard riding and the condition has not changed. I like the thought of using 100% wool next to the horse. I have a standard dressage shape (probably oversize) and it's fit most saddles I've put on it. Because of the thickness I felt that it gave moderate protection to the horses back.

2. What's Annoying: The pad is fairly thick and I feel it can distort the saddle fit. That being said, I did not actually experience an issue. The pad is fairly bulky and can get very heavy with sweat. If you have a wide horse, with a wide twist saddle, the extra bulk under the leg is not ideal for close contact. My legs are short and my heels BARELY come down under the edge of the pad. I had to really work to get my leg on the horse. I did have trouble with this pad sliding back with some saddles - namely the synthetic Thorowgood. It would slide ALL the way against the keepers, which would put the saddle right on the edge of the pad. This couldn't be fixed by making the keepers tighter.

3. What I HATE: Unsaddling at out checks was a BEAR. Since the pad is fuzzy all around - top and bottom - it was difficult/impossible to keep dirt and debris off of it, unless there was a fence handy, or I remembered to throw a tarp in my crew bag. Anything that did get on it couldn't be brushed off. It was a PAIN in the A$$ to wash. I think most people use slicker brushes to maintain the pads between washings and only wash occasionally. I didn't find that the slicker brushes did a whole lot, and I didn't wash it very often because there was no good way. I tried hosing it off and putting it in a tub. The bottom line was that it never got really clean and it took 3-4 days to dry. At colder multi day rides that don't have very very dry air, don't expect your pad dry out over night. The not washing pads very often might be OK for people with cleaner horses, but most of the time, mine get a cursory grooming only which makes for dirty saddle blankets.

Conclusion Scoring:

The blankets will be scored in the following categories:
Saddle fit: Preserves the integrity of the saddle fit with no distortion
Washability: Easy to wash and dry. Holds up during multiple washings
Ease of Use: Do you need special folding skills? Does it have to be place JUST so? Or can you slap it on and go?
Longevity: Does it wear like iron?
Stays in place: Does it have a tendency to migrate?
Versatility: Can function as a blanket, cooler etc. , fit's more than one saddle type.
Protection: I don't have any scientific data for this one at all. This is truly just an opinion at how well the blanket will reduce impact to the horses back, protect it from the saddle, etc.
Value: Cost versus durability, ease of use, and quality.

Woolback:
Preserves integrity of saddle fit: C
Washability: D
Easy of Use: B (have to plan ahead during multidays for a dry blanket)
Longevity: A
Stays in place under saddle: B
Versatility: B (fit's most english type saddles I've tried on it, including a 1904 McClellan)
Protection: A
Value: B - Mine has worn like iron and I would pick up another one for a used price ($100 or less). However, I’ve looked at the new ones and the quality seems to be lesser than mine. They seem to be thinner and not as “tough”. I’m not sure I would pay new prices and will probably continue to try and pick these up used.