Updated: Jan 15
I'm excited to share the results of our Total Contact Saddle impression pad testing!
The facts... - The TCS - rider is myself (approximately 5'2 and 140 lbs) - Walk, trot, canter, lateral work and a couple of crossrails - EDIX merino GP 8 pocket pad - LAYERED INLAYS: 3 mesh on horse side, felt on rider side - Top of the picture is front of the saddle, left panel is left side of saddle, right panel is right side of saddle.
The second picture shows the impression pad when we rode with it between the saddle and the saddle pad. This is the best way I can measure the weight distribution capabilities of the saddle itself. You can see the pressure from the TCS on top of the horse's back, as well as how I sit asymmetrically on Uno.
The third picture is the impression pad after a ride with it between the horse and the saddle pad, which gives us an idea of how the saddle and saddle pad are working together. I experimented a little bit with inlays for the TCS and found the thick 3 mesh and felt to work beautifully together. Actually quite impressive distribution of my weight. You can see the possibility of a hot spot at the top of the back on the left side.
Fourth picture shows Uno's back after the ride with 3 mesh and felt. You can see a clear spinal channel on his back, so I don't think the hot spot we see on the impression pad is truly a pressure point.
I actually really like the TCS. I found it quite comfortable (but I'm comfortable bareback). Of course, due to its lack of a seat, it's probably not a good fit for those needing a narrow waist or a wide seat to support their hips, but I have seen people attach the removable seats from other saddles to a TCS, so the creative options seem pretty endless! Uno LOVES the TCS and all the horses I rode in it went well, none seemed to dislike it, though I imagine a sensitive horse without proper padding could find the pressure from the rider's seat and the strap irritating. As with all saddles, the right saddle pad is key.