A Dressage Rider's Guide to Using Mattes Correction Pads

A Dressage Rider's Guide to Using Mattes Correction Pads
Table Of Content

An Introduction to Mattes Correction Pads

Mattes correction pads have become an essential tool for many equestrians, especially those who compete in dressage. These unique pads allow riders to make subtle adjustments and fine-tune their horse's way of going, helping achieve optimal performance. Keep reading to learn all about the purpose, benefits, and proper use of mattes correction pads.

What Are Mattes Correction Pads?

Mattes correction pads are thick pads that go under the regular saddle pad. They are made of multiple layers of specialty foam and fabrics that are compression-resistant. This allows them to be adjusted in certain areas to influence the horse's balance and way of moving.

By building up or compressing areas of the mattes pad, the rider can get the horse to lift or lower parts of its body, shift its balance, and travel in a more correct frame. For example, building up under the shoulders can encourage the horse to lift its forehand. The pads are fully adjustable and customizable to the needs of each unique horse.

The Benefits of Using a Mattes Correction Pad

There are several key benefits to using a mattes correction pad for dressage and other English riding disciplines:

  • Allows rider to influence horse's balance, carriage, and way of going
  • Can help correct crookedness and unevenness in the horse's body
  • Fine-tunes the horse's frame, bend, and suppleness
  • Avoids the need to use more severe training aids like draw reins
  • Easy to adjust and customize as training progresses
  • A long-term investment that lasts many years

The ability to make subtle changes to the horse's balance and muscle development is what makes the mattes correction pad so useful for dressage. The full customization of the pads lets riders target very specific improvements in their horse's way of going.

How to Use a Mattes Correction Pad

Using a mattes correction pad takes some practice and an educated eye, but can be simple once you know what you are doing. Here are some tips on proper use of correction pads:

  • Always place it under the regular saddle pad
  • Start by adding just a slight amount of padding to targeted areas
  • Build up the pad gradually over time as needed
  • Focus on lifting the horse's shoulders or lowering the hips to influence balance and frame
  • Making changes incrementally is best to allow the horse to adjust
  • Avoid over-padding areas as this can cause soreness
  • Work with your trainer to identify areas needing adjustment

It is important when introducing a correction pad to make changes slowly and methodically. Allow the horse time to adapt its musculature and way of carrying itself. Work in collaboration with your dressage trainer to use the pad most effectively.

Key Areas to Adjust on the Mattes Pad

Certain areas of the horse's body may need special focus when adjusting your mattes correction pad. Some key spots to consider padding include:

  • Shoulders - Build up slightly under the shoulders to lift the forehand
  • Withers - Add padding to allow greater freedom through the shoulders
  • Back - Pad areas along the back to influence specific vertebrae
  • Hip - Lower the height under the hip to shift the hindquarters underneath

Keep in mind the conformation of your individual horse and what areas need the most influence. Many dressage horses need padding under the shoulder to improve carriage. Others may benefit from building up the center of the back to straighten. The fully adjustable nature of the correction pad allows complete customization.

Tips for Effective Use of Mattes Pads

To use your mattes correction pad successfully, keep these tips in mind:

Check Fit Frequently

As you make adjustments to the pad, check that it still fits correctly and is positioned well on the horse's back. Slipping, uneven placement, or an ill-fitting shape can cause problems.

Make Adjustments Gradually

Only build up or compress areas slightly at a time. Changing the horse's balance and musculature drastically or too quickly can result in soreness or injury.

Use in Collaboration with Your Trainer

Work with your dressage trainer to identify areas of your horse's body and frame needing improvement. Have them watch you ride with the pad to give feedback.

Allow Time for Muscular Changes

Realize that altering the horse's balance and musculature takes consistent time and training. Use the mattes pad as part of an overall dressage training program.

Avoid Over-Padding or Compressing

Too much padding in specific spots can make the saddle unstable or poke the horse. Take a gradual approach to avoid overdoing it.


Mattes correction pads are invaluable tools for dressage riders and competitors. The ability to influence a horse's balance, muscle development, straightness, and carriage allow fine-tuning not possible with saddle pads alone. When used properly and gradually, correction pads can help take your dressage horse's way of going to the next level.

Work with your dressage trainer to identify your horse's needs, make incremental adjustments, and allow time for adaptation. With the right approach, the mattes correction pad can be integral in your dressage training success. Just be patient, strategic, and educated in your use of this helpful tool.


What materials are mattes correction pads made from?

Mattes pads have a core of specialized foam that is compression-resistant. This is sandwiched between layers of fabric, usually a cotton top and bottom with leather or synthetic leather sides.

Can I use a mattes pad with any saddle?

Mattes pads are designed to be used with dressage saddles. The flat shape and close contact to the horse is best for dressage. Using them with general purpose or jumping saddles is not recommended.

How often should I adjust the padding in my mattes pad?

A good rule of thumb is to make minor adjustments to the pad every 2-3 rides as needed. This allows the horse time to adapt its musculature between changes.

What is the best way to clean a mattes correction pad?

Mattes pads should be cleaned similarly to saddle pads. Use a stiff brush and damp cloth to remove dirt and sweat after each use. When needed, wash gently with saddle soap or mild detergent and allow to fully air dry.

Can I use a mattes pad on a young or green horse?

Mattes pads are generally only used on mature horses that have undergone basic dressage training. The pads influence subtle details best utilized by educated horses ready for fine-tuning. Introduce them gradually once basics are established.

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