Although not so common these days, old fashioned children's felt pad saddles are still used occasionally for young children.
They are most popular for use on Shetland and other small ponies where it can be difficult to get a regular to fit.
Pad saddles have no tree, and they are really just one step up from riding with a blanket attached by a circingle.
They are made of thick, about one inch, felt. This thick felt is usually green or brown, but does come in other colours. Some pad saddles have a layer of leather covering part or all of the felt.
There is leather or leather-covered metal hand loop or arch at the front which gives the childrider something to hold on to.
Pad saddles are fitted with stirrups, leathers and a girth for securing on to the pony. Very often a crupper will be used with a pad saddle.
Many children who learn to ride on a Pad saddle will develop a naturally deep and sensitive seat.
However once they become used to the very close contact that a pad saddle gives they sometimes find it quite difficult to adapt to a traditional saddle with a tree.
A pony will be most comfortable in a normal saddle with a tree. The tree keeps the rider's weight off the pony's spine. This allows the pony to flex his back more easily, and distributes the rider's weight more evenly onto the strong muscles of the back rather than onto the spine and withers.
A pad saddle just puts a little thin pad where you already have quite a lot of your own padding! Which means that as far as a pony is concerned, it doesn't help him at all. It just adds an uncomfortable tight girth.