Kieffer's reindeer saddle pad

Kieffer claims that their reindeer saddle pad is not just an “eye catcher.”  It also “supports with the treatment of abraded positions.”  Huh?  Is this translated from German to Japanese to English?

You may be wondering why a company as venerable as Kieffer would market a reindeer saddle pad (and be too cheap to hire a decent translator if their in-house copywriters didn’t learn how to speak perfect English in school, which is what I thought they all did in Europe).  Oh well, never mind, they may not be on the cutting edge of German-English translation, but I’m guessing that they’re right on the cutting edge of the news published online in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

That’s where a group from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna published their research on The Effects of Different Saddle Pads on Forces and Pressure Distribution Beneath a Fitted Saddle .  The fact that the title of their article refers to a “Fitted Saddle” (as opposed to a Non-Fitted Saddle?) should prepare you for the different kinds of saddle pads these guys chose to compare:  gel, leather, foam and reindeer fur.

Tad Coffin leather pad

That’s right, that was their top four:  gel, leather, foam and reindeer fur.  How many people have ever seen a reindeer fur pad or would even think of one?

Why no felt?  No sheepskin?  Are these guys horse people or what?  Are they living in Lapland?  No, they’re in Austria, where I’m sure they sell lots of Mattes and Christ sheepskin pads.

So let’s say they have a bias, or their research was funded by the Anti-Santa Coalition.  But thanks to Kieffer, I now know what makes reindeer fur so special.  It’s the “ca. 700 hollow hairs and 2000 woolly hairs per centimeter!” (Kieffer’s exclamation point).  Deer and elk also have hollow hairs but I’m guessing they have less than 2000 per centimeter and are a lot less fluffy (and heartbreaking).

Heartbreaking not just because of the species involved, especially at this time of year, but also because of the price.  The world’s allegedly most effective saddle pad costs between $300-$400, approximately, if you buy a Kieffer. There is a competitor:  Nordic HorseSelect in Lapland, but there are no prices on their website yet (if this reindeer saddle pad thing takes off, there no doubt will be).  [When I wrote this blog post on 12/1/11, Nordic HorseSelect had an active web page, which is now down.  I’m leaving the link intact in the event that it’s a “glitch.”]

Personally, I love my Prolites and I succumbed to a Back on Track saddle pad just a few weeks ago, because I love all their other products.  But do you think Santa would be offended if I put a reindeer saddle pad on my Christmas wish list?