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Horse Numnah - What is it and Why Use it?

If you are new to riding or horse ownership then you are probably surprised at how many pieces of equipment and accessories you need. You may be finding some of the terminology confusing too. One term that you might be wondering about is numnah. So what is a horse numnah and should you use one?

A numnah is a type of Saddle Pad. It sits between the saddle and the horse. Whereas a saddle cloth is usually rectangular, a numnah is more saddle shaped. It will usually be slightly larger than the saddle so that the edges are visible when the saddle is in place.

Why Use a Horse Numnah?

A numnah is used for two principle reasons – to protect your valuable saddle from dirt and sweat and to protect your horse’s back. Numnahs are effective at soaking up sweat which would otherwise damage the saddle. They also prevent the saddle from rubbing, as this can cause pressure sores to develop on your horse’s back. Numnahs are also shock absorbing which helps the horse but which can make life a little more comfortable for riders too.

Style Matters

If you like to coordinate your look then the good news is that numnahs are available in a variety of styles and colours. You will find wool, fleece, quilted and acrylic numnahs, and there is sure to be something to suit your taste. There are even embroidered numnahs and saddle cloths available if you are looking for something really smart.

Wool numnahs are naturally moisture wicking and are great for regulating your horse’s temperature. They are durable and naturally anti-bacterial. Wool is soft and has a luxurious feel but wool numnahs are more costly that synthetic styles and are more difficult to care for. Specialist numnah care products are available to help you though.

Synthetic numnahs are generally cheaper options and are available in faux wool styles. They are simpler to wash but may not have a lifespan to rival a well-cared for woollen numnah.

Consider the thickness of the numnah as you would want a thinner cooler material in summer and can use a thicker warmer material in winter. It is also a good idea to have a variety available so you can rotate them while one is being cleaned.

What’s in a Name?

If you haven’t heard about numnahs before then you might be thinking about the unusual name. It is derived from the Urdu word namda. Many equestrian terms have their origins in India - Gymkhana and jodhpurs for instance. Numnah is a term which is commonly used in the UK and sometimes in Australia but rarely elsewhere.

Saddle Cloth or Numnah?

So should you use a saddle cloth or a numnah? Well that is a matter of personal taste and which you find best suits your horse. You may prefer the look of a numnah and you might find that it is more comfortable for both you and your mount. On the other hand, some numnahs might be too warm for your horse. You may wish to have both a numnah and a saddle cloth, so that in the warmer months you can use a numnah as there is less material for your horse to sweat under when exercising. Numnahs tend to be best suited to horses with high withers but you might have to experiment to discover what’s best for yours.

At least you now know what a horse numnah is!


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