Memory foam has been all the buzz over the past while and I thought it would be a great time to write in my little diary about it to shed a little more light on the subject.
First and foremost, what is memory foam?
Thank you to my friends at Wikipedia,
Memory foam is Polyurethane with additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as "viscoelastic" polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam (see LRPu). Higher-density memory foam softens in reaction to body heat, allowing it to mold to a warm body in a few minutes. Faster speed of recovery of a foam to its original shape after a weight is removed is sometimes claimed as an advantage by memory-foam mattress producers, who may talk of "newer generation" foams with "faster recovery.”
Basically, what they are describing is that memory foam is:
- Higher in density
- Reacts to heat faster and softens quicker loosing its original density
- After heat and weight has been removed and the foam quickly cools and goes back into the original shape
Speaking as a person searching for a new bed. I would love a new bed with a memory foam mattress topper. However, even in the industry of bedding, there is a system.
- The frame
- The Box Spring
- The Mattress
- Then if you are the type who wants that extra cushion, the memory foam mattress pad.
I am sure there are several in the bedding industry who know much more than me who will argue on what goes where and how. But the reason I am explaining it this way is for you to understand we need support. Memory foam does not provide support. It reacts very quickly to heat and weight, almost immediately going to paper thin thickness. Riders are thinking they are providing their horses with extra padding because their saddle is not fitting or just “adding it just for that extra but - just in case”. There should never be a “ just in case” in saddle fitting.
When you take a memory foam half pad for example - if you pinch the pad with your fingers within 30 seconds you can feel your fingers touching. This proves Wikipedias point above. Memory foam is not supportive nor is it a piece of equipment necessary to make any saddle fit better. If a saddle is too wide or too narrow, or there is a pressure point, just like the old saying goes "stuffing more socks into a shoe that doesn't fit, isn't going to make the shoe fit". Whether it is a pleasure or a performance horse, as a Master Saddle Fit Specialist, to me it does not matter they are all equal and important and should have equipment that properly fits.
Riders need to understand that we are playing around with nerves, shoulder blades, vertebras and muscle to name a few. Our horses are the ones who are who are doing the jobs for us and they do such a good and honourable job for us, just so that we can have fun. The least we can do is make sure the equipment that we have on our animals fits to the best of our ability.
It should never be because it is the “in” name, or the “in” thing, we as an industry need to educate ourselves and our friends to make sure our horses get the very best.