Brockcamp Spezial Bareback Pad: First Impressions

To be clear up front: I have in no way used this enough to give a full review yet, but I’ve had A TON of people asking me about it, so I thought I’d offer my first impressions. Especially since the US dealer doesn’t have a lot of stock left and isn’t sure when more will be coming.

At $280 the Brockamp Spezial bareback pad isn’t cheap, although I would call it mid-range compared to others like Christ and Stargazer, which are more in the $500-850 range. If you only ride bareback a few times a year, it would probably make sense to buy something cheaper like the Best Friends pad or the Thinline. Or if your bareback rides are short and/or mostly walking and your horse isn’t particularly sensitive… the cheaper ones are probably fine. But, ideally I’d like to ride bareback at least once a week, I do full flatwork and sometimes jump bareback, and I own the World’s Most Delicate Flower. My crotch and his withers both wanted more padding, and I wanted a pad that had enough structure to sit well up off of his TB withers and spine (the biggest problem I’ve seen with most bareback pads is spine pressure on the horse’s back – many of them bind due to their design. Which is also why you should NEVER buy a bareback pad with stirrups – there’s no internal structure to support that pressure so it all goes on the spine.).

so much spine clearance

The Brockamp comes in TONS of colors, and of course I wanted navy, which was sold out at the time, so I had to wait for the next shipment. These pads are made in Italy (the Italian suede is real nice, omg) and Brockamp is based out of Germany, so as you can imagine covid had an impact. But they did finally make it to the US distributor, who got it in the mail to me the next day.

Initial impression out of the box: it’s definitely beautiful. It’s finished well, the suede is luxe, and it has the structure I was looking for. It comes with a neoprene girth or you can use a short girth you already have. I had already fully intended to use my own girths that I know Henry likes, which was the reason why I wanted a pad with the english style girth straps in the first place. The next question was what, if anything, did I want to put underneath it?

There are a lot of options when it comes to padding underneath a bareback pad. Option 1, of course, is no padding. This is totally fine, and the under side of this pad is a no-slip neoprene so that you won’t have slippage issues. Another option would be just a square pad or baby pad, to minimize bulk but help keep the pad clean. If you have a particularly wide horse who has issues with slippage from side to side, many people opt to use a treeless saddle pad underneath to provide even more structure, more like the panel of a saddle. I knew that I wanted to put something underneath, since Henry’s super sensitive skin has already told me that it prefers the sheepskin/merino wool life, but I didn’t think I needed to go as far as a treeless saddle pad. Enter – Presto’s Mattes half pad.

I bought one without rolls so that it could sit nicely UNDER things, and I’m very glad aboutthat choice now

The Mattes sits damn near perfectly under the Brockamp, gives the pad a layer of protection from sweat and dirt, provides Henry’s princess skin with protection from the pad, and gives a little bit more padding along his topline, too. Of course it does create a slightly wider feel under my seat, which is ok for my horse but might be annoying on particularly wide ones.

But, most importantly – what’s it like to ride in?

gotta get in on that TP challenge

Grippy. And squishy. Not overly so – I can still move around up there, and I still definitely have to use my core to keep my balance, but it’s for sure not slipping around and was more secure for me when Henry inevitably spooked (at a tree, as one does). I first I was concerned it might be TOO much padding or TOO much bulk, but I could still very easily feel Henry’s back through the pad. As you can see there is less padding underneath your seat and leg compared to the front/back, so it gives you a nice place to sit and still be in close communication with the horse. What made me happiest was feeling the difference in Henry’s trot using this pad vs when I had just been using a regular sheepskin pad or half pad for bareback rides. He was obviously more comfortable, with no hesitance to really swing through his topline. For as much as I don’t like having his withers in my crotch, horses don’t always love having our seat bones in their backs either.

The only slightly nitpicky things I can say about it so far are 1) I don’t love the underside. Then again, y’all know I don’t like neoprene much in general. I do like that it’s anti-slip, though, and I think that’s almost necessary with a bareback pad. In my dream world I would love if they made a version that was half-lined with sheepskin or something and the rest was non-slip. Granted I also realize that a lot of people use these with treeless saddle pads underneath, which makes this lining much more ideal to fully grip the other pad. My Mattes pad makes it all a non-issue, but just a rambling thought. 2) when I first pulled it out of the box I thought it might be a little TOO structured. It was rigid, and sat kind of stiffly on the horse – until I rode in it. Then, ta-da, it molded to the shape of the horse and sat really nicely. So don’t be scared if it looks a little bit like bat wings at first. It’s also worth noting that the company churns these out in fairly limited quantities, so you can’t always just go online and buy whatever color you want at any time. The stock tends to go in waves as more are distributed and it can be months before they put any more out. It makes them fairly high demand, especially in certain colors. If you’re tied to a particular color, be prepared to wait.

So far, though, the Brockamp is really hitting the main points in what I was looking for in a bareback pad. I was hesitant to spend this much, but in retrospect I’m glad I opted for the one that had everything I wanted rather than just trying to be cheap. The structure and spine clearance is great, it works with my existing girths, its comfortable for both horse and rider, it’s pretty, and it doesn’t shift or slip. Because it fits all my criteria, I know I’ll actually use it. I’m excited to get more miles on it summer and see how it holds up and how my opinion continues to evolve. I plan on posting a full review sometime in the fall, but I hope this helps give a little insight for now!

6 thoughts on “Brockcamp Spezial Bareback Pad: First Impressions

  1. Oh my word that is pretty. It looks like a cloud. You say it has good structure? Would love to know a bit more. I enjoy deepening my seat and feel and currently use a best friends pad

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  2. Wow, looks really comfortable! I’m looking to buy both the Brockcamp bareback pad and Mattes half-pad. What size do you have on your half-pad though? I don’t want to pick too small a size. Thank you!

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  3. Okay but does it reeeaaaallly give excellent wither clearance? I HATE my thinline for my sharkfin tb but ride bareback soo much and was about to make my own out of random pads which would be a disaster. Plz let this be THE ONE

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