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“And so I became The Dr. Phil of equestrian textiles.” – John Da Silva

Ecogold has been a household name in the equestrian industry for many years. Every great product stems from a problem and the unique innovations incorporated in each Ecogold saddle pad directly corresponds to problems brought to owner and founder John Da Silva to solve.

It all started at the University of Ottawa. John was there because his manufacturing company was sponsoring a car in a solar car race. The university had an equestrian team that also reached out to the company to supply their team jackets. Ecogold started manufacturing some textile products for the equestrian market. At a dressage horse show, John happened to meet a rider who was upset that one of her horses had a problem.

“They asked me ‘would you like to see the horse’ and I thought ‘why not’.” says John.

The horse had a large saddle rub on its back – a large, bald, and extremely sensitive sore. “I had no idea what it was but it’s probably from the saddle rubbing.” says John. “My feeling is that if you have a pad that has one layer touching the horse, the other touching the saddle, and Teflon™ in the middle so that the saddle can move but the piece that is in contact with the horse does not, this will not happen.”

John designed and created a pad that did exactly what he had described. A saddle pad prevents rubbing on the horse’s skin by transfering the movement and friction from the horse’s back to inside the two layers of fabric. He sent the saddle pad to the rider who began using it. In a few short weeks, the sore began to disappear and hair started growing back. To make sure it wasn’t a fluke, John made a second saddle pad to be tested. He found a rider willing to try it at an upper level clinic given by a Canadian Grand Prix rider. The rider took the test pad home to try and was very impressed with the results.

“You know John, you really have something fantastic here,” she said. When John asked why, she proceeded: “Look at my horse. Look how happy he is.”

John admits that he is not a horse expert and couldn’t tell exactly how happy the horse was, but he took the rider’s word for it. And with that, the Frictionless™ system, that is in most Ecogold saddle pads, was born.

Ashley Holzer using the Frictionless saddle pad