Manufacturer: Bates (View all products by Bates)
Model: Caprilli Close Contact Jumping Saddle 17 1/2" Forward Flap (View all Caprilli Close Contact Jumping Saddle 17 1/2" Forward Flap reviews)
Category: Close Contact Saddles
Purchase: I purchased two of these saddles, one in a 17 1/2 forward flap and one in a 18" forward flap, online from Victory Canter for $1610 each. The price included free shipping, no tax and, the entire set of gullet plates for each of the saddles as well as an automatic 10% back ($160 on each saddle) for use as credits towards anything in the Victory Canter store. I bought a Bates Caprilli for myself and one for my husband. I am 6'3 and my husband is 6'6. I have an inseam of appx. 37" and the forward flap fits me beautifully. I am VERY long from hip to knee. My friend who is 5'10 rode in mine, fell in love and ended up purchasing a long flap that fits her beautifully. She's getting rid of the Tad Coffin she had made for her last year. Both of my saddles are Havana colored. When oiled and broken in the leather darkens slightly and has pretty reddish undertones. It matches my oiled Edgewood bridles perfectly.
Likes: These saddles are ergonomically designed for both horse and rider. The saddle is wonderfully comfortable, padded and wide through the seat bone area. The air (with some foam) panels are GREAT!!! My horses have never gone better than they have in this saddle. Their backs are round and up. I have a custom Antares and a semi-custom Selle Francais that I am getting rid of now because they don't fit any of my horses backs. The Antares actually caused severe hind limb issues with one of my horses because the tree was too narrow (despite what my Antares rep told me). The gullet on the Bates is what I would consider very wide....which is fantastic! No more crushing the spinal processes particularly during lateral movements. I think the importance of gullet width is often overshadowed by tree width and panel shape when most people consider saddles. I am tall and have large hands and I can fit my entire four to five fingers in the gullet of the saddle. My horses are all large (16.3h, 17.2h and 17.3h) and their spinal processes are not crushed by a too narrow gullet as they are with most other brands. The changeable gullets are fantastic!!! I initially turned my nose up at the concept. After all why would I want something "cheap" like a Bates when I have a $4000 custom saddle that "anyone who is worth anything" is riding in??!! I felt this way until I educated myself on saddle fit and design because of my horses fitting challenges and the resulting physical manifestations caused by my customs saddles poor fit. No, the changeable gullet and panel fit will not work for every horse. I don't feel that is the point of the saddle. However, they do allow a large degree of variability and option for most "avearage" horses that are neither shark withered nor mutton withered (which would require special customization for fit anyways). The ability to change the gullet allows you to customize the saddle to a number of horses or a developing/changing horse which might previously have required buying/selling three or four different saddles. Even if you DO have endless amounts of money to spend on saddles it is a time consuming process to go through to acquire custom saddles for all the various changes your horse might experience. This also negates (well mostly) the need to purchase 100 differnt saddle pads to try to pad your way to a fit. We all delude ourselves into thinking this is ok, but lets face it, it doesn't. Aferall it's alot less expensive to buy a pad than a new saddle!! Putting a thick pair of socks on in a pair of shoes that are too large doesn't prevent rubbing or blister. Save yourself the trouble and get a Bates. Additionally, these saddle are "A circuit" worthy regarding their aesthetic. I ride hunters and equitation on the A circuit and this saddle looks and rides the part.
Dislikes: The leather is a bit of a disappointment. It is not as soft or sticky as I would ideally like. The one thing I love about my Antares is the leather. However, that's it. With a substantial amount of oil the Bates breaks in beautifully and the leather becomes soft. It's time consuming but worth it. Oil the underside of the flaps not the top!!! It will soak in the oil if you do the undersides. I just hate the breaking in process! The leather wears like iron and looks beautiful regardless of whether I ride in full seats, jeans or breeches and boots. Similarly, the panels take a bit to settle. I consider this more an inconvenience than a dislike. Brand new wool saddles require a period of settling as well. If the Cair panels on your new Bates are not as soft as you thought, no worries, they will settle and soften. These saddles will not solve all fitting dilemmas. If you have a horse that has very prominent withers, no withers a large dip behind the withers or a large disparity between the withers and the rest of the back, the changeable gullet will not solve your saddle fitting challenges....most "off the rack saddles" sold as is won't either. My horses are all warmblods with either fairly or very flat backs and moderate withers. The panels fit my horses perfectly.
Quality: Well constructed. The gullet plates, initially are not as easy to change as it is suggested. However, with a bit of practice you can easily change the gullet in 10min or less. The leather wears like iron though it is dry in the beginning.
Summary: Go buy one. I traded in my custom saddle for this and I'm never looking back. This saddle is comfortable for the rider and ergonomically designed for the horse. Don't expect a miracle or perfect fit if your horse is an extremely odd shape to fit. The flap options are also a bonus if you are anything less than a "standard" sized rider.
Usefulness Rating: 3.23529 out of 5.
17 reader(s) voted.
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