Model: Caprilli with Cair
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: Purchased this saddle second hand from a private sale. Paid $1200 CA.
Likes: The look of the saddle is great and I find the seat comfortable (similar to a Stubben). Some riders find the seat too firm, but I found it to be a nice close contact, dressage seat. The price is reasonable and at first I liked the idea of the interchangeable gullet system.
Dislikes: Although this saddle is sold under the premise that it can be easily adjusted to fit a variety of horses, I found the opposite to be true. The gullet system really isn't ideal especially for an untrained eye for proper saddle fit. I found the saddle to bridge on some horses. I tried the saddle on 4 different horses of various body type and build and even though I adjusted the gullet according to the measurement guide and tool, the saddle did not fit, not even close. The other concern is that when the gullets are changed it really compromises the saddle. The leather can bump over the stirrup leathers, the twist becomes uncomfortable and the rider leg position is jeopardized, because there is now a huge wide seat to perch on.
Quality: The quality was satisfactory and the leather looked as though it would hold up. I have sold this saddle, so I am unsure how the leather will maintain. I am not a fan of any interchangeable gullet, the idea sounds great, but a professional fitter can't be replaced by a interchangeable gullet system alone. Good, well built saddles will fit a wide variety of horses and saddle pads can be placed to ensure optimum comfort.
Summary: The Bates saddle is a great looking saddle, with a nice seat (not overly stuffed or soft). They somewhat keep their resale. I do not like the gullet system and think that there will be a wide variety of horses out there that will suffer from a poorly fitted saddle, especially if the rider has bought into the philosophy of this saddle. Bates dealers will state that they can build up the saddle so that it fits smoothly under the saddle with no bridging, but in my opinion they are only guilty of adding another pressure point. Built up areas on the saddle will create a pressure area, because they are in place to provide depth under the saddle; this displaces the natural curve and I don't see how that could be anything, but problematic. If your horse just happens to fit nicely into the unmodified gullet (black), or smaller, than the saddle may work out well; But as for adjusting the gullets, the gullet is not the only area of concern when properly fitting a saddle.
Usefulness Rating: 2.25 out of 5.
8 reader(s) voted.
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