Model: Isabell CAIR
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: Bought off ebay for $800
Likes: An excellent quality easily available dressage saddle with the added bonus of a changeable gullet system and Cair panelling- cheap and easy to maintain, no saddle soap required- or expensive reflocking. Lightweight and weatherproof. Soft, wider, comfortable seat for females. For the price, there is no other saddle IMO as long as it fits your horse.
Dislikes: Some aspects of the structure of the tree which make it unsuitable for horses which are not within a certain type (see construction). The saddle almost has to lean backward for it to be level and balanced.
Quality: After five years of heavy wear, it still looks good- I would easily show in it- but there are wear marks on the smooth panels of the flaps and the suede has smoothed and gone gray with use. These are the areas you will notice begin to wear first. However, saddles are not immortal and this one has taken a beating and still come through with flying colors; the girth points aren't even ready to be replaced yet, and the CAIR is as smooth and even as ever. I do believe these saddles are built generously in the seat- the 17' has plenty of room and there is no need to go up a size because of the depth, as suggested. If you have a wide horse, however, you should be aware that while you can change the gullet to a wide, the tree of the saddle will still be of somewhat medium proportions- that having been said, the channel is plenty generous for most. I believe this saddle is at its best on an uphill horse or one with a wither, as the waist and points of the tree are long and curved, and will be predisposed to bear weight down the front of the saddle, behind or on the shoulder, if not sufficiently angled back (as has been my experience with several horses) for it to sit level. So in reality you want an uphill shape for it to ride well. Otherwise, both you and the horse will suffer dreadfully. The seat especially has excellent potential for rider back damage if not correctly balanced. As always, it is best to consult an accredited saddlefitter to ensure the correct fit.
Summary: A handy dressage saddle with many benefits, being cheap, readily available, and at virtually no ongoing cost to maintain (other than girth points, which have not required it yet)there should be none better- but as always, the best saddle is the one that fits you and your horse- so check this first. Some people may feel they have qualms riding in a synthetic saddle, mainly for what it looks like and where it can be used(in the show ring). Don't. Isabell Werth rode Satchmo in this saddle in the 2006 WEG, 2008 Olympic Games in Honk Kong and 2009 Las Vegas World Cup, which should be good enough for you.
Usefulness Rating: 3 out of 5.
5 reader(s) voted.
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