Model: VSD Saddle
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: I bought this on closeout at Dover for about $250 last year. Even if I had paid full price it would be well worth it! I love this saddle! I don't have my own horse so I ride lots of different horses. I bought this because the easy change gullet system would help it fit more horses than a standard saddle. I also could not afford a top quality leather saddle, so instead of getting a cheap leather one I decided to get a nice synthetic instead.
Likes: The easy change gullet system is great. It takes about 5 minutes to get it changed (now that I've got the hang of it, it took about 15-20 on the first try). I have found that it fits most horses I ride. Keep in mind that only the gullet changes, so it won't fit all horses (no saddle can do that). The panels are only gently curved so I have had bridging problems on horses with a deep curve in their back or high withers. But it fits most horses reasonably well. The seat is also super comfy to sit in. I've found that all Wintecs I've tried have comfortable and supportive seats. I never feel sore in this saddle, and it's very easy to keep a good balanced seat.
Dislikes: This saddle really doesn't have any big flaws. The only minor quibbles I have are with the stirrup bars and the billet straps. The stirrup bars are extremely tight, so you can basically only use slimline Wintec stirrups in them, and even those are hard to get in. They do loosen up with time, but they are still tighter than most bars after a year of use. I doubt the stirrup leathers would come loose from the saddle in a fall, so I use safety stirrups. I hope Wintec redesigns them. The billet straps are made from a great, super-strong synthetic material that I doubt will ever break. However, when they are new they are extremely stiff and hard to unbuckle. For the first few weeks I had to have someone stand on the other side of the saddle to hold it still while I huffed and puffed and popped the billet straps loose. Now they are perfect, and cause no problems at all, but I hope Wintec will work on this material so that it doesn't need a break in period.
Quality: The quality of this saddle is top notch. It is very symmetrical and shows careful craftsmanship in every detail, even though it is an inexpensive saddle. The material it's made of is super tough and good looking. Even after a year of use it still looks new. I ride a horse that likes to knock saddles off their stands and roll them around on the ground with her nose, and even after this treatment the material still looks new--no scuffs or scratches! And you can ride in the rain or swim all you want. If you ever need to clean it (and I don't have to often, it repels dirt very well) you can just use a damp rag. Looks like leather unless you are right next to it. The CAIR panels seem to work fine. I actually can't tell the difference between them and regular panels feel-wise. I have heard that some people find them 'bouncy' but I haven't experienced that. It may depend on the horse you ride. The horses all seem to like the CAIR too, and find it easy to round their back. The panels seem super tough and I doubt I will have any problems with them.
Summary: I would recommend this saddle to anyone without reservation. It would be especially good for anyone who has multiple horses, for lesson barns, and camps. But even if you only ride one horse it's a great saddle because of the high quality you get for the low price. It is not a 'real' dressage saddle, it is a "variable style dressage" -- more like an all purpose saddle with a dressage bent. So it's good for people who mostly do flatwork. You could jump in it, but it's not ideal for lots of jumping. This saddle has not disappointed me in any way---I will certainly be buying more Wintecs in the future.
Usefulness Rating: 2 out of 5.
2 reader(s) voted.
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