Manufacturer: Wintec (View all products by Wintec)
Model: Close Contact w/ CAIR & changeable gullets (View all Close Contact Saddle with CAIR and Changeable Gullet reviews)
Category: Close Contact Saddles
Purchase: I had been desperately in love with the Bates Caprilli close contact saddle for a while. No matter which way I cut it, I couldn't justify spending the $1,800 for a schooling saddle. I then discovered that the new Wintec close contact saddle was modeled after the Bates Caprilli (Bates/Wintec are the same company). From a distance of more than 4 feet, they look nearly indentical. I bid on a few on eBay, but I wasn't willing to buy a used condition saddle for as much as it would cost to just go to a tack shop and buy it, so I was outbid on them for months. A student of mine manages a State Line Tack shop inside of a pet store and they sell everything that State Line sells, so she did me a favor and gave me the $499 saddle for $325. I just happened to have leathers that matched it perfectly, but it's a weird (but gorgeous) caramel color that most leathers won't really match.
Likes: It's incredibly comfortable. And as for the CAIR system, be damned all ye naysayers! Cold-backed horses suddenly don't wince when being asked with a change in seat to move into a longer trot and with the changeable gullets, I feel very comfortable using this saddle with just a baby pad and no big, fluffy bounce pads. As a result, the communication I feel between my legs, weight, seat and the horse is impressively hightened. I also love the look and profile of this saddle. It has Velco knee rolls that I can move around to suit what I need to do. It immediately felt broken in. I use it very often and it's wearing so much better than any leather saddle in the barn. I like the idea of an all synthetic saddle for many reasons: - I work really hard at my barn and don't have time to scrub tack every day. This stuff holds up to sweat and abuse - It's never going to wear like leather. It's going to hold up where a leather saddle will show its age. - As animal lovers, I think we should make an effort to use less animal product in our sport. If I can buy an attractive leather-substitute that serves the same purpose just as well as or better than leather, I should do it. Not to sound like a useless hippy, but, really, I'd prefer to waste as little leather and animal suffering as I can. You can only do so much of that in what we do, but why not cut corners were we can if it doesn't negatively impact anything?
Dislikes: The billets are a little short and I'd prefer if the billet guard was built-in, but, really, I can't think of anything else to complain about. I love this saddle.
Quality: Super high quality. I was impressed. The stitiching is holding up remarkably well. No signs of wear in a saddle that is used every day.
Summary: Great saddle and a great price. It's kind on many levels. To the leather-producing animals, to the different sized horses that will be wearing the saddle, to the emotions of the horse under less stress because the saddle fits them and with the closer contact afforded by the lack of padding needed they are more able to understand what you want from them. I just love this saddle.
Usefulness Rating: 2.6 out of 5.
5 reader(s) voted.
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