Manufacturer: Bates Wintec
Model: Isabel with Cair
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: I paid the standard RRP price for it new at Horseland. I event up to 2* and dressage up to Medium. I have ridden in a range of dressage saddles (Kieffer, Childeric, Prestige) and this is the level of experience I have based my opinion on.
Likes: I like that I don't have to worry if it starts raining when I ride. I like that I don't have to oil it. Now that I've sold it to some other poor sod, I like the fact that I never have to ride in it again.
Dislikes: Two things. 1. The saddle is completely the wrong shape and encourages you to fall forward. The balance point is in the wrong place, and combined with the setback on the stirrup bars, you constantly have the feeling that you are tipping forward and losing balance. If you have a young horse that throws the odd buck in, you won't stand a chance of staying on. It's constantly forcing you to fall forward so you are always contracting your back muscles to try and pull yourself back to vertical. there's only so long you can keep this up for. I know it's carrying an Olympic riders' name on it, but something obviously got lost in translation during the development phase. 2. The CAIR is a complete disaster. I have had 3 Bates saddles with CAIR (yes, apparently I'm a slow learner). The issue is that the panels are just blown up with air. This makes them rock hard like a basketball and likely to cause a very sore back on your horse. The standard flocking option is actually softer. Don't think you are doing your horses any favours buying them CAIR panels. If you are serious about trying to give your horse a softer ride in the back (and yours), buy a better saddle and splash out for the proper 'Flair' panels.
Quality: Not very good, but pretty standard for a Wintec. You get what you pay for and they are a cheap saddle. You really can't complain for the price.
Summary: Overall, the saddle is just too horrid for words. Buy something else.... anything else. Wintecs are OK if you're at Pony Cub riding on a budget, but for the new price of one of these, you can buy a range of quality second-hand European saddles. Do that instead.
Usefulness Rating: 2 out of 5.
5 reader(s) voted.
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