Model: Next Generation Elevation DS Plus CAIR
Category: Jumping Saddles
Purchase: Purchased new, Dec 2009 from Green Valley Tack (E-bay), $1,950
Likes: I see so few reviews of this saddle, I wonder if people shy away from Bates because of their synthetic line. I feel compelled to correct this because they are missing out on a fantastic saddle, especially at this price point. I have the deep-seat model with covered leather. The covered leather flaps have a luxurious padded quality that provides a good grippy feel and amazing comfort for your legs. It has a very narrow twist, giving you perfectly even contact from the top of your thigh to below your knee. The stirrup bars are positioned perfectly and your toe is directly under your knee with a dead-on vertical stirrup leather, and it happens effortlessly. There is no doubt this saddle has improved my position. The knee roll covers are padded with memory foam. After three years, they are just as cushy as when it was brand new. The front blocks are sizeable and the padded flaps are made to conform around them. Their position is adjustable but I have never felt the need to move them. Between the knee and calf blocks and the deep seat, this saddle gives a very secure ride. The seat is cushioned and extremely comfortable. The few people who have ridden in my saddle immediately commented on how comfortable it was. I can't ask my horse, but as far as I know, he is very comfortable in this saddle. He has never had a sore back. The extended panels spread the rider's weight over a greater area and the CAIR system functions as intended. I have changed the gullet a couple times. It is one of those jobs you wish you had three hands for and positioning everything correctly to basically screw the pommel back together can be a little challenging. But the simplicity of the system is great. You just un-screw the breastplate dees and peel the saddle apart. You just can't beat the ability to make one saddle fit multiple horses, or adapt to a growing horse.
Quality: The quality and workmanship are absolutely top-notch. Everything is symmetrical, even, and beautifully stitched. (An important point is that after three years, everything is STILL stitched!) All leather is matched and there isn't a blemish to be found.
Summary: I would guess I have about 500 rides on my Bates Elevation by now. It fits me like a glove. The only signs of wear are the finish just beginning to wear off the waist (which happens to every saddle) and the stirrup leathers have smoothed the leather slightly at the bottom of the flaps. Most people are surprised to learn it is three years old.
Usefulness Rating: 4.85 out of 5.
40 reader(s) voted.
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