Manufacturer: Wintec (View all products by Wintec)
Model: Isabell w/ CAIR panels (View all Isabell Dressage Saddle With CAIR reviews)
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: I had bought my old Wintec Sport for $ 100, and was the 4th owner. The saddle was beautifully light-weight, and both my horse and I loved it. Unfortunately, I actually wore through the synthetic leather on the flaps, right under the leg, so the white was showing through. Couldn't put it off any longer, and had heard good things about the Isabell, so bought the 17" saddle w/CAIR on eBay for $990, with stirrups, leathers, girth, cover, gauge and all gullets included. An easy transaction, a good deal. Did look for ones without the CAIR, but couldn't find any at the time.
Likes: Nice deep seat, places you in a good position. Easy to ride with a long, easy leg. So easy to clean, just hose it off and you're done! Pretty indestructible. Very light as far as a saddle of that size would go, although significantly heavier than my old one. Nice and grippy/sticky, too -- easier to ride those extensions!
Dislikes: I like close contact saddles, and my old saddle allowed me to feel exactly what my horse was doing. I do need to have a VERY good line of instantaneous communication with the horse, and I found that he was having a hard time feeling my seat and legs just as I had a hard time feeling him under me. It's like sitting in an arm chair on top of the horse, not in a saddle. I've now had this saddle for about a year, and still get this "Where's my horse?" feeling when I sit in it. Definitely too heavy for a synthetic saddle! Maybe the one without CAIR would have done better, because in addition to not feeling the horse I find the saddle to be a bit too bouncy. This is definitely not a result of my horse moving more freely -- he's actually moving a little worse, because he's not feeling the aids as well as before, I'm pretty sure it's the CAIR panel. The only helpful thing is the grippy quality of the EquiSuede. This saddle has a much larger 'footprint' than other saddles, too -- had to go and get all new saddle pads, because every one of my old ones was too short in the back by about an inch. Also noticing that the horse sweats very heavily under this saddle, much more than under the old one. Possibly because of the vinyl in the air bladders?
Quality: Beautifully made; these folks put the same attention into these saddles that would have gone into a good quality leather saddle. Absolutely no complaints about the stitching. Consistent material quality throughout. Gotta love the EquiSuede!
Summary: WAAAY too much saddle for effective communication with the beastie! Needs to be lighter, thinner, and without CAIR. Will either buy another saddle, or try to have my old one re-covered.
Usefulness Rating: 2.6 out of 5.
5 reader(s) voted.
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