Model: Isabell with CAIR
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: Purchased on usedsaddles.com, Fall '05, $1250. A great experience, by the way: really nice guys, Fred & John, will help you every step of the way, including sending it out to try for a small shipping fee. Sadly, I'm not getting a kick-back from all this promotion, but I really liked the purchasing process, and am using them again.
Likes: I think the Isabell is a really pretty saddle; the open grain leather is soft, comfortable and seemingly indestructible. I liked the idea of the deeper, supportive seat and the stirrup bar placement that is supposed to help keep the rider in the correct position. The concept behind the Bates saddles(gullet change & CAIR panels) has served me well, as I have a Caprilli Close Contact saddle that I just love. My growing warmblood, who has changed a bunch, goes so wonderfully in it. Hence, my decision to purchase an Isabell...
Dislikes: It didn't fit me, and didn't fit my horse. I was puzzled for months as to why I was riding so poorly, and why my horse was going so poorly! Then the horse masseuse commented about his sore back, wondering what had changed...and I hadn't ridden in the Close Contact saddle for a few months, only the Isabell. I switched saddles and viola! We are back working well together. Despite the fact that I tried and tried to make it work, this is a no-win situation. The Isabell just wasn't the right saddle for me, and it did not fit my horse at all. He was very sore in the shoulders. The gullet system on this Isabell was a lot harder to work with than on my newer Caprilli. Tip: I ALWAYS used an electric screwdriver! Keep one in your tack trunk.
Quality: Leather, stitching, quality is excellent! This was, from what the manufacturer told me based on the number stamped on the inside flap, a 5 year-old saddle. It looked absolutely great! And while I clean/condition only a few times/month, I do keep my saddle covered daily. Pretty easy. What's really great is the resale value is good. I put it up on eBay with a buy-it-now price of what I had paid; it was sold within days.
Summary: Lesson learned: different models fit and ride differently! I, personally, will never buy another saddle without a good, honest trial first. I gave the Isabell a try before I bought it, but thought it was my former H/J Equitation background that was causing me problems in the dressage saddle. Really, I thought I sucked at dressage (!!) even though I had been a Queen in medals on the flat. And it went downhill from there. So, initially, my riding style could have been problematic, but the Isabell still didn't serve either me or my horse well. Overall, I think Bates saddles are fantastic. But the truth is, not every model works for every rider and every horse.
Author: Chatty Cathy
Usefulness Rating: 2.42857 out of 5.
7 reader(s) voted.
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