Cheap is as cheap does. You buy cheap, you get a cheap saddle.
IMO Bates and Wintec are designed very poorly and do not place the rider in a good position. As well they tout the "system that fits every horse" which is a complete lie. Anything that touts "one size fits all" needs to be run away from, quickly. They fit some horses OK, most horses not at all and very few horses do they fit well.
I much prefer a KN, Passier, Stubben or other good quality saddle which is designed well. It is not difficult to find a good quality used and fairly inexpensive saddle which will usually fit the horse far better than a Wintec.
Wintecs and others are good starter saddles, but IMO as soon as a person has decided to go down the path of dressage, they need to be in correct gear, and that includes a proper, well fitted saddle.
I don't agree with the first part of this statement...
Yes you do get what you pay for, however if you look after your gear there is no reason a synthetic saddle cannont be a well fitting saddle.
The key is fitting the saddle to the horse and rider
. Most people don't take that into account. It is no good buying a saddle that you ride well in (regardless whether it is a KN, Passier, Stubben, Wintec or Tekna) if it doesn't fit your horse, the same goes the other way... What fits your horse amazingly, may not fit you.
No two horses are the same and saying that one brand of saddle doesn't really fit the majority of horses is silly. How many of those saddles that do not fit have been fitted by a competant and knowledgeable saddle fitter? how many of those that do not fit are fitted properly every 12 months to account for the horses body changing shape?
How many people adjust their own gullets because they can
? This messes with the flock, CAIR or FLAIR and affects the way the saddle sits... Thus affecting the fit.
The saddle that fits my 14.3 gelding the best is actually an older style Wintec Isabell. Puts me in a great position too. I have ridden in a variety of saddles (Bates Dressage, Bates Innova, KN Rhapsodie, KN Melodie, Keiffer Melbourne, Prestige D1 Lux - used to work for a pro dressage rider) I know what a "good saddle" feels like to ride in and for me and my gelding... the Synthetic Isabell is on par with the others I have named above.
The last part about the well fitted saddle is the important part. Unless your saddle fits the pair of you, you are not going to achieve the same results you would if the saddle works for you both... Regardless if it is a Synthetic or super expensive Leather saddle.