Remember that just because the gullet is changeable, that does not mean the saddle will fit your horse. My step-father, in an act of, er, kindness, went ahead and bought me a brand new Wintec 2000 AP saddle, as well as a gullet kit. He thought that because I could adjust the gullet, and the CAIR system was within, I could "make" it fit. It does not fit at all. It pitches me forward, forces me into a bad position, and, in addition, it's terrible on Mudpie. I've done extensive measuring, adjusting etc, but it just doesn't work.
I'm definitely not saying that Wintecs won't work for people, because I'm certain there are people out there who have had good experiences with them. But as it is right now, I am not one of them. Just letting you know!
It may be a good idea to just do some saddle shopping, and have a professional help you fit a saddle. With SmartPak, when you do test rides on saddles, they pay shipping both ways. :)
Good advice, I am finding out it is tricky, no two horses are alike! I was thinking of hiring someone who knows saddles to come out and look at horse and then find a shop with used saddles who will let us take a couple to try on, I don't know if they do that, but I hope so.
I thought your poem was beautiful:
The hills were bathed in moonlight, the shadows not so stark;
Silver light reflected off his brown hide as he held me in the dark
– I love you, Mudpie!
I have had Wintec saddles for years and I LOVE THEM. Bates are awesome too. I really want a Pessoa which you can get with easy-change gullets now too.
I haven't had to fit REALLY high withers... my gelding has decent withers but they're not that high. We had a mare with what everybody classified as "high" and a Wintec 500 AP was perfect on her. Only horse I have EVER seen that the 500 AP actually sat well on. Other than that, the Standie I had years ago had no withers to speak of, the pony I used to have had no withers at all, there's my gelding, and then my filly (also a TB) doesn't have much in the way of withers either!
Do be wary of Cair, the way the air panels are connected (there are two in each saddle panel) can create some really nasty pressure points and the equine chiro I use said he can always tell horses ridden in Cair saddles from horses ridden in flocked saddles because the ones ridden in Cair are all sore in the same place. He doesn't know that one of my saddles has it.
HOWEVER. My jumping saddle has Cair, and I have no issues with it at all. It's latest model, so perhaps they've solved the problem of soreness. Perhaps my horse is less sensitive than some others, and perhaps my saddle is one of the good ones.
I had a pony that bucked like a demon in any flocked saddle... rode him in a Cair saddle that did NOT fit, and he was an angel. OK so he still bucked on occasion but nothing even close to as bad. The flocked saddle I had him in fit him very nicely, so it's nothing to do with fit or the air panels evening out pressure points.
I've met horses that are a nightmare in Cair and a dream in flocked, horses that couldn't care less (mine included), and horses that are a nightmare in flocked and a dream in Cair. There are no absolutes when it comes to horses.
Just because the horse has high withers, DO NOT be tempted to put a really narrow saddle on it! The saddle doesn't sit on the withers, it sits on the muscles attached to the withers, and I have known horses that had REALLY high withers and REALLY broad backs. If the horse is in a wide or extra-wide in the Bates/Wintec range, but the saddles sit too low on its withers, then a Bates/Wintec Wide may work, because they can take a wide/extra wide, and will give greater wither clearance. The Wide range is specifically for horses wider than x/w and they are awesome saddles.
Edit; the other thing really awesome for horses with ridiculous withers is a cutback saddle. Pretty much every Kieffer has a cutback pommel. We have a G Fieldhouse here that's cut back, and it's lovely but really narrow and doesn't fit any of our horses... it's pretty old but the leather is beautiful and it's in fantastic condition. Just a darn shame ours are all wide... including my slender TB!
Hi, thank you all for so many good suggestions on what to look at, with so many choices its good to be able to narrow it down. I am going on the assumption that his withers would be considered high, but maybe once he fills out they really aren't. I'm attaching photo if anyone can tell me their opinion whether they are high or not. I "bailed him" about two weeks ago from a feed lot auction and he is at a farm now just relaxing and being a horse after all he's been through, and hopefully fattening up. I am looking for a saddle to ride him as he progressively builds his muscle and weight up so the saddle needs to grow with him a bit.
All suggestions and advice very welcome, I want to do my very best for him, he so deserves it.
I rode in a Wintec Pro Dressage (the version before the current model) for several years with several leased horses. I just replaced it with a nicer saddle now that I have my own horse. The Wintec was an OK fit for me and the various horses, but didn't really help me stay in a good position. I've heard very good things about the new Pro and Isabell models.
You might want to look for a Wintec with the Easy Change Riser System in addition to the Easy Change gullets to help clear those withers. (I'm not sure if all the saddles come with that now?)