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!
Last edited by blue eyed pony; 09-17-2012 at 03:07 PM.