Originally Posted by CJ82Sky
Right but they also conform to your horse's back - so if your horse has a muscle knot, that will be formed in there as well. Or if your horse changes shape, the saddle is molded to the shape he was at that point in time. Imagine sleeping on a pillow that is made of memory foam, only it doesn't reform every time you lie down. It stays the same as the impression you made when it molded to you the first few times you slept on it. Not so comfortable if you shift or anything changes, right?
Wool flocking, GOOD wool flocking, will adjust with time. It also should conform to the general shape of your horse's back, not to every scab or bump. It takes WEEKS for the wool flocking to mold and break in. If your horse has a muscle knot that long, then I'd think you'd figure it out and have his/her back worked on...
Whereas with the CAIR panels they are filled with air, so they will mold to your horses back and perfectly conform EVERY ride, always. If your horse changes shape, the air in the panels will too. If your horse has a muscle knot, the air will relieve the pressure around that. If you use the saddle on one horse, then on another horse, the air panels will form to fit each horse that's being ridden as they are ridden.
CAIR panels only adjust so much. They have to fit the general shape of your horse's back without a rider in the saddle. If the panel shape is rounded on the bottom and your horse has a flat back (or vice versa) then the saddle will not be comfortable for you horse. THIS is why some horses don't go well in CAIR paneled saddles.
Also what if you are uneven as a rider for chiropractic reasons or other reasons (no one is symmetrical). Your weight in the saddle will affect the weight distribution on the horse's back, and the wool will form with the amount of pressure coming from the rider as well. Again the CAIR panels will not do that and they will adjust so that if you are uneven, the air will better distribute the pressure across the horse to reduce pressure points, something that a wool or foam flocked saddle can not do.
Wool flocked saddles can be adjusted as time goes on. A wool flocked saddle should be looked at by a saddle fitter once a year, or at the very least, every 2 years. Any imbalances in the saddle can be corrected then. A horse and/or rider has to be pretty darn out of balance for an extended period to effect the wool flocking like that...
Also, CAIR panels do NOT "share" air between the panels. The air bladders are not connected. If you're heavy on one side, your horse will still feel it plain as day.
I have SEEN cair saddles fail a PLIP test (Port Lewis Impression Pad), more than one saddle. If the saddle fits the horse well, in all aspects, then I agree, cair saddles are great. But, the do NOT fit ALL horses well, as back shape plays a large roll in how the horse will perform and like the saddle. CAIR panels will work only if they are close to the horse's back shape to start with.
With a wool flocked saddle, you can physically change the shape of the panels and even the fit of the front of the tree. You can change the flocking if the saddle bridges or if the saddle is imbalanced. These are minor to moderate adjustments of course, but none of them can be made with a CAIR saddle or a foam flocked saddle.
My daughter has a Wintec Pro-Jump with CAIR panels. It works well on my mare, but my gelding hates it, no matter what I do to adjust it.