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Saddles:Synthetic vs Leather - your thoughts

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    12-22-2013, 08:05 PM
  #11
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by chloeloveu    
Just curious as to what people prefer when it comes to saddles. Leather vs Synthetic. What are your thoughts on either. Just trying to figure out what I would like better. Cons and Pros of both would be wonderful if you have the time. Thanks for helping. :)
In reality it's simply a matter of preference.
Leather is "traditional", because it was what they were all made form (but then there really wasn't anything else )

Experience with both (I have leather and synthetic) have taught me the following.

Leather requires at least 10 X the effort to maintain..
Leather will fail quicker (easier if you prefer). (e.g. I've yet to have synthetic stirrup strap snap on me, but I've had new leather ones fail within 10 days before....not fun when you're way out).
Depending on your taste leather can look better and sometimes feel better than some of the synthetics (usually looks/feels better than nylon)
Leather is heavier.

You can reverse these items and get the good and bad for synthetic.

You also different synthetics. I like beta material. Gives me the look of leather, holds up better, easier to clean then my hands. Maintenance is pretty much nil. Will not absorb sweat so it just wipes off and is ready to go with out needing all the care to leather needs to make it last.

I like my leather saddles for specific reasons. Weight. Easy, convenient extra weight for conditioning. It's a bit like comparing leather cinches to mohair. Mohair is easier to clean and dry out after getting soaked. In general it will outlast a leather cinch. My leather saddles require more work to maintain since moisture is not a friend to leather (and sweat is moist along with rain, lakes, ponds, etc.....). I also like the "look" of my leather saddles, but I just have to accept that I must spend the time maintaining them (treating and polishing to slow the process of deterioration....but they still deteriorate....it's like aging...it's going to happen...you can't stop it).

I like my synthetic gear for my traveling (not just saddles, but bridle, etc...). I don't need to carry things to care for leather. It's light so I can carry more of the important things.

Now, while I readily swap leather for synthetic for some things I don't swap all things for synthetic. I still find a good 100% blanket makes the best saddle blanket (and doubles to keep me warm at night). I still prefer mohair to synthetic cinches.

Of course most people ride less than I do and a with a different sort of activity so weight and maintenance aren't as important. So then it just comes down to the person's preference.
     
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    12-22-2013, 08:09 PM
  #12
Yearling
100% wool blanket

I really should proof read . Always mess up when I'm typing.
     
    12-22-2013, 08:09 PM
  #13
Started
Depends on the saddle. I don't like synthetic western saddles. The ones I have seen look cheap. I do like the synthetic English saddles. The continue to look nice and I usually can get a good fit for my horse.
     
    12-22-2013, 08:18 PM
  #14
Yearling
I had a synthetic saddle, hated it for the sole fact that it could not stand up to work. My stirrups looked horrible and I probably only used the saddle 250 times. Only thing I liked about it was that it could shine.

Leather is worth the price, yes it may take a little to keep up but its worth it and you can repair it.
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    12-22-2013, 08:42 PM
  #15
Foal
I have a synthetic abetta and a synthetic kimberly austra. Saddle. Nothing at all wrong with these saddles.

PROS
-very durable
-no maintance
-low priced. (a third or less of custom made leather)
-light weight
-easy to clean
-easy to do minor repairs your self
-easy to fit to horse IMO
-easy to do minor modifications
-more comfortable than leather IMO
-i don't mind grabbing them for a quick ride or riding in rougher areas.
CONS
-none....other than its simply not leather

I have a henry miller endurance/trail saddle that's leather.

PROS
-its leather
-its a beautiful saddle
-its leather
Its a great saddle comfortable fits both me and my horse great. I really like it alot.
-its leather
CONS
-heavy in comparison to synthetic
-more difficult to clean
-more difficult to maintain
-if anything goes wrong I don't want to do repairs or mods myself personally
-its comfortable but not as comfortable as the other too
-not a saddle I want to throw on for a few mins ride or certain areas I ride (id rather beat the heck outa the cheaper priced synthetics)
-the squeaking of leather gets irratating on long trail rides (needs oiling)

My opinion is: I love the synthetics. I recommend them. They are bullet proof. BUT they aint leather. And a saddle on a horse just doesnt seem right not being leather. Thankfully I have and can use both.
     
    12-23-2013, 02:53 AM
  #16
Weanling
You couldn't PAY me to own another synthetic saddle.

I've owned two wintecs. An English CC & Western trail. Pros? Both were super lightweight & I really do hate lugging a heavy saddle onto my horse's backs. The western was just absolute junk. It didn't put you in a comfortable position & was hard as a rock. It also wasn't going to last. I've had my Saddle King for the past 11yrs+ - its been through hell and back - and still has survived better.

The english CC? It always felt like there was a ton of junk between me & the horse. It stained BADLY where the stirrup leathers were. No getting that out. No matter what gullet you had in the thing it rolled on every horse. Plus the seat was slick as can be. You could forget about riding it in the winter - near impossible to stay on.

Now would I try another synthetic again? For western maybe, give the other brands a shot. Overall I'm not impressed. I don't like the fake look of most of them. Now wintecs have gotten much better & cordura saddles don't look too bad either - but not my thing.
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    12-23-2013, 03:54 AM
  #17
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by SketchyHorse    
You couldn't PAY me to own another synthetic saddle.

I've owned two wintecs. An English CC & Western trail. Pros? Both were super lightweight & I really do hate lugging a heavy saddle onto my horse's backs. The western was just absolute junk. It didn't put you in a comfortable position & was hard as a rock. It also wasn't going to last. I've had my Saddle King for the past 11yrs+ - its been through hell and back - and still has survived better.

The english CC? It always felt like there was a ton of junk between me & the horse. It stained BADLY where the stirrup leathers were. No getting that out. No matter what gullet you had in the thing it rolled on every horse. Plus the seat was slick as can be. You could forget about riding it in the winter - near impossible to stay on.

Now would I try another synthetic again? For western maybe, give the other brands a shot. Overall I'm not impressed. I don't like the fake look of most of them. Now wintecs have gotten much better & cordura saddles don't look too bad either - but not my thing.
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For what it's worth, I haven't had any of these issues with my wintec, though it is the "equisuede" material. You can tell where the stirrup leathers lie, but if you brush the fabric then any marks will go away. Definitely no staining or discoloration, and I've actually found the seat to be fairly sticky. But... I've never ridden in any Wintecs other than those made of the equisuede or the much older, kind of canvasy fabric ones so I can't speak about the others. Not trying to change your mind, just pointing out that even in the brand there can be huge differences!
     
    12-23-2013, 05:56 AM
  #18
Trained
From my point of view, the bottom line..

- Leather is "traditional" and looks beautiful when well maintained.
- Synthetic is very practical.

In our collection, we've never had a problem with a couple Wintec western saddles that we have had a very long time. Among other times, I'll use a synthetic in the rain just because they require so little care after.
     
    12-23-2013, 06:08 AM
  #19
Green Broke
I have a synthetic wintec saddle and absolute love it, I use it everywhere, from pony club to bush riding, even eventing, can just wipe it clean.

I am however saving up for a leather dressage, mainly for the look as I want to do more dressage/hacking type shows and it's all about looking good.

That saddle would only be used at shows and the occasional lesson I think
     
    12-23-2013, 06:11 AM
  #20
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by unclearthur    
Bates? Kent & Masters? GFS?
As in they are leather saddles with a changeable gullet?
     

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