Synthetic VS. Leather - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 02-03-2010, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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Synthetic VS. Leather

Since I am getting a new horse I also need a new saddle. I am wondering if leather or synthetic is better for the horse and rider.

My friend has a synthetic and leather saddle for sale and I'm not sure which one I want (of course I'm going to make sure they fit her before I jump into the sale).

I'm leaning more toward the synthetic but I want to know the pros and cons of both saddles.

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post #2 of 17 Old 02-03-2010, 11:59 PM
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post #3 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 12:55 AM
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I'm gonna assume from your picture we're talking about english saddles?
With that said, I would really prefer synthetic. I have a Wintec with CAIR and the easychange gullet system and I just love it. It's comfortable for me (though supposedly there are some people who find them uncomfortable so that really depends on the person) and my horse and fits him great. Because of the easychange system I can change the gullets to fit different horses if necessary, but it's a very sturdy system and doesn't compromise the construction at all.
The synthetic that Wintec uses is really great stuff. It's very very durable and stays looking new for years, and it also breaks in really nicely.
My opinion is that synthetic is a great option now that it is as tough as it is, because it's affordable and so much easier to clean and also more lightweight than leather options.
But there are also plenty of people who are very traditional about it and prefer the look and feel of leather equipment, so it's sort of a matter of preference.

No matter which way you go, just make sure that you have the right fit for both you and your horse and that you are both comfortable in it, and you're good to go. =)
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post #4 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 01:25 AM
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I think it depends a lot on what you'll be using it for. We only ride on trails and we don't care about looking flashing at shows or anything like that. I bought a nice leather endurance saddle when I got my horse. Hubby bought a cheap, used leather saddle, just to get by. Now after seeing me with mine and our neighbor with his synthetic, hubby is buying a synthetic. We ride in all sorts of conditions and get pretty dirty. He won't have to spend a lot of time cleaning it and they are so much lighter (though mine isn't too bad). If I had it to do over again, I'd probably go synthetic too. As it is I never use my matching leather tack, instead I use nylon. Of course my saddle is really comfy, so I'm happy with it. I'd ultimately make your decision based on which one fits the horse better and is more comfy for you.

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post #5 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 01:49 AM
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Most people prefer leather. New leather tack can be a bit costly (very worthwhile for those that have the money although) so it is better to buy it used for more of a deal. Leather has a better stick to it and is usually more accepted in shows. A lot of people also like the feel of soft leather over synthetic material.

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post #6 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 12:48 PM
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I have two saddles, the leather I use for showing and the Wintec synthetic I use most of the time for schooling and fun. I LOVE my Wintec saddle. I got it for my horse when he was 3 and because of the easy change system it was able to grow with him and when I ride other horses I can change the size. I think it has great stick. Whatever the stuff is they use on it has a very light pebbling texture to it so I think that helps with the stick issue. My friend is always worried about caring for her nice leather saddle but I can ride threw mud and water and not be concerned cuz it all just wipes off with a towel ;)

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post #7 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 03:55 PM
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Just wanted to add that I've shown in pleasure classes in my wintec for years... didn't stop me from becoming class champion in my class at my regional show... ;)

I finally got my leather 'show' saddle (a bates, the leather version of a wintec) and I love them both.

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post #8 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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the wintec she has is really nice and I love synthetic because they are lighter and they are low maintenance. I've rode in a synthetic but I also like leather but I think synthetic is more comfortable and probably better for the horse's back. I want to show in this saddle but would the judges look down on synthetic? To be honest I don't see why they would.

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post #9 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 05:15 PM
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I do saddle fitting - and have a holistic vet and equine massage therapist that work on my horse's backs. In general, we've found that leather skirting on a Western saddle (I know NOTHING about English) is better for the horse's back since it provides that added structure out beyond the saddle tree- giving just enough extra support that (as long as it fits correctly) keeps a horse more comfortable than the softer cordura skirting.

However, I personally LOVE cordura fenders and have them put on my leather saddle. They make the overall weight lighter (usually by about 7-8 lbs). They take no "breaking in" time, are soft - so they twist easily and give you a nice close contact with your horse. They are awesome for someone like me who has bad knees and lower back issues. With leather fenders, no matter how well broken in, my knees always hurt after a couple of hours of riding and I'm constantly taking my feet out of the stirrups to stretch. With the cordura fenders, you can move them easily...and I can ride for 6 hours with no issues. After 6 hours on the trail, other things start getting sore....: )
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post #10 of 17 Old 02-04-2010, 06:12 PM
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I would think that they would be about equal as far as how they are on a horse's back..where it would depend on the quality and design of the saddle much more than what the saddle is made of.

From what I've gathered, whether or not the judges look down on a synthetic saddle would depend on what level you're showing at. At lower levels the judges wouldn't care about it, but at the higher levels they would.
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