Synthetic Dressage Saddles
Who uses good quality synthetic saddles in Dressage competitions? Like Wintec, Bates, and Collegiate. I have personally used the Wintec, and my horse and I loved it (apparently, so did the thief).
Some people seem to think that they are only good "training saddles". Why is that? I have never competed (though hopefully next show season I will get into it), but I think the saddles are comfortable on both ends, and nice looking. What else does a show saddle need?
I currently ride in an older Thorowgood Griffin and I LOVE IT. I will definitely use it when I start showing. However, I will only be doing Intro and at smaller shows.
Cheap is as cheap does. You buy cheap, you get a cheap saddle.
IMO Bates and Wintec are designed very poorly and do not place the rider in a good position. As well they tout the "system that fits every horse" which is a complete lie. Anything that touts "one size fits all" needs to be run away from, quickly. They fit some horses OK, most horses not at all and very few horses do they fit well.
I much prefer a KN, Passier, Stubben or other good quality saddle which is designed well. It is not difficult to find a good quality used and fairly inexpensive saddle which will usually fit the horse far better than a Wintec.
Wintecs and others are good starter saddles, but IMO as soon as a person has decided to go down the path of dressage, they need to be in correct gear, and that includes a proper, well fitted saddle.
I have a Wintec Isabell and I love it. It has fit my horse well over the years, and my position is just fine in it. I have shown successfully in it, but since I never moved up in the levels showing (my choice, not the saddle's fault :P ) I guess I haven't really put it to the test.
I haven't had much experience with other synthetic dressage saddles, but I have noticed that with regards to the Isabell vs Pro debate the people who love the Isabell absolutely love it, and the people that don't love it hate it. If you're looking into getting a Wintec then sit and ride in both varieties to see which one you prefer. The deep seat of the Isabell is for some, but not for everyone.
I love the minimal amount of care that is necessary to keep it looking and working nicely. For the most part cleaning mine literally consists of wiping down the equisuede with a damp cloth and cleaning the billets. Much easier than a leather saddle! As far as appearances go, I think they look great. The equisuede looks nice and sleek, and doesn't give that plasticy look that some synthetic saddles have. I know some will disagree, but I see no reason that they would not look and perform well in the show ring. Leather is not a necessity.
i dragged my old wintec dressage saddle out of my dad's basement after having it sit down there for 12 years during my horse-less time. i like it even more than i used to. not planning on showing at all, so my 'starter' saddle works just great for me!
I show in my Wintec Isabel and love it! It's definitely NOT cheap (at least by my standards as I don't have a money tree in my yard), well built and fits both me and my horses. A friend of mine has a Wintec dressage saddle that is about 25 years old and doesn't show much weathering. So they will last and look great for a long time. I like leather too as I have 3 leather western saddles, too!
Synthetic doesn't necessarily mean poorly built or designed (or cheap). My Thorowgood puts me in the best position of any saddle I've ever ridden.
I had a Wintec Jump and it didn't put me in a good position at all, but it did not fit my horse either so that may have been the problem. If it works for the rider and horse, that is all that matters.
I will 100% agree that the "one size fits all" is BS, but I don't think that was part of the discussion.
Because people are sheep and don't investigate when they are told things by saddle companies. A newbie horse owner thinks "Oh great I'll buy this one because it will fit my horse for sure, he belongs in the subset of every horse" and then ends up screwing the horse up, getting piled, etc..
Not something I like to support with my $$. Especially not when there are so many excellent older saddles for the same or less price that fit so much better looking for homes.
I don't find a leather saddle to require much more care than a synthetic either. I've had mine for 4 years and ridden in it every day and it is still looking great. The leather in some parts is actually just starting to get well broken in. A synthetic does not hold up to that use. I've seen Wintecs used for as long and as hard with holes in the flaps.
I'm not trying to say that everyone should run out and buy a synthetic saddle, but I do think that they definitely have their benefits!
I used to ride fairly often in synthetic saddles, and had a wintec dressage saddle for a while, and I thought they worked just fine, it fit the horses and they seemed to go just fine in them, why bother with the extra cost and upkeep of a leather saddle?
I recently splurged and bought a nearly new Stubben Maestoso for a killer deal (not much more than you'd find a good synthetic for, coincidentally), and I'm sold. You couldn't pay me to go back to a synthetic saddle now!
Just like anything else, you do get what you pay for!
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