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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #8
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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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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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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I doubt it. I know they haven't at my level--and when there are a lot of horses in a class, judges won't be looking at your saddle.

As long as you and your horse are well turned out, you'll do fine. I have ROMs on my Paint gelding and tons of ribbons--all in a synthetic saddle, a 20 dollar bridle, a helmet (instead of a hunt cap like every other rider)--Judges don't have time to look at these things. You just have to make sure everything fits, and you and your horse perform well.
 

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i hate synthetic saddles ! ive ridden in a ton of them & have never liked one. personally, it doesnt make sense to me why so many people love them, but thats just me. i love my leather saddles, i think they look nice & feel nice. i would never replace one with a synthetic saddle.
 

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IMO it depends on the price tag.. Typically I find synthetics to be a better value for the price. They are typically cheaper and more comfortable to comparable leather saddles. However a good quality leather saddle beats synthetic every time. Nothing beats a Butet or Deavocouex (sp?)
 

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^ thats the great thing about buying a used saddle, you can get something thats high quality leather for less
 

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I personaly like leather over synthetic. I feel like im about to come out of the saddle alot in a wintec, and also it takes a lot of riding for them to feel broken in. I had mine for about a year, and I rode in it once or twice a week and I ended up selling it because it was still hard and uncomfortable. I agree that its alot easier to clean and hauk around, but if you want quality, I suggest going to a consinment tack shop and looking for a used leather saddle. But like people before have said, it really is a person preference. :)
 

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I LOVE my Wintec synthetic western saddle! It is WAY better then my sisters leather one! My synthetic saddle is sooo much more comfortable then the leather one, it's lighter and easier to clean! I just use a wet towel to clean it and I heard that synthetic ones are longer lasting ( I only had mine for 2 years and it looks like I just bought it!) And that their cheaper too!
 

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I think it has a lot to do with indv rider and indv horse. I have ridden in leather and wintecs over the last 8 years. Recently I was leasing a horse and used her Wintec Isabell and it was SO comfortable. I then purchased a horse in Dec, bought my own Wintec Isabell and found even with changing gullets it didnt fit my horse as well and I didn't feel secure in the saddle at all (also tried Wintec Pro on her). Ended up with a heavy (not crazy about how heavy this saddle is) used leather saddle (cost more then my new wintec isabell) that felt so comfortable I was giddy with comfort - and it fit my horse better.

I like the lightweight, stickness and ease of cleanup in a synthetic, but for me, it just wasn't the perfect fit for my horse, even with an easy change gullet system. I would purchase a used leather saddle over a new one again due to resale value (think buying new or used car values) and because it's already been broken in.

Also when you buy used anything, you often can try it out for a week - but when you buy new, no matter what you do, it's not new anymore (girth marks on billets) so it's nearly impossible to return.
 
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