Are Bates saddles really all that bad?

spacefaer

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I've got a Bates Caprilli on my no-wither, flat backed RID. Fits him brilliantly. Very comfortable too. It was 2nd hand and £300.
My wintec doesnt go anywhere near him , even with the same gullet in as it has a much curvier tree. It's a very similar fit to my older stubben Siegfried (I use both interchangeably on the same horses)
I discussed the Bates with my traditional Walsall trained saddler only a couple of weeks ago. He said they were perfectly good enough for what they were.
 

I'm Dun

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No, the newer versions are very flat. I have tried both a caprilli CC prior to 2009 and one after (made 2019). They fit VERY differently.
The trees used havent changed. The only difference is the HART system of newer CAIR and shims
 

Alibear

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So, in summary, saddles are only bad if they don't fit you and your horse. If they fit, then they're good ;) Sorry, I'm having a bit of a sassy day.
I have had a bates saddle in the past, and it was fine; it was beneficial on a horse that kept changing shape every few months. I say fine as I personally didn't find it that secure for me.
 

Elno

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The trees used havent changed. The only difference is the HART system of newer CAIR and shims
The HART system is only a rebranding of Cair, not so much more, I have confirmed this with a licensed Bates/Wintec rep. The Caprilli I have from 2019 is not a HART, but CAIR since HART came 2020 or thereabouts, and it also has pockets for shims, or how Bates like to call it- Easy change fit solution or something. 🙄

Saddles made prior to 2009 were indeed banana shaped, the ones after- not so. Like I said, I've tried two caprilli CC saddles from different dates with the same gullet width on my horse and they fit very differently. I have had a spanking brand new Wintec pro dressage HART also, really didn't like it myself , but my horse did and it was even flatter than my Albion and actually too flat for my horse.
 

Elno

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So, in summary, saddles are only bad if they don't fit you and your horse. If they fit, then they're good ;) Sorry, I'm having a bit of a sassy day.
I have had a bates saddle in the past, and it was fine; it was beneficial on a horse that kept changing shape every few months. I say fine as I personally didn't find it that secure for me.
Pretty much spot on yes 😁 But I really was interested in peoples opinions because everything I managed to dig up on Bates said they are horrible (and they happen to fit my mare really well and she seems to like Cair, so in her case they truly do fit! ) so I was feeling a bit discouraged dishing out a small fortune on a saddle that would ultimately break her back.
 

Bonnie Allie

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Bates are an ok saddle but they are mass produced offshore. In the UK you are so lucky to have amazing locally made saddles from high quality materials, fitted by experienced knowledgeable saddle fitters. Is there anything made in the UK for that pricing that would be a good alternative?
 

Elno

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Bates are an ok saddle but they are mass produced offshore. In the UK you are so lucky to have amazing locally made saddles from high quality materials, fitted by experienced knowledgeable saddle fitters. Is there anything made in the UK for that pricing that would be a good alternative?
Unfortunately I live in Sweden. We have some of Thorowgoods models, not K&M though. You can, if you 're really lucky buy a used (often ancient) Ideal/Crown or other brands of english saddles but they are far and few in between. We do though have good saddle fitters in our country as well.
 

Alibear

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Pretty much spot on yes 😁 But I really was interested in peoples opinions because everything I managed to dig up on Bates said they are horrible (and they happen to fit my mare really well and she seems to like Cair, so in her case they truly do fit! ) so I was feeling a bit discouraged dishing out a small fortune on a saddle that would ultimately break her back.
I'm right there with you, I was told so many horror stories when I got one. It worked for the situation I was in, unfortunately, the rehab didn't work and the horse was retired, so not a long term user, sold it on OK though. But that was ooh back in 2008?
 

sbloom

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I think one of the issues with air is people pump them too full and then it's rock hard. You can I think replace the air with flocking though. Personally, for that money there are other saddles on the market that go to xxw but if it fits you and your horse I wouldn't be against the idea of one
As already said, that's Flair, Cair isn't adjustable.

I've had them in the past and had no problem with them. They don't fit every horse, though, as I recollect the tree was rather flat and that doesn't suit every horse even if you do adjust the gullet plate size.
.
I have heard this, and from saddle fitters, but to me they're not especially flat, the "rails" (you don't get real rails on a plastic tree) aren't flat or wide. The flattest thing is the panels ie triangular rear gussets that push out behind the saddle, designed to balance the tree, usually on a horse with a wither without much curve to the lumbar area.

No, the newer versions are very flat. I have tried both a caprilli CC prior to 2009 and one after (made 2019). They fit VERY differently.
The right hand saddle in your post has a different panel, the tree looks the same and someone else has commented that the tree is the same, I don't fit them so can't be sure but those rear gussets are larger, longer, flatter.

See also this https://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/2011/09/changeable-gullets-details.html, sadly some of the photos seem to be no longer available, and I lay claim to be the saddle fitter quoted towards the bottom!
 

Slightlyconfused

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I've had them in the past and had no problem with them. They don't fit every horse, though, as I recollect the tree was rather flat and that doesn't suit every horse even if you do adjust the gullet plate size.
.

Basically this.

I've had a few, they don't fit all horses but some they do perfectly.

My sisters tb had the bates dr, was one of the only saddles that stayed still with his huge shoulders pushing every saddle back. It was comfy and just lovely to ride in.

Non of mine have been bothered by the cair. My current one was backed in the wintec wide and now has a wow. Not much difference in his ridden work between the two apart from the half panel of the wow giving his shoulder more room.
 

freckles22uk

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I used to have a bates for my mare, fitted her well and I loved it, sadly it didn’t fit her son when he needed a saddle and I was gutted to sell it as she had passed away.
 

lynz88

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I rode in a Bates CC ages ago and I quite liked it even though it didn't quite fit my leg properly. It was great for horses with a big shoulder like mine. It was an older model though so wasn't CAIR. I have ridden in CAIR saddles and have no complaints although I have heard (at least years ago when they first came out onto the market) that some horses don't find them particularly comfortable as they are harder. No idea if this is still the case. I eventually traded the Bates for an Amerigo DJ CC which felt very similar (and it didn't lock me in either) and now ride in a CWD (I think it is the medium deep seat as it keeps me secure if my horse does some interesting moves but doesn't lock me in).
 

onemoretime

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Poppy Webber the saddle fitter has done a few videos comparing the old Cair with the new version and it does seem different. I would consider one with the newer system but not an old Cair saddle. the other thing to be really vigilant over is that the air bags can deflate.
I think on the old wintec she took apart 3 out of the 4 had burst.

I have used several Flair saddles in the past and am very happy with those, it's easy to check the bags yourself with Wow saddles.
Agree with this. I had a Bates dressage saddle a few years back now and the air bag gradually deflated over a period of time. I didn't notice as first until the horse kept bucking on a right had turn, when I examined the saddle the right air bag had gone down. This was about 9 years ago now. I would not have another Bates saddle. I have an Andrea Hicks VSD for my wide at the withers big shouldered, flat backed mare who is WB x ISH and love it. Was not over priced I didn't feel at £1,850 and the quality of the leather is very good.
 

Vodkagirly

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(Not Wintecs, but Bates specifically)

Having a youngster, as fun as it can be, comes with it's own set of problems. They grow and change shape, and suddently the saddle you had simple doesn't fit anymore. Had an Albion K2 Legend MW professionally fitted a while back. LOVED the saddle until my mare grew out of it and became an x wide (104 degrees over the wither). Bought a Thorowgood T8 dressage which fitted so and so but at least the horse didn't complain and also rode a lot bareback. This was just an interim solution though and I'm still in search of a good saddle that she hopefully might be able to have longer than 3 months 😒

At the sales yard last year she was ridden in a fairly new Bates Caprilli CC (the new, post 2009 version) and seemed happy with the Cair and it actually fitted her beautifully then with the wide (red) gullet in.

Now, with all that in mind I've been thinking of buying a Bates for her, but probably the Bates wide this time since she is basically identical in built as an overgrown connemara - low, wide withers, pretty flat broad back. I have tried the saddle (a friends Bates wide all round I think) on her and it fits, and she seem happy.

But do I dare buy one for £1200?! 😳 Because if you spend some time reading up on Bates (and Wintecs obviously) you quickly realise that people are not particulairly fond of them? People say they don't fit, that the Cair ruins their horses backs and that the changeable gullets are designed in a way that puts pressure on the withers.

So my question basically is: Does anyone actually have a Bates and like them? Are they really that bad? They seem like well made saddles and my horse seem to like and fit in them, but I would HATE her to develop a sore back.
I have a bates caprilli gp, as gp's go its a nice saddle. Deep seat and reasonable knee rolls. I did have a bit of an issue when a middle airbag deflated. Changed it to flock after. Used it for 3 years before I upgraded as it's hard to get stirrups short for jumping.
I prefer jump/dressage saddles but I use it when my horse puts on weight.
 

dreamcometrue

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I’ve had my Bates saddle over 6 years. It’s a great fit for both me and my pony. I don’t know why you think they are bad OP. I have several friends who have Bates saddles for their horses and all really like them.
 

Elno

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I’ve had my Bates saddle over 6 years. It’s a great fit for both me and my pony. I don’t know why you think they are bad OP. I have several friends who have Bates saddles for their horses and all really like them.
I personally don't think they are bad at all! In fact I'm pretty much in love with my Bates Caprilli CC which currently fits my horse well 😁 I'm just kind of perplexed reading about all the hate they seem to get, and began to feel a bit nervous since I plan to buy a Bates Wide for her as probable next saddle if she decides to broaden some more.
 
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I had a bates wide. It was really good on my little cob, was great that it was adjustable as he was only young.
I suppose they're like anything, your either like them or hate them, they either suit your horse or don't.
I certainly really liked mine and it was comfortable too 😊
 
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I had a bates wide. It was really good on my little cob, was great that it was adjustable as he was only young.
I suppose they're like anything, your either like them or hate them, they either suit your horse or don't.
I certainly really liked mine and it was comfortable too 😊

Just to add to my above, my saddle is for sale at Sheepham (they will send it to you should be on the website) if an 18inch would suit 😊
 

DonskiWA

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I’ve been though SO many saddles - low, medium, high end. I used to steer away from Bates during my snobby phase, but I’m LOVING my Artiste and my Advantage eventing saddles. I tried SO many, but these are the bomb as far as me and my WB are concerned.
 

sbloom

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The kink in the gullet is a worry

What’s your view of the cair system Steph?
I don't have an educated view as it were, as I don't deal with them. I think there are downsides to air full stop for some horses, or some riders, or both (and there was some research on this recently I'm sure but I bet I can't find it if I look) but Flair is generally better than Cair because the air itself is adjustable, aside from any other issues. You see a LOT of Cair saddles converted to flock and I see quite a lot of negative comments from fitters about Cair. However I will say I have a friend in Oz who works closely with the company and she has no issues with it, so I think it depends on training and the personal approach to fitting of each fitter. Find someone who truly knows and loves it and you may be better off than with a generalist fitter.
 
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Branna

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I have a Bates Caprilli jump & a Bates Caprilli Dressage for 10 and 9 years respectively, both bought second hand so imagine both are pre-2009 models. Had the jump converted to flocking some time ago as my saddle fitter recommended to, but still have cair in the dressage. I use it with a sheepskin half pad anyway as recommended by saddle fitter.

I bought them when horse was 4 or 5 as a temporary while she was changing shape but actually despite trying various other models over the years have stuck with them as I haven't found an alternative that was within budget and fitted me and her well (I need a narrow twist).

We have competed BE100, Ad Med Dressage, done all RC activities and she has never had a day with a sore back in 10 years.

Many of my friends converted to WOW a few years ago, and who knows, maybe if I did that I would find out my mare has another level of freedom and movement I never knew she had.. but I doubt it! I stuck with 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' ;)
 

Elno

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I have a Bates Caprilli jump & a Bates Caprilli Dressage for 10 and 9 years respectively, both bought second hand so imagine both are pre-2009 models. Had the jump converted to flocking some time ago as my saddle fitter recommended to, but still have cair in the dressage. I use it with a sheepskin half pad anyway as recommended by saddle fitter.

I bought them when horse was 4 or 5 as a temporary while she was changing shape but actually despite trying various other models over the years have stuck with them as I haven't found an alternative that was within budget and fitted me and her well (I need a narrow twist).

We have competed BE100, Ad Med Dressage, done all RC activities and she has never had a day with a sore back in 10 years.

Many of my friends converted to WOW a few years ago, and who knows, maybe if I did that I would find out my mare has another level of freedom and movement I never knew she had.. but I doubt it! I stuck with 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' ;)
That's just awesome! 😁

I just had a Bates fitter out and apparently a Bates wide will not suit my mare, as she most probably will go down, rather than up in gullet bar size because of "baby fat" over her wither and the fact that her back is not flat/broad enough for that model. The good news are that the current saddle she has (Bates Caprilli CC) fits 😁
 
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