Bates Saddles - your opinions please

tigger01

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I am struggling to find a close contact saddle which is long enough to accommodate my long thighs (!!) - the joys of having long legs! I have the add problem that I ride a 15.1 show cob so am looking for something which suits him as well as me, esp for hunting. I tried a Bates jumping saddle last week and found it very comfortable for me and my boy seemed happy in it too. So I was wondering what everyone's opinions are of these - the one I tried is fitted with Cair and the adjustable gullet system. It goes without saying that the saddle would be properly fitted for me and him but having spent a little while looking for something which may suit the both of us, I'm interested on what people think of them. Thank you!!
 

Jo1987

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As far as I can tell and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, they're just expensive Wintecs?
Wintecs are not great for wider horses/cobs so I'd say probably not the most suitable if the Bates saddles are built on the same tree.
 

Tnavas

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Bates make the Wintec synthetic but their leather saddles are really lovely, well made and hard wearing.

I used to buy their GP saddles for the school horses and ponies as they fitted each so well.with their adjustable gullet it was really easy to accomodate different horses.

I have a Clydesdale and my Bates has a wide gullet in it to accomodate her broad back. It fits brilliantly
 
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I have a Bates close contact jump with Cair and I love it! My horse is half Arab so has quite a wide back and this saddle fits him very well. I also have stupidly long legs but my 17.5 inch saddle seems to hold them really well and you can move the knee blocks! Also it is super comfy, everyone who has ridden it it loves it!
 

Tiarella

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Never actually known one to fit a horse well. I bought one after my saddle fitter said 'it'll be the only saddle that fits my horse' - it was atrocious fit. After waiting weeks and nearly a court case I got my money back. They're horrible, cheap looking and just an awful fit on everything I've seen! I also have very long thighs and couldn't fit in the GP saddle very well at all. They're just not a horses back shape.

That's my opinion anyway - sure others will say they're great haha
 

3OldPonies

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I ride my friends maxi cob in a Bates GP. It has cair and is adjustable and we use it with a sheepskin half pad underneath, though whether that is for fit or aesthetics I have no idea as she just tells me what tack to put on him! It does seem to suit him though and he is very wide. For me it is comfy enough apart from the fact that the seat is too big for me and I slide around in canter and bounce a bit in sitting trot. But at least me and the owner can both use it! The leather seems pretty substantial and hard wearing and I would consider buyong one myself if I were in the market for a new horse and needed a saddle.
 

Kezzabell2

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I love mine. But and this is a really big but. It doesn't fit my horse very well

I've had it fitted by 3 different fitters and they can't get it to sit flat at the back

After weeks of hassling wintec they are sending a rep out to meet me and my fitter On Monday

The problem I seem to have is saddle fitters don't like cair they want to remove and flock the saddle so because they dont like it. They've never invested any time in learning how to fit them correctly, which I am told is different

I have no faith in my local approved fitter so I'm hoping the rep can make it fit. She sounded knowledgeable. Fingers xd

I do find it comfy but wouldn't buy another, at the moment

Hope that helps
 

Batgirl

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Mine fitted really poorly, it caused HUGE damage to my horses back. They are not one size fits all, they should not be fitted to flat backs as they are on a curved tree so will always rock. Something with a wither but broad shoulders they will pinch.

Whatever adjustable saddle you use, remember to check the screws regularly!( I wasn't told this by my 'reputable' fitter) Mine came undone.

That said I was happy with the quality, just not the fit.
 

Kezzabell2

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Mine fitted really poorly, it caused HUGE damage to my horses back. They are not one size fits all, they should not be fitted to flat backs as they are on a curved tree so will always rock. Something with a wither but broad shoulders they will pinch.

Whatever adjustable saddle you use, remember to check the screws regularly!( I wasn't told this by my 'reputable' fitter) Mine came undone.

That said I was happy with the quality, just not the fit.
That's interesting my horse has a high ish wither and big shoulders and the saddle is lift at the back for him. I'm currently really gutted that I've spent a grand on an ill fitting saddle. As ill never have that sort of money spare again :(
 

xgemmax

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I love mine. But and this is a really big but. It doesn't fit my horse very well

I've had it fitted by 3 different fitters and they can't get it to sit flat at the back

After weeks of hassling wintec they are sending a rep out to meet me and my fitter On Monday

The problem I seem to have is saddle fitters don't like cair they want to remove and flock the saddle so because they dont like it. They've never invested any time in learning how to fit them correctly, which I am told is different

I have no faith in my local approved fitter so I'm hoping the rep can make it fit. She sounded knowledgeable. Fingers xd

I do find it comfy but wouldn't buy another, at the moment

Hope that helps
I am also having this problem with mine! Would be interested to hear whether they manage to sort it :)
 

Kezzabell2

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I am also having this problem with mine! Would be interested to hear whether they manage to sort it :)
If you pm ill update you on Monday

My saddle fitter had to make a massive fuss. She has told them they've sold me an unsuitable saddle and they should refund me. So think that's why they are coming
 

dibbin

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I've had a Bates VSD (with Cair) on Jazz since October. It makes me feel very secure and he's been really happy in it. It was bought brand new, the saddler came out with a few to try and then came out again with mine to make sure all was still ok.

It's a beautiful saddle and lovely to ride in.
 

silv

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Very common saddle here, within all disciplines. Cannot ever remember hearing complaints about their fit. I do think though that the advertising does promote the fact that they fit any horse due to the interchangeable gullet but it is not true due to the shape of the tree. The most recent models can have inserts easily added into the panels. Personally am on my 3rd bates saddle (dressage) and am perfectly happy with it as is my horse. I would say however that the quality of the leather they use is not as good as it was a few years ago, my saddler who is a Bates stockist/fitter agrees with this also.
 

Tnavas

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Very common saddle here, within all disciplines. Cannot ever remember hearing complaints about their fit. I do think though that the advertising does promote the fact that they fit any horse due to the interchangeable gullet but it is not true due to the shape of the tree. The most recent models can have inserts easily added into the panels. Personally am on my 3rd bates saddle (dressage) and am perfectly happy with it as is my horse. I would say however that the quality of the leather they use is not as good as it was a few years ago, my saddler who is a Bates stockist/fitter agrees with this also.
Hi fellow Kiwi! Agree with you, love their saddles, had as many school horses in them as possible as they placed rider beautifully and fitted well.

My current one is over 20 years old, is wool flocked and fits my Clydesdale like a second skin.

Personally I dont like the silver leather keeper on the modern one, very tacky, it now has bling set in it!!!!

At one time I had three, a GP for general riding, hacking out etc, a Caprilli Dressage and a close contact Caprilli jumping saddle. Loved them to bits.

I don't use numnahs under my saddles, I find in general all saddles fit better without saddle blankets and numnahs.
 

sbloom

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When they go wrong they go wrong in the same way - the tree is curvy from front to back, relatively speaking, so won't work well for flat backs, plus the shape of the tree at the stirrup bars, when going from side to side, is too much of an upright upside down U, instead of being a wider flatter shape like \_/ (though in reality wider and flatter than that for most horses). They will lift at the back and/or slip to the side because they're perched on the "rail" edge through the middle.
 

Kezzabell2

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I am also having this problem with mine! Would be interested to hear whether they manage to sort it :)
Hiya,

I had the bates rep out this morning, was probably the best fitting I've had today! out of the 4 fitters I've had out, she was with me for 2 hours, made quite a few adjustments, including changing my stirrup length and adjusting the knee rolls!

My horse felt so different afterwards, I was no longer feeling like I was being tipped forward and the saddle is now sitting nicely at the back.

Defo goes to show that the fitting of these saddles is very different for that of a flocked saddle and finding the right fitter that has actually done the training is the way forward!
 

irishdraft

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I have a bates vsd with cair on my ID who is short backed,wide & fairly flat backed it hasn't caused a problem & is comfortable to ride in
 

st5050

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I had a very bad experience with a CAIR Bates (similar to Batgirl's experience) on narrow flat back TB.....be careful esp with the CAIR system. It was an expensive mistake but I learned from it BIG TIME. Don't take risks with your horse's back.
 

ester

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I do think they are perhaps made to fit the majority of horses in Aus and aren't really made to fit our native and cob types. I don't like the kink that are in their gullet bars either though.
 

NaeNae87

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I have a Bates Elevation (and an Isabell) both CAIR. Both fit my TB fantastically.

I agree with ester though, we don't have a lot of your native/cob types here. The majority have quite a bit of TB influence and tend to be a lot lighter than the horses you guys have in the UK and Europe.
 

Tnavas

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My Bates Olympia has been on several different TB's, cobs, ponies and now my Clydesdale, with different gullet plates.

I used to buy them for the riding school and I had a wide range of types, from Welsh, English Riding Ponies, cobs, TB's and warm bloods. Never had a problem with the fit on any of them.

Ester, bit lost as to what you mean by a kink in the gullet bars, can you describe more clearly please?
 

sbloom

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The gullet plate does not have one angle but two, a narrower angle from the top to about a third of the way down, then a wider angle below that, my belief is that it has been designed this way to give more clearance at the pommel than might otherwise be achieved. I find there is usually a slight increase in pressure along the top edge of the panel which aligns with this "kink". Here's a video from my fellow saddle fitter from across the pond that illustrates this problem very well:

http://saddlefitter.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/changeable-gullets-details.html
 

Tnavas

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F
The gullet plate does not have one angle but two, a narrower angle from the top to about a third of the way down, then a wider angle below that, my belief is that it has been designed this way to give more clearance at the pommel than might otherwise be achieved. I find there is usually a slight increase in pressure along the top edge of the panel which aligns with this "kink". Here's a video from my fellow saddle fitter from across the pond that illustrates this problem very well:

http://saddlefitter.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/changeable-gullets-details.html
I'd reply to this is look at the shape of the horses back, behind the wither, it doesn't go straight down from the wither but flares out, which to me is why the Bates gullet plate has a slight bend outwards.
 

Cortez

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I've had a Bates Caprilli dressage for more than 20 years and it has fitted the lighter type of horse very well. Doesn't fit my current horses though (wide PRE's). Don't like Wintecs at all, but the Bates is a well-made saddle that fits some horses very nicely.
 

ester

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I'd reply to this is look at the shape of the horses back, behind the wither, it doesn't go straight down from the wither but flares out, which to me is why the Bates gullet plate has a slight bend outwards.
I've only ever read things from saddle fitters suggesting they are a possible issue rather than the other way round.

I'm amazed that all of yours need the same curved tree Tnavas perhaps all horses are more bendy over there ;). I think they are probably great for some and that in the UK we are perhaps meaner on them than we should be just due to horse type.
 

LA&Murph

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I have one and I love it. It is a second hand Caprilli GP and was the only one that my saddler brought that she thought fit well enough for me even to ride in. I have a standardbred and he's a narrow fit, but the Bates sits nicely on his back, doesn't move or rise at the back which quite a few others were doing without him moving much, and has far exceeded my expectations as I'd had no experience of them before (except knowing that a Wintec fitted him).

I also got lucky in that it was 9 years old but completely immaculate and came with almost all gullet plates except the narrow which I needed. The previous owner prepared herself for everything! I think with Bates is that if they fit, then you'll have no regrets. You'll always have people that have had bad experiences who you should also listen to - their experience may prevent you having the same issues.
 

sbloom

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I'd reply to this is look at the shape of the horses back, behind the wither, it doesn't go straight down from the wither but flares out, which to me is why the Bates gullet plate has a slight bend outwards.
Acutally many saddle fitters believe, me included, that almost all concave wither tracings show some evidence of muscle loss. Most horses I fit have straight or even convex profiles. No-one wants their horse to be concave, they want that area filled with muscle. Higher withered horses are more likely to be naturally very slightly concave there, but flocking is usually enough to fill that out. Even if all horses were concave, that one shape of wither bar is not going to suit all of them, the kink will be too high or too low. It will work fine on some horses who have that sort of shape, and on whom the panel attachment points are correct, on the majority it will give too much pressure along the top of the panel.

No one saddle will work for all shapes and sizes, that goes without saying. Where I have an issue is where one model of saddle, when it goes wrong/doesn't fit etc, nearly always has the same issues. I consider that a design defect.
 
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