Try A Change: Wintec & Bates Easy Fit Solution

by Annie Penfield

I came to the Wintec dressage saddle perhaps unwillingly. Long I extolled the virtues, but I was a little resistant to a synthetic saddles. As a retailer, it had solved many a saddle-fitting dilemma for me. As a competitor, I preferred leather. Yet the more I learned and worked with the Bates and Wintec saddles, the more curious I became about how this saddle could help me. (Maybe magically improve my dressage scores!) I tried the Wintec contourbloc saddle on my horses and was so happy with how well my horses responded to the CAIR system with a greater range of motion and increased swing in their backs that I brought home a Bates Next Generation jump saddles also, and now I ride in it, eventing both my Preliminary and Training level horses in it.

Now I invite you to come into the shop and learn about the many features of this saddle.  Change the gullet and discover how it

Easy Change Fit Solution includes gullet change and riser system
Easy Change Fit Solution includes gullet change and riser system

easy it is and how useful it is to have a saddle with a range of fit for our horses that change musculature from indoor winter training to summer conditioning rides.  Discover how easy it is to insert the shims into the panels and customize the fit to your horses shape.

My horses are no easy fit. One has an extremely high wither, dip in his spine, and the twelfth rib is still near level to the wither.  The shims help with bridging and the air helps level the fit and alleviate muscle soreness.

My other horse is very thin (although tall at 17.2 hands) but very sensitive. After only twenty minutes and a few verticals, the change in my horse and myself was surprising.  I didn't even realize how tight my horse was on landing until he relaxed under the CAIR system of this saddle.  As soon as he relaxed, I was a quieter and a more secure rider.  It was obvious that the tension eased as a result of the air panels on his back.  I found that the air provided some absorption for the rider as well, much the way the springs in the front frame of a mountain bike ease the tension on the shoulder by taking up shock, the CAIR panels assist the seat in reducing impact on the rider body as well.

Come into Strafford Saddlery and change a gullet and be entered in a raffle for $100 gift certificate to Strafford Saddlery. No purchase necessary. And see for yourself all these great qualities of both the Wintec and Bates saddles:

Annie & Captain Lightfoot competing at GMHA OP in Bates Next Generation Deep Seat Jump saddle
Annie & Captain Lightfoot competing at GMHA OP in Bates Next Generation Deep Seat Jump saddle

**CAIR system: The CAIR® Cushion System replaces traditional fillings in your saddle with air cushions. CAIR® air cushion technology provides significant performance advantages in the way it distributes the rider's weight and cushions the horse's back.

Distributes the rider's weight: Under the rider's weight the air cushions continually mould to mirror the horse's individual conformation and working muscles. This ensures a close, even contact over a much larger weight bearing area and eliminates instances of pressure points.

Cushioning the horse's back: The dynamic nature of air ensures it works in synergy with the horse's muscles, rather than the horse's muscles working against a static medium. Additionally, air provides the ultimate shock absorption, reducing instances of trauma to the horse's muscles in work.

**The EASY-CHANGE™ Fit Solution is the first total saddle fitting solution that not only enables full adjustment to be made to the saddle, but empowers riders to custom fit their saddles in a matter of minutes.

Riders can select the optimal tree width for their horse's current shape and muscling with the EASY-CHANGE™ Gullet System, or make adjustments within their saddle panel for optimal balance and clearance with the EASY-CHANGE™ Riser System. Together these systems offer unparalleled scope of adjustment for a total fitting solution that's not only easy, but measurable, and completely reversible giving total confidence to be able to easily make changes to the saddle.


All Bates Saddles feature a generous panel designed to ensure a large 'footprint' on the horse's back, maximizing the weight-bearing surface of the saddle and resulting in a reduction in pressure per sq cm/inch and increased comfort for the horse. Coupled with a wide and even chamber, the performance panels support the horse's working muscles, and maximize movement in the shoulder area.
Impressed by Isabell Werth's commitment to the Wintec saddles, I decided there were benefits to riding my own horses in the lightweight synthetic saddle. Weather in Vermont is temperamental and my tight schedule offers little latitude, so synthetic was an easy care choice for bad weather and poor tack cleaning routine.  I was happy to have such a light saddle to carry down to indoor in the winter and my horse's responded well: shoulders opened, backs swung, strides adjusted quickly to my seat aid.  Why spend more when my performance would not be less?  And if the multi-medalled Isabell can ride at the World Equestrian Games in a Wintec, I think I can ride at my area dressage shows and horse trials in one.  For inspirational video of Isabel in action in her saddle:

Saddles have improved over time with innovations for better fit and a better ride.  Bates and Wintec saddles offer a range of options for a precise fit: CAIR panels that conform to the shape of your horse, shims to further tailor fit, a gullet system to adjust the head plate, and a girth point system.  Girth up your saddle and in twenty minutes, the air conforms to your horse.  Horses change depending on maturity, type of work, and fitness level.  I like how this saddle responds to those changes.  The consistent balance and the fluidity of the air will allow muscle development and keep me even to work on my position to be a more effective rider.

There are a range of saddles in the Wintec and Bates—all-purpose, close contact, and dressage. Come into Strafford Saddlery and see the selection and Try a Change.

Annie Penfield is the owner of Strafford Saddlery in South Strafford, VT. She competes two Irish Sport Horses and loves to hack out with her husband and children and large dog.

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