View Full Version : Lumpy Cair Paneling

Dec. 28, 2011, 11:33 AM
I recently acquired an older Bates Caprilli All Purpose. It is in LOVELY condition. Owner said the tree is 100% sound, and I am inclined to agree with her. No torque that I can see; there might be a bit of flex in the seat, but the pressure needed to MAYBE see something is quite a bit. The only thing I am unsure of is that the panels seem a bit lumpy. Normally, I would say that it's just a matter of reflocking, but this is a CAIR saddle. Could the leather just have broken in wonky from sitting on a metal rack for so long?

My horse is really comfortable in it. He went from being a sad shuffler to a full strided TB in 1 ride as soon as we switched. I'm half inclined to believe it was partially because it was so comfy for him and partially because it's a 19" and the first saddle I've ever owned that actually FITS me.

What would you do?

Dec. 28, 2011, 02:40 PM
I have the bates caprilli event. It also has creases and "lumpyness" on the panels. My instructor also has one, which she got the cair panels taken out, and reflocked with wool. I am going to do the same, because my new horse seems uncomfortable with the cair panels. I do know that they can cause weird pressure spots, but I personally havent seen this. If you and your horse seem comfortable, I would continue to use it! Good Luck!

Dec. 28, 2011, 05:59 PM
Ladybugsbw is correct. The cair panels are great in theory but just don't measure up to traditional wool flocking. It is relatively inexpensive to switch the panels out. I have a bates on consignment and am considering doing the same thing to help it sell. Good luck!

Fancy That
Dec. 28, 2011, 06:03 PM
The CAIR panels have a SIGNIFICANT amount of wool. They are not all "air".

You should take it to a saddler to re-flock what is there, or have him switch it out if you don't want CAIR.

I had a Bates Caprilli Close Contact saddle for years that I loved. My saddle fitter (who is a Master Saddler from the UK) said the panels are mostly wool, and if I wanted to change them to ALL wool, would only cost around $275?

Dec. 28, 2011, 06:17 PM
I have taken a bunch of them out, and none of them have any significant amount of wool at all. They are always lumpy where the front and back air bags overlap. I take them out and reflock with all wool all the time. It should cost you $250 ish including the delivery and re-fit on your horse.

Dec. 29, 2011, 09:12 AM
I have taken a bunch of them out, and none of them have any significant amount of wool at all. They are always lumpy where the front and back air bags overlap. I take them out and reflock with all wool all the time. It should cost you $250 ish including the delivery and re-fit on your horse.

This. And it's closer to $350 here in NC. My BO had 2 Bates un-CAIRed and was stunned when she found out how expensive it was.

Jan. 9, 2012, 03:37 PM
Every person I know of who had a CAIR saddle had the same troubles with the panels. The pressure in the air bags is seldom equal, irrespective of it's usage or the horse's back it was on. Sometimes the panels develop a slow leak!
Every person I've read on this website who had a CAIR ended up having the air panels removed and replaced with wool flocking.

Sorry to say, while the idea of 'riding on air' is a great one, in reality it just doesn't work.

Jan. 9, 2012, 03:47 PM
I have a 2009 model of the Momentum- I use this saddle every day and on more than one horse- I have not had any problems with lumps...I do plan on re-flocking it completely one day.

Jan. 9, 2012, 03:53 PM
If you search threads posted by me, you will find one I posted that has a linnk to some pictures of what is actually in those saddles, and it most certainly is not wool in any shape, form or amount.

It is 4 little bladder things made of felt and cardboard glued together and puffed up with some air. THen those four panels (two on each side) are held together with a piece of cellophane tape right under where your butt goes (nice pressure point there) and put in your saddle.
Total garbage. I have a Bates Caprilli, and I had it totally redone with wool after it wrecked my horse's back.

Jan. 9, 2012, 03:55 PM
heres a link to the thread


Jan. 9, 2012, 04:15 PM
I don't know why so many people hate CAIR panels. I merely was wondering if the lumpyness was an issue. Now that I see the paneling insides, I have a fair idea of what's happening and I think it is merely the leather bunching from the pabels being so forgiving.

My horse moves better in this saddle than he has in anything I've ever tried. He is one happy camper, so until he says otherwise it's staying!

Jan. 9, 2012, 05:34 PM
Talk to Alan at Foxhunter (http://www.foxhunter.on.ca/)(he's a certified Cair specialist), the Cair panels have adjustable shims & replaceable air bags; if you reflock a Cair panel over to wool, you void any warranty on the saddle.

Some horses love the CAIR panels, some hate them, some don't seem to care one way or another ... if you have "winter" temps, the CAIR panels take longer to warm to horse temp (compared to foam & wool panels) & may be less comfortable for the horse at the beginning of the ride.

Jan. 9, 2012, 06:05 PM
Agreed that there is not any wool really in the CAIR system, I had mine ripped out and fitter gave me back all the pieces.

The reason I hate them is because they hurt my horse and they hurt me. Hence, hatred. However, if they are working for you, you certainly don't have to hate them.

Jan. 9, 2012, 09:37 PM
I loved my saddle with CAIR panels and it worked really well for my horse until it didn't. :rolleyes:

My experience with Elliot: Homebred deadhead drafty x who had only been ridden in my Bates Event saddle since his very first ride and it fit him really well... When he was 4.5 he went from being delightful and happy to a reactive, tense, spooky mess that was so sucked behind my leg.

Had my vet out to look at him to see if there was anything physical and after she checked him out and gave him a clean bill of health she asked to look at my saddle. She felt the underside of it and said she didn't like how the panels felt- she didn't like the lumpiness. She suggested I get a saddle fitter's opinion. Called a saddle fitter and in the few days before our appointment I clipped him and discovered white spots on his back right near where the center of the saddle would be. When the saddle fitter came out she said the saddle fit beautifully and told me she didn't think his behavior was b/c of the saddle. She had me ride in my Bates with CAIR and saw the sulky, stuck, bucky and nervous horse that I'd been experiencing. She had me ride in her Wintec dressage w/o CAIR and she saw a happy horse that was agreeable, mentally settled, and willing to go forward from a light leg. She said she couldn't believe it b/c my saddle appeared to have been custom made for him but he obviously was not liking the way the panels felt.

She replaced the CAIR panels, which btw, look like something MacGyver rigged up in a pinch, and I had my happy sweet horse back. As an added benefit I felt like the saddle was more forgiving and had less bounce than before.

YMMV but I won't ever allow one of my horses to have a CAIR panel saddle on again. I had used this saddle on lots of horses for five years before Elliot's ordeal and no one else had ever objected but I was really lucky he was salvageable, it could have wrecked his back. :no:

Jan. 9, 2012, 11:57 PM
I have a Wintec 2000 A/P w/ Cair, love it, have never experienced any lumpiness, have had 3 different saddle fitters out over the course of two years and they all say it fits perfectly. If its working for you keep it up until it isn't. Good luck :)