My new mare, arriving in a few weeks, of course takes an entirely different saddle. She is wide. She's only 15.3, but she's wide, not even marginally a medium. She's not a meatloaf without withers, but she's well sprung. Very deep-bodied girl. So obviously, along with the new horse, I need new tack.
I had a Wintec once, liked it very well. Not adjustable, though. I sold it right after I hurt my hands, when I was obviously going to be down for the count for many months and also had the medical bills. So I'm looking at maybe another Wintec, and maybe going adjustable to avoid this problem in the future. (Yeah, right. Any new horse will obviously necessitate purchase of [I]something[I].) But maybe I can at least avoid the new-horse jinx and also adjust my new saddle next year to fit the Silver 2-Year-Old-To-Be when I introduce him to tack. Maybe, since I already have him, he doesn't count.
She was going mainly in a very high-priced treeless, one of the upper brands. Not yet in my stratosphere. I am dealing in terms of hundreds, not thousands, for a saddle. She also, however, went in a wide treed saddle on part of the video, which consisted of 45 minutes, 4 segments, and tack and rider changes, and she looked exactly the same both ways. A few of the riders would get her annoyed with errors, but she wasn't more annoyed treed than treeless, nor was her movement less free.
So how do the adjustable Wintecs work? Do they truly adjust?
Do a forum search on "Easy change gullet system" and choose the "show posts" option--it's been discussed many times. The short version is that if you plan to adjust this gullet with any regularity, by yourself, with a hand injury, you should consider the pros and cons very seriously.
Agree with Jn4Jenny about the gullet -- when I had a Wintec it took me about 15 minutes to change a gullet plate and was not something I wanted to do every day. That was a few years ago, maybe the design has gotten easier.
Also, while the gullet is adjustable, the panels obviously are not. In my experience the panels aren't shaped to fit a flat wide back. So a Wintec may work for a horse who needs a wide gullet, but it depends on the overall shape of the horse, not just the need for a wide gullet.
I do like Wintecs -- good saddles for the money if they fit the horse.
Well, I had two of the Wintec saddles, both with CAIR and both with the "Easy Change" gullet system. I would not say it's "easy" and for me required two people and took about 10 minutes.
But beware the "wide" aspect. Even with the widest gullet the endurance AND dressage model left white hairs on my mare's shoulder. After speaking with a saddle fitter, she said that the Wintec gullets are in a "V" shape (which is true), and some horses are so wide they really need a "U" shaped tree.
Too bad for me, because I really liked the saddles otherwise and they are good value for the price.
But you don't want to be changing the gullet for each horse every day...THAT would be a PITA.
Just because she went o.k. for 45 minutes in the video does not mean the saddle will work. You need to ride in it for a week or so (if possible). I have found some saddles that seem to work at first, begin to bother the horse after a few days.
I ride in a wintec. It is not my first choice and I would GLADLY buy a nicer more expensive saddle. Unfortunately, my horse likes the wintec. It fits her and she goes better in it than other more traditional wool flocked saddles.
Is there someone who has a wintec you can borrow for a week or so? It is a good choice in your price range, you just need to be sure it works before you buy one (they do keep a pretty good resale though).
I actually changed my gullet last week and I remember muttering under my breath, "there in NOTHING easy about the easy change gullet system. It should be called the "cheaper than a new saddle but still a pain in the a$$ change gullet system""
Last edited by Liz; Dec. 25, 2008 at 11:20 AM.
It wasn't just in the video; she has been being ridden by a few different riders, switching back and forth constantly, for the last few months. One of them has a $$$$ treeless, another has a treed saddle. She is okay with the switch. She's a selective diva, odd in what ticks her off and what doesn't. Not quite correct leg cues annoy her. Unsteady hands don't. She has worn extensively a few different saddles, and that was okay.
Good point about the gullet change, though. I'll see if I can find one to borrow and test switch. My right hand still isn't 100%. I'll also look up the old threads.
I do not have personal experience with Wintecs because when I was saddle shopping, they did not offer a truly wide hooped shaped tree and ample channel -- and I am not a fan of synthetics, so they were never "on the table" for me.
I would agree with what some of the other posters have said and what I understand from my fitter, friends, and from reading various forums... that the normal Wintecs are V shaped and while you are changing the gullet head, the channel over the spine remains the same and the panels are not wide-horse friendly. However they have (fairly) recently come out with a Wintec Wide, which is supposed to be more friendly to wider horses. Trumbull Mountain carries them and they offer a generous trial policy. Go to http://www.trumbullmtn.com/Saddle_%2...Wintec_AP1.htm and scroll down to Wintec Wide. I worked with Nancy O in the past when I purchased my Duett (they are a dealer for Duett and Black Country which are both popular brands for wider horses if the Wintec does not pan out), and she is a really wonderful, knowledgeable person to work with. I agree that if you can find a saddle to try for more than just one ride, you will be better able to assess the fit. Saddles are an investment and if you can take a multiday trial, it would be best. Good luck in your search and congrats on your new girl. Best wishes in your recovery too.
North of the Frozen Tundra, but I can see it from my house.
The easy change is relatively easy, but not somthing you wan to do often. You occasionally still see the older Wintecs without the easy change system come up for sale here and there. Because they do not have that system they usually sell for very little; people don't want the older versions. They are still very nice saddles. I would look to get one for each horse rather than trade out the gullet very often. Good luck!
Well, I won't make any earth shattering comments - I think most here have already said it. You don't want to be changing that gullet on a regular basis - it takes some patience, time, and quietly muttered "bad words" to actually change a gullet.
But - I have had great luck with the Isabelle and the Bates (leather version) on many of my medium-wide horses. I don't have any wide to extra-wide horses, they all seem to fluctuate in the medium to medium-wide to almost-wide, and I have to say the saddle fits them quite well! So I like it as a baby-starter saddle - I have to adjust once to fit my current horse-under-saddle, and so far, have found it works well. I rode my medium-wide stallion in one for almost 2 years, and it fit both him and me better than some of the other nice used saddles (including Albion, Devoucoux, County, Passier, Jaguar, etc) that I tried.
So - I think you've gotten good advice here - if possible try one for 3 or 4 days or longer. If your horse isn't a super-wide model, odds are it may fit him well. But don't count on swapping out that gullet every day so you can use it on two different horses.
A lot of your (OP) post resonated with me. First, I have problematic hands, too. Second, I just sold a $$$$$ treeless, which I had given a try for a few years with endless padding situations. Two coat changes, two times white hairs showing so I passed it on. Before we went treeless I had an older wintec that really suited my horse-not the ECG though, so I sold it. After selling my treeless, I bought another used wintec off tacktrader, this one with the ECG. Luckily, it came with the gullet in it that fits my horse. Well, I think anyway, as I just had two rides in it before I broke my leg. Now it'll be a long time before I can ride, darn....But like everyone said, wintecs are great unless they don't fit you or the horse. I feel like I could be a wintec commercial, they suit me just fine. And as for downsizing from a thousands saddle to a hundreds, hey, not a bad thing if it works.
If the mare is really wide then a regular wintec will probably not work because as someone else mentioned, the gullet plates are still basically "V" shaped rather than a hoop tree, like a "U". I'm riding my wide mare in a Wintec Wide right now and its the only thing I've been happy with so far. I've been thru numerous saddles too. 2 treeless saddles (Sensation and Barefoot London), I tried a wide Neidersuss, and a Duett. The twist on the Duett was too wide for me, quality was cheap. If you don't mind a wider twist you might do well in a Duett, they are relatively inexpensive. Other than that, there is a Thorowgood Broadback saddle, I have not tried that one.
I can't comment on fitting a very wide horse, but agree with those who said it's not an easy to change. It took my friend and I, with her husband's help (he brought in the power drill ) 20 minutes to change out the plate in my saddle. I can't imagine what it would be like for someone with a hand injury.
I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo