I have ridden in the older Isabels for years and love them. After deciding to move one of my Isabels into my lesson program I was looking for a new saddle for myself, and rode in quite a few different saddles. Non of them suited me as well as the Isabel, plus I needed an adjustable saddle as I ride a lot of young horses and horses in for training. I decided if it ain't broke don't fix it, and ordered a new Bates Isabel. I think it feels pretty much like the old Isabels, which I think is good, and is a better looking saddle. I am happy to have the option of the shim system, although I haven't needed to use it yet. The leather in the Bates is really nice - textured enough to not be slick, and quite soft for a new saddle. I do think the new model runs bigger. I rode in an 18" in the old one due to a long femur,but I think I could have fit in a 17 1/2 in the new version. All in all, I love mine!!
I agree that the new ones ride bigger...the seat is more open, so I think that's why. I have also found that the panels on the new models are significantly flatter than the old. My horse has been going in an old Isabel for years and when I decided to get him a new saddle I ordered one...did not come remotely close to fitting. It bridged so badly I could stick my whole hand under the middle of the seat and no amount of shimming was going to make it work. Just something to be aware of...
Thanks for the reviews- actually for the horse in question- flatter IS better, so that might be a good thing for him - though without fitting it to him, hard to tell.
I am kinda bummed though if the new one rides like the old. I was so hoping for a narrower twist, and room for my fatter thighs- which feel so pushed out in the isabell.
We're a tough pair to make happy- my horse isn't extraordinarily wide- he just needs a pretty flat paneled saddle- both front to back and left to right. To find that combination with a twist that suits me...well...its been fun...NOT
I may just have to go the more expensive route and look into higher end saddles, but I was hoping to get away with a lower end saddle for at least a couple of years while I figure out what direction we're headed.
OP, I think the slight change in the seat might make a difference for you. Worth trying it.
Agreed. I bought a new Isabell, the 17.5 felt huge and very roomy, the twist much narrower. I felt cramped and stuck in the old one, and the twist was too wide (in a 17.5). I ride in a 17.5 in every other dressage saddle, yet in the new Isabell I felt like I could have gone with a 17".