Tekna vs Wintec vs Thorowgood? Yes another saddle thread.
I've recently ventured into dressage land after some major changes in barn and general horse life (for the better, but big changes nonetheless). I'm in the process of hunting for a dressage saddle that will help Apollo and I get started and hopefully suit our needs for a while. But the options are dizzying and with limited ability to test ride, I'm in need of some guidance...
Apollo has a pretty classic TB back as far as I can tell. High wither, fairly curvy. I don't have pictures right now but I can get some tomorrow. I'm currently riding him in a Wintec CC, medium gullet, that fits him well. I'm 5'7" with legs that are pretty average for my height. Not super long but not short either.
I've ridden him in a wintec Isabell before, and liked it. The gullet in it was too wide for him, but he went fairly well in the saddle. I have not ridden in any other wintec dressage saddles, nor have I ridden in Teknas or Thorowgoods.
So now I must ask...what are the substantial differences between the three? The difference in price is pretty substantial ($1300 for a new wintec isabell vs $600 for a new Tekna), is that reflective of a difference in quality? I haven't even looked at Thorowgoods yet.
I believe the Thorowgood T4 and Wintec Pro are pretty comparably priced. I've heard people say that the new Wintec Pro is somewhat like the older Isabell. The Thorowgood T6 (T8)? that is leather-covered is a bit more, price-wise. At $600, the Tekna is comparable to the Pro and T4. The Isabell is the highest priced of the synthetics due to the name and a couple of special features; the seat can be a bit more restrictive of one's position. The Horse Journal recently (Jan?) did a review of the Tekna, Wintec Pro and Thorowgood and gave all of them a good review. I think the Thorowgood offers the most fitting options, between the plates, shims and the three different basic trees. I believe all three are comparable, decent quality.
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If you do a search for Tekna, you will find a few threads. I just got a smooth Tekna dressage saddle and absolutely love it!
It fits my horse's curvy, short-coupled back fabulously and I love that it has the changeable gullet plates and wool flocking so hopefully this will be the only saddle I will ever need with him (as his back changes and such). Other than the fit, my favorite thing is the look. From a distance of 3 feet, you can't tell that it's not leather! The wintecs and I think the thorowgoods have strange designs and use different patches of material so you can tell it's a synthetic saddle. My Tekna smooth dressage saddle looks like any other leather saddle until you get really close. And you may think that the smooth would be slippery...trust me, once you are in it, it's not! (and this coming from a gal who rarely mounted up into her used Neidersuss without a few spritzes of Sit-tite spray).
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Hm well over the course of a couple of years, I've owned or at least ridden in all three.
The Tekna is the one I know the least about. I did sit in it, I felt like the seam was a bit uncomfortable for me, and it was too narrow for my mare...this was before they were adjustable with the gullet change system. But, there are folks out there who like them! I'd certainly try it again if I had a need to. I ended up with a Kent & Masters Original Dressage built on the standard tree (same tree as thorowgood models- regular/standard) for this mare. It was curvy enough for her back and very very comfortable- like riding on a cloud.
Back in 2010 I bought a Wintec Pro. I did like it, it was a newer design - did NOT have the contour blocks. I ended up selling it because it was just too flat for my curvy morgan gelding I had purchased it for. I did not have any previous experience riding in Wintecs, but felt like the twist was pretty wide on that thing.
Fast forward to last year. I purchased a used Wintec Isabell (pre 2009) for my gelding. The seat was a bit too small for me, should've gone up a size, and man, on him that thing was unbearably wide feeling- it just hurt to ride.I ended up getting a couple of Kent and Masters saddles- their Original Cob and The S-series low profile (not just for him, but for another horse too). Both kind of worked for awhile. The S-series has a much narrower twist, and deeper seat. I quite like it. However, the panels are a bit more angled and don't have a ton of surface area for flatter backs, and my horse quickly outgrew it. The Cob appeared to be a better fit but the seat on that thing was so dang flat I really felt too open, and the twist was quite wide. For this horse I ended up getting a NEW Isabell. He's happy in it- very flat. I wish it were a bit more U shaped in the front but he's still happy. The seat on the new isabell definitely feels more open, and I think they did narrow the twist a bit- but not a drastic change. I can ride in it without my feet going numb, and I can walk afterwards, so that is telling enough to me
So, IMO- they all have their place. I'd certainly look at Thorowgood standard or high-wither for your horse. They are quite adjustable moreso than the wintecs and quite comfortable. Thorowgood even came out with their version of the s-series dressage saddle: http://www.thorowgood.com/T8-Dressage.html
Wintec's especially the new ones are very very flat and may not work for your horse...but they are accessible so it may b worth a try, especially if you did like the Isabell.
Thanks for the input guys! It sounds to me like the Tekna or Thorowgood is my best option. From the reviews I can find, Tekna seems to be the most popular. It also has the best test ride options.
I got some pics of Apollo's back today - pardon the quality, I forgot my camera so just used my phone. If these are totally unusable let me know. The more I look at it, I'm not sure if his back counts as "curvy." He has a long, high wither but a fairly flat back after that. Do these pics change anyone's suggestions?
I had the Tekna dressage saddle with the suede like seat. It fit my Tb back well. However, when I went to change the gullet plate (they are quite wide off the rack) all hell broke lose. I Could Not get the thing back together. The screws for the plates would not hold At All. I wound up sending the whole mess back to the vendor and they did a full refund. I didn't care for the look of the saddle and did notice that it is constructed in China. Wintecs are made in Vietnam, Thorowgood in England.
I just recently ordered a Thorwgood reg tree dressage saddle from Dover (they are on sale) and think (hope) it will have the best chance of fitting and be user friendly. Maybe I got the crappy built Tekna, maybe I'm an idiot (though I've changed tons of Wintec gullets in my time) I wouldn't own another changeable gullet Tekna. Good Luck!
Thanks for the input! I've ruled out the Wintecs and am seriously comparing the Thorowgood vs. the Teknas. How recently did you have the Tekna, wylde? I like that there are plenty of places I can get a trial for the Tekna, and might go that way. But it seems that most people lean towards the Thorowgood for TB type builds.