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Collegiate Dressage Saddle?

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  • Collegiate Dressage Saddle?

    My horse is really, really picky about her saddle. I think that's great, but since I live in a tack store challenged part of the country, it's really hard to get saddles on trial. (ie, I currently have the one saddle from the one and only local store that I thought might fit us. It didn't.) I don't have a ton of money to play with, so I don't want to ship in lots of saddles from out of state, but I guess that might be what it comes to.

    My jump saddle is a collegiate alumni with a wide gullet and it fits the mare beautifully. We both love it. Does collegiate make a dressage saddle with a similar tree that I could try or are the models so different that it's irrelevant?

    Basically, I want a relatively inexpensive (<1k) dressage saddle that fits her really well. Any thoughts?


  • #2
    I suspect the trees on jumping and dressage saddles will be different, but whether or not the difference is something that matters to your horse is something you can only tell by trying. I believe Collegiate is one of those brands that has undergone an evolution over the years such that it would be difficult to generalize.

    In your price range, don't overlook the synthetics (Wintec, Thorowgood). There are a lot of folks who are very satisfied by these saddles, and both of the brands mentioned are adjustable (though that does not mean they can be configured to fit any horse).

    I believe that one of the Collegiate dressage saddle is very similar to the old Wintec Pro, except it is real leather rather than synthetic.
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.


    • #3
      Well, you're in luck.

      In order to maximize their profits from the Easy Change Gullet System, Bates basically repeats the tree and panel options on their saddles and sells them at different price points. As a simple example, your Collegiate Convertible Alumni is nothing more than a cheaper, wool-flocked version of the Bates Caprilli Close Contact with a straighter flap configuration. From the panel shape upward, they are pretty much the same saddle on the same tree. The old Wintec Pro Jump and Wintec Close Contact are also built on that tree.

      So you can play the same equivalency game in the dressage saddles. The Bates Caprilli CC has an equivalent in dressage tack of the Bates Caprilli Dressage. The Collegiate Convertible Intellect and the old Wintec Pro and Wintec 500 models were also cheaper copies of the Bates Caprilli Dressage.

      While there is no guarantee that that particular dressage tree will fit your horse, it's a very good bet since the tree is extremely similar to the Bates Caprilli CC tree (on which your Collegiate Alumni is built). It will also sit and ride very similarly to your Collegiate Alumni, so the chances that it'll work for YOU are higher than chance.

      If I were you and had budget concerns, I'd not start with the Collegiate--I'd start with the old Wintec 500 and Wintec Pro models. Synthetic tack is very acceptable in the dressage world, much more so than in the hunter/jumper world, and you can find them dirt cheap since they've been discontinued. For example:
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


      • Original Poster

        Thanks!! I knew someone out there would know about this.



        • #5
          interesting theory.. did anyone take apart a bates and a wintec to see if they really are the same tree ?


          • #6
            Originally posted by LARGEBORE View Post
            interesting theory.. did anyone take apart a bates and a wintec to see if they really are the same tree ?
            Every tack shop employee and saddle fitter I've ever talked to has said that.

            Having just been through a lengthy saddle fitting process (turns out my mare is a Santa Cruz gal) I've learned that if one "brand" fits it's a good idea to try other models from the same manufacturer.

            Re: Collegiate Intellect/Bates Caprilli. Tried them both and loved them but they didn't fit the mare. I noticed more used Caprillis for sale when I was looking.
            Last edited by Equine Studies; Jan. 18, 2011, 07:53 PM. Reason: added info
            "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."


            • #7
              Originally posted by LARGEBORE View Post
              interesting theory.. did anyone take apart a bates and a wintec to see if they really are the same tree ?
              It's not a theory, it's a fact. Heard it directly from the mouth of a former Bates/Weatherbeeta employee in the context of asking whether it was worth trying other Bates/Wintec tack for a horse that wasn't quite fitting into the Bates Caprilli CC. The trees from any given family of cousins (like the Bates Caprilli, Collegiate Diploma, Wintec Close Contact for example) are structurally identical but are made of different materials depending on the price point. So one might be beechwood and one might be a synthetic plastic polymer, but they'll be exactly the same shape.
              Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/