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CAIR: good or bad?

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  • CAIR: good or bad?

    I have an opportunity to buy a Bates Innova and am curious to hear your opinions on the CAIR (air system). Good for the horse or not so good?

  • #2
    Limited use=good. Meaning only for a year or two.

    Long term use=bad. Had to replace it with flocking because I was seeing issues in my horse's back where the CAIR panels overlap each other and leave a bit of a gap. Now he's MUCH happier.
    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


    • #3
      Originally posted by Velvet View Post
      Had to replace it with flocking
      Does that mean that you can re-fill the CAIR panels with flocking or does it mean buying a new saddle?


      • #4
        I have a Caprilli jumping saddle and love it! But, I did have the cair panels removed and flocked with wool....


        • #5
          Here is a CAIR panel.
          Note the part where they use packing tape to stick them together. That "junction" where the two bags over lap often creates a pressure spot for the horse.

          Here is the inside of a C(AIR?) panel.

          Mildot: yes, you can have the CAIR bags removed and have flocking put into the panels instead. Once you do that a Bates is a pretty nice saddle!
          The Noodle
          Boy Wonder
          The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!


          • #6
            Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
            That "junction" where the two bags over lap often creates a pressure spot for the horse.
            Can a thin half pad such as this fix the issue without having to re-flock?


            • #7
              I had to get my CAIR replaced with wool. My horse was not happy with the CAIR. Saddle fit beautifully but he would buck and refused to go forward. I got it replaced and it was like I had a new horse. When the saddle fitter showed me the CAIR panels that she'd removed I thought shw was kidding. They were two small plastic-y slabs that were taped together with clear packing tape. No wonder Elliot was unhappy!

              And mildot, I tried several pads with Elliot and they didn't work. He could still feel the wonkiness of the CAIR thru the pads.


              • #8
                A very timely discussion for me.

                I rode in a Wintec AP for the first time this week and Calypso (my lease app QH mare) went really well under it. Much better, in fact, than in the two barn saddles that fit her (both dressage models, one Collegiate the other brand unk).

                She was noticeably more fwd, relaxed, and easier to connect back to front. As an aside, I found the balance for me to be exceptional which made both rising trot and sitting the canter noticeably easier and more relaxed.

                So now I am wondering if this saddle has flocked or CAIR panels. Besides the CAIR badge under the cantle, how else can I tell?


                • #9
                  With my CAIR it worked great until it didn't. :/

                  You can feel the panels- with CAIR they are usually rather hard, with wool thry have a softer more giving feel.


                  • #10
                    I'm riding today after work and will give the panels a squeeze. Maybe if I can find a s/n, I'll e-mail Wintec and see if they can tell me which is it from their production data.


                    • #11
                      I know of only one person who had a CAIR and she got rid of the saddle in less than a year. She said the same thing others have: her formerly very forward KWPN refused to move under it and was NOT happy. Once she got a different saddle the mare returned to working happily.
                      The best thing to do on a golf course is a GALLOP!


                      • #12

                        If you can, try to see whether you can ride in an old model of Bates and see whether you will like it even better. Cair never worked for me, and neither is Wintec.

                        I used to detest any of the exchangeable gullet saddles until I was put into an really really old Bates Isabelle. Now that saddle punishes you if you don't sit correctly but is built so correctly for riders it enables you to be very effective rider. I've seen my riding improves leaps and bounds this year alone once I scored a Bates Isabelle (wool flock) from ebay. It needed some serious conditioning and took me a while to find it (nobody was willing to let go of their old treasure it seems), and once I got it had to get a fitter to reflock it. The fitter of the previous owner must have done a rather blotched job... the flocking was awful...


                        • #13
                          I have a Wintec jumping saddle with CAIR that has been working very well for me. I have a young horse, and I have been using this saddle since she was backed, she is now coming 5.

                          I check her back daily for soreness, the saddle has never caused her to be sore, and she has very even sweat patterns under the saddle. I have had to change the gullet plate a few times as she develops, or adds or drops weight.

                          She shows no signs of discomfort undersaddle, goes with a nice soft back, and is always eager to stretch down and do "stretchy trots".

                          I usually ride with a thinner "puffy pad" (dover knock off poly pad that is not as thick) and a thinner wool half pad. I have been meaning to buy a thin felt pad, as I like the way they form to the back, and think it would make a nice compromise.

                          Also, I live on the CA coast... we don't get COLD here, a cold day is 51 degrees. I think wintecs, including the panels get stiff and hard in cold weather.

                          If you are trying to figure out if the saddle has CAIR just turn the saddle over, there will be a CAIR logo, you can also open some of the velcro that holds the panels on and take a peek!
                          APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the tips. I'll rip one panel open tonight and look inside.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Duramax View Post
                              And mildot, I tried several pads with Elliot and they didn't work. He could still feel the wonkiness of the CAIR thru the pads.
                              That's great to know.

                              How quickly did Elliot tell you he didn't like the CAIR saddle? Right away or did it take some time for the problem to show up?


                              • #16
                                It took a while. He's a homebred and this has been has only saddle so far (he's 6 and a very wide draft x with withers so it fit him well). Started him at 3, went into serious work at 4.5, was a happy camper and then when he was 5 he became sulky, reluctant to move fwd, would do these bucks where when you first started cantering he would just hump his bottom up and swish his tail around. If I sat to the canter it got worse, half seat he didn't do it as bad. He became nervous undersaddle, reactive to sounds and spooky. He wasn't my sweet dopey drafty x anymore.

                                Had the vet look at him thinking he hurt somewhere, she couldn't find a thing (not back sore at all). She asked to look at my saddle and when she ran her hand down the length of the panels said that he might not like the saddle b/c she could feel a lump in the middle (right where the two CAIR cushions join).

                                Took saddle to saddle fitter and she looked at it and told me it fit him great. When I asked her to convert it she warned me that it might not solve his issues... she had me ride in my saddle first and he showed the behavior I'd described. She had me ride in her converted Wintec and all of the sudden I had my sweet boy back! After she saw the difference she agreed to convert mine to wool. It was amazing when I got it back, sweet, happy Elliot returned! Also, I could feel a difference- the seat feels less bouncy now.

                                So like I said, it worked great until it didn't!


                                • #17
                                  Very enlightening, thanks.


                                  • #18
                                    Bad. Made my horse sore. Made my back sore. I had my saddle fitter rip them out and replace with wool. Happy again. :-)
                                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by mildot View Post
                                      So now I am wondering if this saddle has flocked or CAIR panels. Besides the CAIR badge under the cantle, how else can I tell?
                                      I have one of the new Bates dressage saddles on trial, it has flocked panels, there is nothing under the cantle other than a silver metal piece across the back. IF there is no CAIR badge then it's flocked, however, make sure the CAIR badge wasn't removed. I'm not sure if they have always offered flock as an option or not; the new ones you have a choice.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        What does it cost to replace the CAIR panels with flocking?