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Bates saddles

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  • Bates saddles

    I would love to hear from people who have actually used a Bates dressage saddle with the adjustable gullets. I am getting ready to start my 4 year old cob who is currently needs MW and I only own Wide and XW saddles.

    Since I am sure that he will be like every other horse and change radically over the next 18 months I am not up for buying him something that will not fit in the near future.

    I see several Bates Caprilli's and Bates Isabelle saddles for sale on ebay for under $1000. and wonder if this might be a good solution.

    What do those of you who have actually owned a Bates dressage saddle think? What has been your experience with these saddles? Would you buy again? Which model do you prefer?

    I own an old Wintec Isabelle that is not longer servicable and it was fine for this purpose in the past. Since I am hoping to ride a low level test with my youngster by the fall I wanted a saddle that I could ride a test in.


  • #2
    I tried the Caprilli when I was saddle shopping a few years ago. It did not fit my mare at all. No matter which gullet I used, the saddle still bridged in the back. She has a very flat back FWIW.

    *OMGiH I Loff my Mare* and *My Saddlebred Can Do Anything Your Horse Can Do*


    • #3
      I can't stand the isabel -it just pushes me forward.

      But my Bates Innova with the big knee rolls -I LOVE THIS SADDLE!!!

      I have very big horses, with a lot of green horses as we raise and train our own and this saddle just makes me feel so secure and for me, it is just so comfortable. It isn't for everyone. My husband uses uses his Passier GG for any serious work but he is working at a much higher level than I at this point (the last year, I have switched to more driving again -the aches of middle age). But for me, the more middle aged, more timid rider than I once was, this saddle is perfect. I love the support of the knee roll (and this knee roll has stopped me from coming off during at least three bucking episodes), it is perfect. The Innova does not push me forward, but holds me perfectly in balance.

      I have use the MW gullet on all but one of my very modern Perch mares.

      This Innova does not fit our 17 hand Hanoverian, high withered, thin skinned monster very well whereas the Passier fits him like a glove.
      Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


      • #4
        If the TREE is the right shape, they are nice saddles for the money in my opinion...

        Trouble being that as mentioned above, no gullet plate in the world is going to change the tree shape.

        I am a Bates fan, though currently my horses are too wide/flat for any of their products. But I like the stirrup bar position on both the Isabelle and the Caprilli.

        If the tree shape is correct for the back, the changeable gullet plates are lovely and super cost-effective for growing horses or seasonal changes. But--even with being able to change the plate, you still could need restuffing as the horse grows & changes, and a lot of folks ignore that.
        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

        Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


        • #5
          I cant tell you how much I LOVE the bates saddles. I am a proud owner of two. I have the bates caprilli an LOVE it. I got it when I needed a XW TB/Draft cross and I loved it, when I got my new horse two years a tiny 16 hand lanky TB and it fit, I changed the gullet to a M an it fit her perfectly.

          I recently, about 8 months ago bought the bates innova dressage sadde and love it! Some people either love or hate the big knee rolls but I really like them and feel the whole saddle really helps with my position.

          I loved them so much I made my tainer ride in mine an she even loved it, she went out a month later an bought a dresage saddle!
          When I do need a new saddle either jumping or dresage as long as it fits my horse I would get another bates.


          • #6
            This is my opinion from owning a Bates Isabel. It is a well made saddle for it's price range, has a deep seat but is wide, so if your used to riding in a Kieffer with a narrow twist it will take getting used to for a few weeks. If your horse is curvy, by this I mean wide through the belly, not much wither, or rounded in the top line (not straight like many TB's) it is not the saddle for your horse.

            Good luck with your saddle search.
            "You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?" Richard Bach


            • Original Poster

              Thanks everyone. I should tell you all that this boy has withers. I never expected that in a cob and he is a homebred.

              I am in the I hate big knee rolls side of things. I do think I should put my old Isabelle on him just to see if the shape of the tree and panels work for him.

              I am so used to wide flat back horses that I tried every saddle I own for my wide flat back guys and just could not get why none of them fit this high withered medium wide guy! Go figure!


              • #8
                Originally posted by Baroquecoco View Post
                I own an old Wintec Isabelle that is not longer servicable and it was fine for this purpose in the past. Since I am hoping to ride a low level test with my youngster by the fall I wanted a saddle that I could ride a test in.
                If you prefer a leather saddle, that's fine, but there is no reason you can't "ride a test" in a synthetic saddle. People do it all the time at recognized shows with no issue whatsoever.
                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                Spay and neuter. Please.


                • #9
                  I test road the Caprilli and the Isabell. They both were very nicely made saddles. The Caprilli has a much more open seat and I felt very insecure in it. The Isabell has a deap seat and I was hoping that it would work out, but it didn't. The Isabell does have a wide twist (the Innova is even wider so I did not try this one), and it was uncomfortable. I also had issues with the stirrup bars on the Isabell sticking me in my thighs. They are bent/curved slightly outward and they stabed me in both my legs. Very uncomfortable. I was told after I brought the saddle back that I should try it with the Bates leathers that you adjust from the bottom and are only one piece of leather hanging down between your leg and the horse. Didn't bother trying it, but I wish I had.

                  Also.....Rick's Heritage Saddlery (they have a website) is closing out all their Bates and Wintec saddles and have the Bates Isabell brand new on their website for $1399......they are listed in the used dressage saddle section in the Chester, PA store. They will ship them out for trial.

                  Good luck.
                  Life is what happens when you're making other plans. RiverDance


                  • #10
                    I LOVE the older Isabels - great leather. I've also ridden in a newer jumping model (not sure which one) and the leather was not as good as the Isabel, but definitely worth the money. As with all changeable gullets - they're as good as the initial fit. If your horse can fit in it, it's awesome to have the options, but if they don't at the start you'd best keep looking.

                    Good luck!


                    • #11
                      I have been through several in the line of Bates saddles and all have served their purpose well for me. I used to have a Bates jumping saddle for my gelding but it did not fit my mare well (channel was too narrow).

                      I first had the Bates Caprilli dressage when my mare was 3yo and had that until she was almost 6yo. We went through 4 gullet changes...it was a lifesaver. It fit her pretty well until she REALLY started to fill out at about 5 1/2yo.

                      That is when I switched to the Bates Innova which I LOVE. I have the smaller block version. It is much wider in the back channel than other Bates I have had. I really like it overall.

                      I will probably switch to a custom saddle for her in the next couple years (saving $$$) but Bates has been a lifesaver for me and all the ones I have had have had really nice leather. I am sold on the concept of an (at least somewhat) adjustable saddle
                      "There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it"