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Wintec dressage, do you like Isabell or 500?

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  • Wintec dressage, do you like Isabell or 500?

    I'm thinking about getting a Wintec dressage saddle for endurance riding. Anyone have one/love one/hate one? I've heard the equileather 500 is slippery and hard to break in, but I'm worried the sueded Isabell is too sticky. I know the stirrup bars are hung 2" farther back on the Isabell. I sat in one on a rack and it felt like it shoved by thighs too far back, but that may change when on a horse. I must say, the price on the 500 is very attractive. I currently compete in a barrel saddle that I love, but it no longer fits my horse well enough. I'm hoping the changeable gullet system and CAIR panels will do the trick, and that the deep seat/long leg won't sacrifice security. I'm a huge fan of security, not gonna lie. I've ridden hunt seat all my life, but have discovered I like all that leather. It makes life so much easier when genius decides to squirrel around for the first 8 miles. Though I plan to try out a few before I buy, I'd appreciate any opinions on the two saddles. Thanks!

  • #2
    I have a Wintec 500 with CAIR panels but only use it in the arena for dressage work and maybe a spin around the premises. I personally don't recommend it for CTR or endurance.
    While I was waiting for my real endurance saddle to arrive, I used the Wintec on a ca. 15 mile ride and it did not work for my horse it seemed. She didn't move out like she should. Although the saddle fits her well, I doubt the CAIR panels and the general construction of the saddle distribute the rider's weight all that well and I didn't care for it going up or downhill. It's not meant for distance in any case.

    How much riding are you planning to do? Why not invest in a real endurance saddle meant for long distances that keeps both the horse and you happy and gives you the security you need? I know it's a lot more expensive but still cheaper than finding out in a couple of months you need a second (or third...) saddle after all. If you like English-style saddles, demo the Solstice (Arabian Saddle Company), the Frank Baines Enduro, and maybe the Duett Companion Trail, and see what difference that makes.


    • #3
      I love the older wintec 500 dressage with the flocked panels. Not such a huge fan of the CAIR--some horses don't care (sorry, no pun intended) but I had one get back sore after one ride.

      I can't ride in the Isabell (hubby has dubbed it the "Isabell Worthless") My thighs are ridiculously long and between all the padding and position of the bars it torques my back something fierce.

      I do have a Soltice which is super comfortable--except again, my thighs are so long my knees poke out over the flap. Sigh. At some point I'll get around to selling it.

      Good luck in your quest!
      Real Horses. Real Riders. Real Results! www.wvhorsetrainer.com


      • #4
        I bought a used Wintec Pro dressage and love it. My horse goes so well in it, actually all of mine do. It was supposed to be an interim saddle, but I think its a keeper. Especially since it fits my wide shouldered fjordieX with the Xwide gullet.


        • #5
          People seem to either love or hate the Isabell. I personally find it doesn't fit my bottom right, so I get chafing. One of my friends has the same complaint. Four other people I ride with love theirs, however. I prefer the old Thorowgood dressage I'm riding in.


          • #6
            I had the Isabell--it didn't fit me as well as the Keifer Bayern I had been using that belonged to my trainer (but that was a $2500 super-saddle that no way I was going to afford.) But it did fit fine for dressage. I'm not especially tall, though, so if you are long-legged it might be a different story. Also, I used to solely for ring work, not endurance, so I never tried sitting in it for longer than an hour or two.
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            • #7
              I have the 500. I dont find it slippery or hard to break in. I rode in the Isabell for a few months and HATED IT. I found that it pitched me forward and and put my leg in a weird position. It was OK on my horse, but on others I was all over the place.

              The only thing I dont care for in the 500 is the cair. I bought the saddle used for a song, so I'll deal with it...but on a horse with lofty, bouncy gaits-its like bouncing on a hard mattress. My guy has very smoothe gaits so I dont mind it.


              • #8
                Originally posted by LittleblackMorgan View Post
                I rode in the Isabell for a few months and HATED IT. I found that it pitched me forward and and put my leg in a weird position.
                Me too! I rode in a borrowed one for the last year until I could afford to get a new saddle. I'm 5'3", and I found the flaps to be way too long. Granted the saddle was slightly big on me, but there can't be that much flap length difference between sizes, can there? Anyway, the seat was nice, but with the too-long flaps and the weird leg position, my legs were killing me by the end of a 25. I was grateful for the loan, since it fit my horse, but definitely glad to give it back.
                RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.


                • Original Poster

                  What sorts of problems do too long flaps create? I've never ridden in a dressage saddle. A friend suggested I try the youth model, 16" seat, and the flaps are 3" shorter than a comparable adult model. I'm short, but have more leg than back.


                  • #10
                    I had the 500 w/ CAIR and thought it put me in a pretty good position, but I'm tall and have long legs, so it might not work so well for someone shorter. There are better saddles out there, but you can't beat it for the price.


                    • #11
                      I don't endurance ride, so bear that in mind. But I loved my Wintec 500 dressage saddle. IIRC, it does not have CAIR panels.

                      I'm tall (5'10") with long thighs, and it did put my leg slightly infront of the flap... but it was bareable. Heck, my Kieffer does that now, but I can't afford a custom saddle.

                      I really liked my Wintec. So much, in fact, that I've not sold it yet and it hasn't been used in like 4 years. It's a good saddle and I like the fact that the gullet is changable.
                      Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
                      See G2's blog


                      • #12
                        I don't endurance ride, but I ADORE my Isabell. I bought it second hand off ebay; it has flocked panels (no CAIR) and it has fit me beautifully and has worked out nicely for me on several horses; a Belgian cross in a medium wide (red) gullet plate, a gangly TB in a black (medium) a Friesian cross in a black plate, and my current and forever partner, Fenway Bartholomule, in a black plate.

                        I do shorter trail rides but on very difficult terrain, and I absolutely love the saddle.
                        My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

                        Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives


                        • #13
                          I own an older Wintec 500 that I love, it has traditional wool flocking as well (I personally dont like the CAIR). I have never ridden in a Wintec Isabelle, but I have friends that have owned one and/or ridden in one and dont like it. I personally love deep seats, (which the Isabelle has) so I cant really say either way. I think that the 500 is a great price for a great saddle.


                          • #14
                            IMO I LOVE the Equisuede saddles. I have a Thorowgood AP and never feel the bit unseated with the sudede.

                            I have an Equisuede Wintec Dressage I'm trying to sell. PM if you're interested. Brand new condition.
                            MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                            • #15
                              Anyone tried the W. Pro Dressage with the contour blocks? I thought that one would be good for starting out a young horse. I've been eyeing the Isabell too but might be reconsidering. I'm about 5' so a shorter flap is needed and my horses are rooound. So the wider, the better but a narrow twist is important.

                              I would have thought the farther back the stirrup the better? I tend to lean forward anyway.


                              • #16
                                After doing an LD in a Wintec that was too small for me (too short in the seat, stirrup bars too, though it did have a sueded seat that I stuck to like magic, very important when his first mule turned my horse into a whirling dervish) I got a Wintec Pro Dressage saddle in 18" (no Cair panels - Tack of the Day closeout special for $270 or so ). I didn't buy it for endurance but for my own horse for arena and trail. It came with the medium tree template thingie installed rather than the whole interchangeable set, but it seems to fit my horse quite well as is.

                                I have done some fairly long trail rides in it and I think I could do an LD without a problem, for me at least. The friend's horse I am riding doesn't seem to mind the new Wintec for training rides, but as we continue our conditioning he will probably be wearing a Specialized. The Specialized has great stirrup placement and, when fitted properly, a larger area for weight distribution. The horse is coming back from time off, though, so his back is changing rapidly. We'll see what happens.

                                One thing about my Wintec - It interacts well with leather full seats, cotton knee patch breeches are okay. Kerrits breeches with synthetic knee patches, not so much.

                                The smooth surface of the saddle and its relatively shallow seat and no knee blocks is great for being able to adjust your position and give your legs freedom, but when riding my own horse, I do want some grippiness somewhere in the equation at certain moments. Stirrup placement could be a little further back, but it is not horrid.

                                These are somewhat matters of personal preference, what you are used to and the horse you are riding. I haven't tried a sheepskin cover on the saddle - that might make a difference too.

                                I have never tried an Isabelle.
                                Publisher, http://www.endurance-101.com
                                Blog: http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/


                                • #17
                                  I have the new Wintec 500 with the equisuede knee rolls and absolutely LOVE the saddle! It fits my big girl (draftx) great and I use it for both ring work and it's wicked comfy on the trail. Two thumbs up!
                                  I would like to think I will die an heroic death...

                                  But it's more likely I'll trip over my dog and choke on a spoonful of frosting.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by BigHorseLittleHorse View Post
                                    Me too! I rode in a borrowed one for the last year until I could afford to get a new saddle. I'm 5'3", and I found the flaps to be way too long. Granted the saddle was slightly big on me, but there can't be that much flap length difference between sizes, can there? Anyway, the seat was nice, but with the too-long flaps and the weird leg position, my legs were killing me by the end of a 25. I was grateful for the loan, since it fit my horse, but definitely glad to give it back.
                                    Perhaps its us!I'm the same height. I get a whopping inch and a half on a horse in that saddle. Or ride without stirrups. LOL.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      So, I tried out my friend's sueded Pro yesterday and absolutely loved it! It was very secure and didn't slide back to my horse's flank like a bucking strap, so it was a good day. The stirrup placement felt comfortable, and I didn't have any problems with the flap length. For 5'2", I have more leg than spine, so maybe that helped. Her saddle was a 17.5", and while it fit, I could probably go down to a 17". My horse seemed to love the CAIR panels, and maybe I'm crazy, but it felt like they helped by back too. So, if anyone wants to sell a 17-17.5" Pro with CAIR and changeable gullets, drop me a line. Thanks!