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Easy Change Gullet Systems

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  • Easy Change Gullet Systems

    So I am in the market for a new saddle. I have my eye on the "Phillip Dutton Saddle" but have some reservations about it, mainly because of the easy change gullet system.

    i have had some people in my barn that had bad experiences with the easy change systems in their saddles - saddles not fitting, cracking and screws coming out.

    What concerns me about the whole system in general is that it just changes the front of the saddle and not the entire channel. So if the saddle came with a "normal" size tree and your horse was wide and you change the gullet to accommodate the wider horse it still wouldn't fit all the way down the back. Which would put uneven pressure on the tree and not sit properly on the back. ...does that make sense or am i just entirely over thinking the whole thing?

    i am just curious what everyone thinks about them - i tried to find another previous thread but couldnt find one.

    Also - what do you think about the phillip dutton saddle?

  • #2
    I know absolutely nothing about the Phillip Dutton saddle, but I do have a Bates Isabell with the "easy" change gullet system. I just recently switched it from a M to a MW plate and, while it wasn't brain surgery, I wouldn't call it easy.

    Otherwise, I like it. I switched to a MW plate to widen the channel at the base of the withers because we were getting some pinching there, so you do get *some* widening of the channel although I would say it's limited to the front half (or so) of the tree.


    • #3
      I don't do eventing just for the record or any over fences. So take my opinion for what it is worth. I have a Bates AP adjustable, that I have used on several Arabians for a number of years and love the saddle and the ability to adjust. My current mare is wide when in condition and x-wide when not in shape. I have had no problems with mine and I'm pretty careful with fit. I still do some minor tweaking with pads but that is just me. I probably wouldn't buy a saddle that I couldn't adjust. I do hear what you are saying regarding the panels, however, my saddle seems to work pretty well. I guess it would depend on the horse some.

      If possible try one before buying.


      • #4
        Changing the front does change the angle of the panels, to a degree. I think there is a video on the Lazer website. I like my Wintec 2000. It works well on both my wide and narrow tb. It's easy to switch out (although I try not to do it often).


        • #5
          I have one of the Wise Equestrian dressage saddles. I love it!

          Changing the gullet on the Wise is a bit more complicated than the Wintec. You have more screws and will need an allen wrench to remove them. (The allen wrench comes with the purchase of the saddle.)

          Kate Wooten, who is a saddle fitter, has a Wise Air jumping saddle. You could send her a PM. She loves her saddle. My friend just bought one and loves it, too.

          I will say that changing the gullet was a bit of an athletic event for me. Maybe it was because I was changing it on a day, when the temps were over 100 degrees?
          When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


          • #6
            Originally posted by Dallas2009 View Post
            So I am in the market for a new saddle. I have my eye on the "Phillip Dutton Saddle" but have some reservations about it, mainly because of the easy change gullet system.

            i have had some people in my barn that had bad experiences with the easy change systems in their saddles - saddles not fitting, cracking and screws coming out.
            Keep in mind that "Easy Change Gullet System" is a trademark name for the Bates/Wintec/Collegiate gullet change system. The Wise Air has a totally different system that works with a totally different mechanism. I'm not saying that automatically makes it better than the ECGS, just that you can't compare apples to oranges.

            What concerns me about the whole system in general is that it just changes the front of the saddle and not the entire channel. So if the saddle came with a "normal" size tree and your horse was wide and you change the gullet to accommodate the wider horse it still wouldn't fit all the way down the back. Which would put uneven pressure on the tree and not sit properly on the back. ...does that make sense or am i just entirely over thinking the whole thing?
            There are situations where the horse truly has changed *only* in the front portion of the saddle, not the back. It happens quite a bit with growing horses, horses that are coming into work after being out of shape, horses who are being ridden more correctly and begin to develop through the back, etc. That said, you're correct that there are plenty of fitting situations that a changeable front gullet can't adress, and you're hinting at what I consider the real bogey of adjustable gullet saddles: when you change one thing about a saddle, you will inevitably change another. Crank it wider and you'll often lose some wither clearance. Crank it narrower and you often end up pinching the horse's scapula and shoulder.

            Before I list my other two complaints about adjustable-gullet saddles, I should say that I don't dislike them. They are like every other saddle gimmick on the market: they have advantages and disadvantages. I've often recommended them to horseless riders who need a piece of tack that sorta-kinda fits a wide swath of horses. Certain adjustable-gullet models, especially the ones built with a more U-shaped hoop tree, can be good values for wide horses. There are also a few saddles that are just plain nice saddles regardless of whether you ever change the gullet.

            But they're not perfect. Complain #1 is that many--not all, but many--of these adjustable models are built on a law of averages, designed to fit a huge variety of horses poorly rather than to fit a specific type of horse reasonably well. There are major exceptions to that rule--Kent and Masters, Hastilow, Thorowgood, PDS Showtime dressage models, to some degree the Wise Air saddles--but a lot of the other brands' gullet systems work that way (many of the Pessoa/Ovation, Wintec/Bates/Collegiate, HDR Adjust-to-Fit, M. Toulouse Genesis system, etc.) Complaint #2 is what you already noted above, which is that some gullet systems are pretty shoddily constructed. The quality of the Wintec/Bates/Collegiate Easy Change Gullet System has gone down over time, IMHO. And the M. Toulouse with the Genesis system takes the cake in that department; I've even seen some where the whole mechanism was installed crooked so that the tree didn't adjust evenly on both sides. Fortunately, they've got someone doing better quality control now and the new Toulouse Professional lineup should be an improvement in that regard.

            Also - what do you think about the phillip dutton saddle?
            A nice enough set of saddles. I call the Wise Air design "shades of Devoucoux," which is no surprise since Phillip Dutton has long been sponsored by Devoucoux. Wise Air a nice alternative if you dream of a $5000 foam-panelled high-end French saddle but can't afford it. The Wise Air saddles I've seen seem to fit a moderately withery, curvy-backed TB well. So if that's why you're buying it, it's a nice choice--competitive in that department with other saddles in that price range, such as Amerigo by Vega, Equipe, the low end of the Prestige lineup, the higher-end Pessoa Legacy saddles (like the monoflap and Legacy Event models), etc.

            If you're buying Wise Air because you think it's the best adjustable-gullet saddle available in that price range--which I doubt, but I am thinking of other people who might consult this thread who ARE thinking that--I don't think that's true. There's a number of British brands building adjustable-gullet saddles that run away with that value equation: Kent and Masters at retail of roughly $1500-$1600, for example, and I think they're every bit as well-constructed as the Wise Air tack. Hastilow will build you a basically fully custom Concept adjustable saddle for around $2800-$3000 that will stand up to comparison with a County/Albion/Black Country any day of the week. But those are British-style wool flocked saddles and the Wise Airs are obviously French/foam types, and AFAIK the Wise Airs are the only adjustable-gullet French-style saddle on the mid-range market.
            Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/