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CAIR vs. Flocking?

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  • CAIR vs. Flocking?

    I'm looking at getting the Wintec Pro Dressage saddle for its price, low maintenance, and ability to fit multiple horses. I was wondering y'alls opinions on the CAIR panels vs. traditional flocking? Can you tell a difference? Is it worth the extra $54?

  • #2
    If you do a search on CAIR, you should find a bunch of informative threads


    • #3
      I've no experience of CAIR myself but, from what I've read on other forums, I'd personally go for flocking.


      • #4
        Some horses will have no parts of having a saddle on their back with the CAIR panels.

        My sisters horse objected severely, got the saddle reflocked, problem solved.

        After that experience, I would personally also go with something flocked.


        • #5
          On the other hand, I have saddles with both CAIR panels and wool flocked panels. My horse is fine in either. I have both a County Extreme and a Wintec Pro jump.

          A friend of mine just bought a Bates with CAIR and her horse has never been happier.

          So, the answer is a definitive, it depends on what your horse likes!
          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


          • #6
            I have the Wintec 500 dressage. So far a nice saddle for me and the horse. I have the CAIR panels. She seems to go just fine in them. No noticeable difference between it and my regular leather jump saddle. So I can't compare her in 2 wintecs, flocked and unflocked. Just feeling them, I don't FEEL a huge difference. I don't see any reason a horse wouldn't like it for the panels, but apparantely some do. My advice is to see if you can borrow one to ride in.


            • #7
              I had a Bates with the CAIR and my horse hated it. Definitely try it out first! My saddle's CAIR panels were hard as rocks.

              I borrowed an older Bates saddle with CAIR panels that felt partially deflated and he loved that one.


              • #8
                go for flocking. i own a bates, and over time the air panels definitely 'leaked' some... pretty sure bates/wintec claims this doesnt happen, but my saddle fitter seems to disagree! flocking is more adjustable too


                • #9
                  If you can try a CAIR saddle first, I'd recommend that.

                  My Wintec dressage saddle is flocked, but my Wintec jumping saddle has CAIR.

                  I thought the mare went well in the dressage saddle, but when I got the jumping one...wow. Even bigger, more free movement. She LOFFS CAIR.

                  So, now I should sell the dressage saddle to get the same model with CAIR.
                  ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~


                  • #10
                    I don't have the dressage saddle, but a Wintec AP 2000 with the Cair and my mare has been fine with it. I did notice a little difference when I first started riding in it, like the saddle was wiggling under me. Now that I have been using it for a while I find it very comfortable.


                    • #11
                      This a personal choice for you and your horse. After trying all sorts of saddles, I borrowed my BO's Bates Caprilli w/Cair. My gelding relaxed in the back and happily moved out. I got him a Bates VSD w/Cair. He honestly seems happier in it. He stretching down and rounding very easily. I switch to the other saddle- head is up and he is more short strided. Crazy as the other saddle is considered a much "nicer" ie more pricey saddle. Good luck in your saddle hunt.

                      Happy Riding,
                      Jessie and the Stinky Pony aka Bosco
                      Last edited by chebeau; Jun. 21, 2010, 12:47 AM. Reason: Redundant sentence


                      • #12
                        I had a Bates with CAIR for awhile and when it started making my horse's back sore, I switched to a flocked saddle.

                        It's weird how much of a difference it can make.


                        • #13
                          Depends on you and the horse. I have a horse with a high maintenance back -- HATED CAIR. Hurt my back. Hurt his back. We had it ripped out and replaced with wool, been fine since.
                          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                          We Are Flying Solo


                          • #14
                            I have a variety of Bates/Wintec saddles, some of which are flocked and some of which have the CAIR. I have never personally had any problem with any of the CAIR panels, but if I were buying a new one (mine were all purchased used) I would choose one with flock filling simply because this will afford fitting options beyond what the CAIR can provide. More versatility for the $50 difference.


                            • #15
                              try it out

                              I have a Bates Isabell dressage saddle with Cair and my horse loves it. He feels freer in the back and I prefer sitting trot in this saddle compared to a wool flocked saddle. My horse was a hard to fit ottb with a sensitive back and this saddle fits him like a glove. So, I wouldn't count out Cair panels until you try them. Every horse is different and yours may love them or hate them...or be ambivalent.


                              • #16
                                Me and my horse LOVE our Bates Caprilli Close Contact (CAIR)

                                I think SADDLE FIT is the bigger issue, not neccessarily CAIR versus flocked.

                                The Bates saddles don't fit all horses. The ones where they FIT, seem very comfortable.

                                I can say that I LOFF my Bates Caprilli Close Contact saddle. I bought it used several years ago, so it's not the new one. But it's super comfortable for me and my horse. I've never ridden in a more comfortable saddle. My trainer has three of them and my sister has one too They work for our ponies!

                                You'll just have to try it out.
                                Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                                **Morgans Do It All**


                                • #17
                                  I like my dressage saddle with CAIR panels. It fits my super high withered TB wonderfully, but leaves a small ridge of higher pressure on my Hanovarian. I know this because I test all my saddles with a Port Lewis Impression Pad (well worth the $ if you have multiple horses.) It's still a reasonable fit on the Hanovarian it's just not perfect.

                                  I had a jump saddle with the CAIR and had problems with the fit in general not the panels. I like that there is no "every 6 month" reflocking, but you can always "pop" one and lose the air in them.

                                  I've grown to dislike flocked saddles more and more. Yes, the flocking can be moved around, but it does just that, it moves around, it gets lumpy & hard, it has to be redone and requires continual maintenance.

                                  All of my newer saddles have foam panels (Prestige, Devoucoux) and I like those a lot.

                                  Of course the vast majority of saddle fitters will tell you NEVER to buy a saddle with CAIR or FOAM panels.......but that's because they would go out of business if we all did.

                                  It still has to fit no matter what kind of panels you get, and there are advantages and disadvantages to them all. I like the CAIR panels and would choose them over wool flocking any day. (But I like the foam panels better than the CAIR.)


                                  • #18
                                    my saddle fitter hates the CAIR panel. She's shown me them before and there is really nothing "special" about them other then plastic coated foam. She told me that the plastic can hold in a lot of heat & be bad for the back. I chose to have my bates changed to wool b/c the saddle was not fitting perfectly and she couldn't do anything with those panels in it. Now I can have her fix the saddle when it needs it. It fits much much better now.


                                    • #19
                                      Just goes to show that it's all personal opinion then.

                                      I use a very respected saddle fitter who has been in this business forever.

                                      He highly recommends the CAIR panels.

                                      And no, he doesn't sell any saddles so he's doesn't have a dog in the fight.

                                      Originally posted by hldyrhrses View Post
                                      my saddle fitter hates the CAIR panel. She's shown me them before and there is really nothing "special" about them other then plastic coated foam. She told me that the plastic can hold in a lot of heat & be bad for the back. I chose to have my bates changed to wool b/c the saddle was not fitting perfectly and she couldn't do anything with those panels in it. Now I can have her fix the saddle when it needs it. It fits much much better now.
                                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                                      • #20
                                        I have Wintecs of the flocked and CAIR variety. Both types fit my mares well and I can't say I've noticed any difference.

                                        I think if you start with a well-fitted saddle in terms of tree, gullet size, and panel shape, you tend to have a little more leeway with the panel stuffing.

                                        That said, riding in a deflated air-panel saddle (this experience was not with a Wintec but a fancy, custom, unaffordable-except-by-clueless-owner model) feels like having a flat tire.