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Fit of Bates Saddles - Elevation v. Caprilli?

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  • Fit of Bates Saddles - Elevation v. Caprilli?

    I'm working on Phase 874 of trying to find a new used saddle to fit my horse (in my wonderfully impossible price range). He really liked the Frank Baines but I can't seem to locate one in the right size/shape/price. Alternatively, the saddle fitter suggested a Bates Elevation might work and Trumbull Mountain suggested a Bates Caprilli. Both appear findable in the right price range.

    Is there a large difference in how these fit? Has anyone had any experience with them? And what is "heavily waxed leather"? I hate leather that feels like plastic and try to avoid it, but if it fits the horse...
    They're small hearts.

  • #2
    I don't know what fit you're trying to acheive for the horse but having ridden in both of these saddles, I find the rider fit to be very different. And not really in a good way.

    I'm okay with the Caprilli close contact (though it gave me a horrible chair seat - I've seen it work fine for others). The Elevation has a much different feel and a much more forward flap. Since I usually prefer a more forward flap, I thought I'd like that one, but there's something weird/uncomfortable about it for me. If I had to guess I'd think the twist and stirrup bar placement is different. Not sure I can be more specific, it's been a while and a lot of other saddles since then.

    If you end up considering a Bates, look for ones made in Australia before the switch. The leather quality seems consistently better on the older models then the new ones.


    • Original Poster

      He's a TB with kissing spines, built more like a WB but has sort of a long, flat back (though he does have withers). Fortunately, whatever I'm buying would be used so I'll have the option to sit in it for a few minutes to see if it fits me as well. When was the switch from Australian made?

      Any experience with the "covered leather?"
      They're small hearts.


      • #4
        I would pass on the Bates saddles. They tend to have issues with the tree points cracking, and getting them to fix the saddle under warranty has been a royal pain for me. I lucked into getting in touch with the first owner of the saddle, and was able to get mine fixed only because it has a serial number and I could send it to the tack shop that sold it to its first owner. Otherwise I would have been totally out of luck, stuck with a 6-yo saddle that was barely even broken in that had a cracked tree.

        So yeah, skip on the Bates unless you're cool with the tree points cracking and having to fork out $300+ to have it fixed.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Trixie View Post
          He's a TB with kissing spines, built more like a WB but has sort of a long, flat back (though he does have withers). Fortunately, whatever I'm buying would be used so I'll have the option to sit in it for a few minutes to see if it fits me as well. When was the switch from Australian made?

          Any experience with the "covered leather?"
          Hmm. I'm not sure it would be the best saddle for a flatter backed horse. My TB is fairly flat in the back and I think the Bates is acceptable but runs on the banana shape side. In the last post of this thread, I included a picture of the Bates Caprilli from behind (with other photos further up). The panels have an upsweep and the tree is the curviest of the 4 in that collection.

          FWIW, I thought the County had the best tree shape for his back (though the one in those pics is too narrow). Haven't found one used that will work. Several others seem to work too - just haven't found the perfect one for both me and him yet. And since I have something to ride in, I'm waiting for some of my others to sell.

          I haven't seen the "covered leather" of the Bates but it might be like some others. I was talking to one of the saddle fitters at our tack shop and her experience is that it doesn't last. And it's not cost effective to replace the flaps.

          Good luck!


          • #6
            I have a bates elevation deep seat with the cair panel system that allows you to buy and position your own shims within the saddle panel for a better fit. adam's horse supply has them for less than $10 each set.

            for example, the right gullet size on my tb jumper leaves me a bit tipped forward but i can rebalance the saddle with either the 4mm or 8mm shims to make sure it's not bridging on him and still balanced for me.

            i was also pleasantly surprised to find that the elevation fit my leg with a long thigh bone and 33" inseam.

            wrt the leather, i bought the plain leather because i ride in chaps and often outside in the weather. i've heard that the softer leather is nice to ride in. passier lederbalsam works well on the plain leather.
            'What's in your trunk?'
            Free tools for Trainers and Riders


            • #7
              Trixie, this won't be worth much to you, but I bought a used bates Caprilli CC locally 3 months ago. I am very happy with the saddle. It fits my mare very well. Me, extremely well. She is barely 14 3ish, big shouldered, wide flat back. It fits her well. Her message therapist is happy with her progress, my riding, and mare has no sore back issues.

              I love the quality, durability, and ease of care. My saddle is in excellent condition. Leather is great quality. It is very comfortable and soft. It is older, but it was nearly new! Very little wear.

              I love mine. Can't tell you specifics, but I am in love with it. I am graduating to better quality saddles. To some, it isn't that good of a saddle, but for me, my mare, and my wallet, I am very satisfied!

              Good Luck....try one.....or both models....and see....I got mine at an extremely good price.
              Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

              Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!