Thoughts on Wintec Saddles?

So riding in a western saddle has been less than ideal. I don’t think it would be so bad if the saddle were not so small, but it is a 16.5″, and I think we can all agree that I am more of an 18″ kind of rider! Since I started riding the Mare I have been keeping an eye out on craigslist and ebay for used wintec dressage saddles. The more I think about it, the more I am realizing that my life for the next who knows how many years is going to involve catch riding. My saddle is set to fit warmbloods with big shoulders and no withers, I don’t want to pay $200 each time I start riding a new horse. The mare is only mine for another 2 months anyway so I don’t want to fit a saddle to her.

That got me thinking though about the wintec with the changeable gullets. That way I could have a cheap saddle that could fit her, the next horse, the horse after that, etc. The more days I ride in a saddle that doesn’t fit me well the more important I feel it is to be comfortable when riding. So with no such luck on any of the discount sites I was starting to get discouraged. My original budget for a spare saddle was $350. I figured it would be $200 for an adjustment anyway and I would be willing to kick in an extra $150 for something that would have such an impact in my life. Just last week I got a the check from that Tack Sale I went to a few months ago. I am thinking that I will keep the amount of adjustment and increase my budget to the amount that I made in the tack sale, which means I have about $500 for a spare saddle now.

So this morning I was checking my e-mail when a tack store I order from sometimes sent me a coupon e-mail. They will give $75 off an order of $500. On a whim, I checked out their saddle selection. They have a wintec dressage saddle in my price range, brand new and it includes the easy change gullet system and shipping at no extra charge. I immediately went to buy it, but I stopped myself. I don’t want to make a rash decision.

I want to know if anyone out there has ever had a wintec saddle. Did you like it? Did the gullet system work? Were you able to change the gullets? Did it fit most horses? Were the saddles comfortable? Anyone out there have a wintec dressage? What model? Would it be worth the extra $100 to get a different model? I did get a gift card for my birthday that has been sitting around. I would rather use it on something else, but it could go towards the saddle if the basic dressage saddle from wintec is no good but the other models are amazing. I am open to all thoughts.


28 thoughts on “Thoughts on Wintec Saddles?

  1. I haven’t had a Wintec dressage saddle but I had the 500AP with the changeable gullets. The first time I changed the gullets it was quite a struggle, the second time it was easy. You just have to learn how to do it. This saddle kicked around in my trunk, stored in odd places, got used a lot, then a little, in general abused badly. It was comfortable and balanced and I sold it last summer for what I had paid for it years ago. I think the Wintec synthetics are more comfortable than the ones that they make look like leather, I have ridden in a couple of those and they were slippery. I think they are a good deal.

  2. I love my Bates Isabella dressage saddle with the interchangeable gullets! I rode in the wintec model at a show with school and it was also very comfortable. I also rode in another wintec model with Paradise and I loved that also. I would say go for it!

  3. I am no saddle expert but in reading about saddle fitting and talking to saddle fitters I have heard more than one say that they have good luck getting wintecs to fit hard to fit horses. I personally have never ridden in one though.

  4. I have one (Pro dressage, I think it’s called). It’s sitting in the closet. Didn’t find it comfortable for me. With the adjustable gullet, I can fit it to many horses. I don’t find it useful for my riding now.

    If you’re interested, let me know. Paid $750 new with stirrups and “webbers”.

  5. I have a Wintec 500AP and really like it. There is a nice video on youtube going through each step to change the gullet and I watched that while I did it the first time. It took about 15 minutes. The second it took only 10. The saddle doesn’t require much except a wet cloth wipe down every now and then. I don’t think it is the most comfortable saddle I have sat in, but it fits and isn’t uncomfortable. For what you are needing I think it would work great.

  6. I have a 500AP as well – I found it easy to change the gullets – once you get the hang of the little screws.

    It seemed to fit my gelding ok – but I’m no expert. And, like Barbara mentioned, they can take all kinds of abuse and still look brand new. I would expect that you could resell it with no problem when you needed to.

    The only thing I would consider would be to get one with the suede-like seat. The 500AP I have has a plastic-y seat and it gets a bit sweaty when it is hot (ewww!). I think it is the Wintec Isabel that has the suede seat – not sure if it is in your budget or not. If you get the 500 dressage, maybe you could get a fleece/sheepskin saddle seat cover thing-y so it isn’t plastic-y…

  7. My first saddle was a Wintek AP, synthetic, no changeable gullet system (hadn’t been invented yet and Isabell hasn’t applied her name to any saddles at that time ;o) and while it was too small for me (I have long legs and need at least an 18″ I think), it worked fine for just getting on and riding the horse. It’s lightweight, was comfortable for hacking out, and sold for nearly what I paid for it about three years later. Had never “field washed” a saddle before, but basically that’s all the care it needed. I wiped it off after every ride–damp cloth and a bit of elbow grease if it was a hot day and the sweat had dried on some of the edges before I got home.

    I love their girths, too. Another “field wash” project AND very comfortable for the horse. I’m a Wintek fan but am leery of getting into the saddle search because all the fitters want to sell me something and that’s how I got the too small Wintek (relatively inexpensive) AND a custom Saddlery Solutions Accord model (BIG bucks) that is also too smallin the seat and pitches me forward. The Saddlery Solutions/JRD saddle fitter had money (and my credit card number) and refused to make the saddle right after I met with someone who could SEE the problems the Accord was causing but, sadly, did NOT have a suitable saddle for trade. Bummer.

  8. I think it’s a fantastic idea, especially for your particular situation. I spent some time at Equine Affaire helping a friend saddle shop and we were looking at the Bates/Wintec. I think it’s a fantastic, budget-friendly option that also has a very high probability of working for most of the horses you will be riding. It is super easy to change the gullets too.

    Someday when I have a little bit of play money, I actually want to buy a Wintec dressage saddle for Ace. I want an actual dressage saddle to ride him in for schooling and if I do a mini trial, but since it’s not my primary discipline don’t want to spend a ton.

  9. I recently bought a Wintec 500 AP because Grayson seems to be changing shape every two minutes.

    I did not like it at first but I had been riding in a western saddle for the past 6 months. I started with the extra wide gullet but it seemed too wide…now I’m using the wide and it feels better. PS I had no problems changing the gullet the first time. I think they did a fantastic job with the easy change system.

    After about 5 rides, I started to enjoy the saddle. I feel balanced in it and Grayson moves just fine.

    My one complaint: it’s SUPER squeaky! I think it’s the synthetic stirrup leathers though so I may purchase some leather ones soon.

    Overall, I think the Wintecs are a good saddle to have!

  10. I ride in a Wintec Isabell. It is by far the best saddle I have ever owned. It has the change-able gullets which is great, but beyond that it is comfortable, easy to take care of and allows me to maintain a correct position. I used to own a $1600 used County saddle and I HATED it. The wintec looks like any other “normal” saddle from a distance. I spent $500 for it and LOVE LOVE it!! I know they aren’t for every rider but I have nothing but good things to say.

  11. Not a fan… After a few years of changing the gullets regularly and riding 4+ horses in it a day, the AP I bought on consignment started to crack in places, like around the plates where the gullets screw in, and the billets themselves. Leather stretches, but synthetic stuff doesn’t. It “worked” for most of the horses I rode but didn’t really sit the way a saddle should, and I found myself using a half-pad to help more often than not.

    That said, most people don’t put their tack through the kind of use that I did. If it’s only being used for a few hours a week, on the same horse for a few months at a time, it’ll probably hold up better.

    One of our adopters last week came in with an older version of the AP, with a monoflap/long billet, and it was actually one of the nicest Wintecs I’ve seen… But I still wouldn’t buy one for myself.

    A note on their “chafeless” girths, too… My old Dressage Boss swore by them, but Willie, being Willie, managed to get a gaping welt from one. 😛

  12. If you do like them, they seem like money well spent. I’ve owned different models for about ten years, but now have the 500 dressage model (not the newer version), 500 CC and 500 jump (deeper seated newer version). The changeable gullet system has worked very well with the different horses. For dressage, I suspect the other models may be better for position than the 500… I just don’t like equisuede that much. Also prefer flocking over Cair. My husband uses another brand of synthetics, Thorowgoods. The dressage model seems well-balanced, bought it from Dover when they carried it, he has the T6.

  13. I bought a Wintec Isabell (used) for Jackson when I first got him, knowing his shape would be changing. I loved that saddle. It was very comfortable. The gullets are a bit of a pain to change – especially the first time – but definitely do-able. I would definitely recommend one for what you are going to be doing with it.

  14. I had one of the first Wintecs that I showed in as a kid. I loved that saddle. I was so sad when it didn’t fit Prize. It was pre-adjustable gullet back in the dark ages.

  15. I had a basic Wintec dressage saddle for similar reasons (part boarting, catch riding) and I was really happy with it. I bought mine used and resold it a year later for the same amount of money. They hold up well, are easy to clean and my Wintec rep showed me how they can be inexpensively adjusted to fit almost ANY hard-to-fit horse. Changing the gullets was easy, wouldn’t want to do it every day but once in a while no problem at all. The CAIR paneling is a nice feature if it fits your budget.

  16. LOVE LOVE LOVE the wintecs! I had one when I got my first mare (new holland special) and it fit her from skin & bones all the way through med. wide tree. I got the suede-y seat & that with suede chaps had me stick so well I think I only fell off her 2x with that saddle. Well worth the $$ paid & takes alot of abuse & keeps on ticking!

  17. I use Collegiate saddles, which have the same easy-change gullet system as the Wintecs, on Rev, and I love them. They fit her really well, and I can change the gullet as necessary. I don’t know if they fit a million different horses, but the information I have is that they fit a pretty good variety of horses well.

    I love the way the Collegiates sit for me, too.

    So not exactly the same thing, but very similar — I would recommend them, yes. Highly.

  18. I love my Wintec AP and it fits a wide variety of horses. I would go without the interchangeable gullet though, as I’ve heard they do more harm than good and most of the Wintec haters I’ve run into have used those.

  19. My saddle fitter advised against Wintec’s – especially the ones with the CAIR panels as they don’t “give” to the horse’s back the way that flocked panels do. She recommended a Thorowgood for a good synthetic saddle as it as an adjustable tree and adjustable gullet. I got a dressage one and after we got it sized and placed correctly it works great for my mutton chopped warmblood mare 🙂 And this way as she gets more muscled or skinnier I can change the tree and gullet to fit her so really I won’t need another saddle ever. She’s been doing great in it and I think its really comfortable, and a good looking saddle too with the seat made of leather. I’ve ridden in a Wintec before and it was fine, but based on my saddle fitter and other people I know have said – try to avoid the CAIR panels. Happy saddle shopping!
    PS – My saddle fitter also said that I was putting the saddle too far forward and it was interferring with her shoulders, she said its a common occurence for riders in America (she did saddle fitting in England) so while gullet/tree size is important, placement of the saddle is also equally important.

  20. I’ve never owned a horse, so I can’t speak to adjusting the tree, but I used to ride a horse who had a wintec AP saddle. I rode 4-5x per week, and I hated that saddle. It was broken in, yet I found it incredibly stiff. It creaked. I found it a lot harder to feel the horse under me than I would with a traditional leather saddle. It was uncomfortable.

    I would never buy a Wintec. If I was you, I would look at the Collegiate adjustable saddles. I’ve never ridden in one of those, but I’ve heard good things about them.

  21. hahah i’m like the opposite of karen, owned a wintec, switched to a county. I LOVED My wintecs (had a jumping saddle and the Isabell dressage) but they didnt look very nice in the show ring. I’m more of a leather girl, but they were functional and super comfy. Easy gullet changing too! I guess it depends on the person, but I liked them when I could afford them but once I made more money I bought a nice leather county.

  22. I used the Wintec Dressage Pro with Cair Panels for about 7 years. I also had the Endurance Pro with Cair for trail. They worked great on my arab for many, many years and then for a very wide, not withered QH for 4+ years. I recently upgraded to a saddle especially made for my QH and sold both Wintecs for what I paid for them many years ago (both were purchased used). I loved the flexibility and found both very comfortable to ride it. both had the equisuede. That said, you’ll need to sit in them before purchasing. 2 of my friends had the Isabell and that is what I really wanted but my leg was too long between the hip and the knee. The Dressage Pro was a much better fit for me. Good luck!

  23. I have my 3rd Wintec Dressage saddle that my wonderful Hubby got me for last xmas. Brand NEW! My Isabelle is fantastic. My first dressage saddle was a very used early Wintec dressage saddle (no gullet option) that I used for 5 or 6 years until a friend was selling her 5-yr old Isabelle. I sold my first to another friend and bought hers. Loved it! Dreamed of a new Isabelle someday.

    Last fall, I was riding 2 very different horses slim filly vs hulk gelding and I mentioned that Wintec Isabelles were on sale since there were new models on the horizon. I ended up with the new model. It is every bit as comfortable for me as my old I but I feel more secure in the new one. I switched to trail rides in my Isabelle 3 or 4 years ago once I realized that a saddle horn is not real security… seat is….

    So, I am a serious Wintec fan, my kids ride in English all purpose Wintecs as well as one western wintec….

    So – go girl! you can’t beat the quality for the price…

  24. I have ridden in a Wintec and it was not bad, I invested in the Bates Isabella – bought on ebay – and love it. I had a similar situation to your when I bought it and was happy – 6 years later and 6 of my own horses I still ride in it! Although I am looking for a new saddle just don’t tell my husband that 😉

  25. I have the wintec dressage saddle (old version) and I love it. flatter seat that stay out of the way. Reasonable knee blocks and you can buy the larger ones if you need them. I went with flocked, not cair. It fits most horses and I bought mine for a steal! If you can find the older model you can get one for around $300

  26. I have a wintec dressage 500 and i love it except for the block rubs against the flap by the knee rolls and its an annoying squeak, my jumping saddle used to squeak but every three months i oil it but i can’t do that with a synthetic saddle, any way to make that stop without taking them out?

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