Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear, which is why I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to try out products. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope that you simply have fun and find entertainment while reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences might help give you factors to consider when you are on your own quest for new gear.
There’s nothing like my favorite pair of broken in jeans. Well, other than my good ‘ole well worn pair of sneakers. Add in a super soft scoop neck tee, and you’ve got one of my most worn outfits for a casual weekend day out. Just because the fit works well and they are just so darn comfy. There really is something to be said for a comfortable and proper fit.
The same concept applies to all of my riding apparel and gear. There can usually be items in my own set of gear that I gravitate towards, because they just seem to fit me (or my horses) especially well. For me, looking at a saddle is a really big deal–not just because it is a focal point of my set of tack and gear. But more-so because the fit of a saddle has to work for both myself, and for my horse. Or in my case, horses.
Having multiple horses is an exciting undertaking. My own three horses are all different ages, and are at different points in their training, which keeps life interesting for me. However, each of them has a different build and body type as well.
As nice as it would be to have multiple sets of tack, bought specifically for each of my horses, let’s face reality—that’s just not realistic. Tack is an investment for any horse owner…especially when you buy a saddle. I own two saddles—an all-purpose that I use for jumping, and a Dressage saddle. Since all three of my geldings are on the ‘chunky’ side, and both saddles have wide trees, they work reasonably well for everyone. I’ve basically just turned to padding with shims to help custom the fit as needed.
It is a challenge though, to make one saddle work for three horses. In recent years, adjustable trees have been a saddle feature that I keep hearing about more and more frequently. The concept always intrigued me. As an owner of multiple horses, my gut reaction was pretty positive – because saddles are an investment, having one that can be customized to fit different horses would be ideal. Though I always wondered how difficult it would be to change out the tree.
For the past several months, I’ve been spending time riding in a WintecLite All Purpose saddle. I was definitely excited to be able to trial a Wintec saddle. Prior to my trial period, I had no previous experience riding in a Wintec, but really liked the concept of a saddle made of synthetic materials. I’m pretty
crazed manic fanatical particular about the condition of my leather saddles. So I thought that the idea of being able to ride in wet conditions without having to fret about water marks on the saddle leather would be pretty grand.
But I found that the cool features didn’t just stop there – one of the first things that I noticed about the WintecLite was just how lightweight it was. I mean it’s hold-up-in-the-air-in-one-hand-and-dance-around-to-music-on-the-radio light. Which definitely comes in handy for me – as someone who has to carry my tack and gear down to the barn for every ride, a lighter weight saddle made my load a little lighter, and my arms happy.
I was also excited at the prospect of trying out an adjustable saddle – the WintecLite features their own CAIR cushion system, and it can be adjusted using the EASY-CHANGE Fit Solution. The EASY-CHANGE system allows a rider to change out the gullet and/or riser pads, so that you can get the fit and balance of the saddle that you are looking for
Taking a step back – the concept of an adjustable saddle is great in my mind. But the first step to getting that just right fit is measuring to see what size gullet you need. Using a simple measuring tool that accompanied the EASY-CHANGE system, I was able to quickly find the correct size gullet that I needed.
Opening up the front of the saddle to swap out the gullet is also much more simple than I could have anticipated. I simply took a slightly smaller sized phillips head screwdriver, and first removed the two screws located towards the front of the saddle. Then, I pulled up the flap that velcros underneath the saddle, and was able to slide the panels down to access the gullet. I definitely feel like the entire process is easy for me to follow.
I also noticed the longer billet straps of the saddle, which were interesting to see on an All Purpose Saddle. The saddle was designed this was in order to provide a closer contact fit and better stability. I used the WintecLite saddle with one of Wintec’s own short elastic girths. The billet straps can be switched out, for those who prefer the use of a longer girth.
I remember back to the first ride that I took in the WintecLite saddle – I was not really sure what to expect, since riding in one was brand new to me. I was definitely surprised, because even though the saddle itself is light to carry, it does not feel less substantial to ride in than a leather saddle.
The WintecLite was really quite comfortable for me to ride in – since I have been used to doing both flatwork and over fence work in my own all-purpose saddle, I felt comfortable trying this particular model, since it is also an all-purpose saddle. While all-purpose saddles are not really specialized in the way that a close contact or dressage saddle is, I’ve found them to do perfectly nice job for me over my small jumps, and for low level dressage work.
Another plus for me was my own ‘worry-free’ maintenance of the WintecLite saddle – and by that, I mean that I could let go of my somewhat obsessive tendency to make sure that my saddle leather stays dry and clean. Since the WintecLite is made out of Wintec’s own Equi-Fabric, I’ve found that it holds up against wet weather, and is easy to maintain.
An additional feature of the WintecLite line that I personally found to be particularly cool is the option to customize the cantle. The saddle is able to either be personalized on the cantle, or there are some options to select national flags as well. The particular saddle that I’ve had on trial has the American flag on it (and if you’ve been following my reviews, you may recall that my own colors are red, white and blue – so I absolutely LOVED the flag). A removable cover is also included if you wish to cover up your decorated cantle.
The WintecLite comes in two different models – the regular all-purpose model, and a D’Lux model. The difference is that the D’Lux model is made with a grippy suede fabric. Both models are available in sizes 16 – 18, in whole and half sizes. The AP model has an MSRP of $630, while the D’Lux model has an MSRP of $860.
Go Easy-To-Adjust Saddle Trees. Go Wintec. Go Eventing.