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I get a lot of inquiries about why a customer’s Bates or Wintec saddle seems to bounce a bit or leans them in the wrong direction. As a saddle fitter and conformation analyst, I love what the CAIR panels do for the comfort of the horse. They can subtly change shape in the areas that need them without any help from me. They allow the saddle to ride cooler than wool and no matter how good of a flocker I am, I can’t see everything once the saddle is clamped down. As any good fitter will attest, the wool may move a bit after a few rides or settle faster and thinner than we anticipated, requiring a re-fit.

Some owners ask to have the saddle flocked to stop the bounce/lean issue. The CAIR panels were not designed to bounce, tip you forward or backward. If you are encountering this, it is a fit issue. If the back bounces up, reduce the gullet plate size and/or shim the panel. If you are tipping forward, the plate is too wide. If you are tipping backward, the plate is too narrow. The panels can be shimmed in the newer models and that can really make a difference in the fit.

A customer came to me wanting a new saddle and I suggested an M. Toulouse to get into her budget and fit requirements. She had ridden a friends saddle on her OTTB and made this statement: “I can’t have a Toulouse, they throw me forward.” There is not a good manufacturer in the world that designs a saddle that leans you forward, backward, or bounces, it is always a fit issue. Now that Bates has added a basic line of leather saddles with the CAIR panels, I can offer them to clients that I used to send to other makers. The Arena series has all the HART benefits (that’s their buzz word for the CAIR shimmable panels and the adjustable gullet systems) in a leather saddle in some nice basic styles at an affordable price. If you aren’t comfortable adjusting your CAIR saddle, find someone who is, it can save you a lot of trouble!

Before you have the back-saving benefits of the CAIR panels removed, get the saddle fitted properly.

Cher Griffin
Mobile Tack Shop Owner
Published on 21-05-2020
My name is Cher Griffin and I am a certified horse nut. I've been living and breathing horses since my first trail ride at six years old. The horse broke loose from my handler and went flying back to the barn and all I could do was grin and whoop it up the entire mile-long run. My mother thought I was crazy. Little did she know. Since that fateful ride, I became a horse owner, 4-H member and horse show addict. I spent many years showing and training Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, hunters, Morgans, Arabians, a stint with roping horses and sundry other breeds and combos. I became a carded judge in the early eighties and spent more than three decades in the center ring. I've been a 4-H leader for 42 years and have thoroughly enjoyed working with youth and horses. I've coached fourteen successful horse-judging teams to national-level competitions. When my knees finally gave out, I opted for the driving world. I continued to train minis and ponies to drive in the show ring and ADT level competitions. Throughout all this, I also owned my own trucking company, working in the heavy construction industry for over twenty years. Now that I'm an old gal, I own a mobile tack shop that travels from South Carolina to Georgia attending a variety of shows and events. I may not be center ring anymore but I'm in the thick of the horse business and live in the heart of the south's horse mecca, Aiken, SC. If that isn't horse-crazy enough, I am also a published author of three mysteries, Ritzforg 127, Captain Courageous and Gwenonwyn of Aileen. If you love horse and who-done-its, you'll love the books.