The Definitive Guide to the Easy Change Gullet Plate System for the Bates, Wintec and Arena Range of Saddles - This is everything you need to know about this class leading method for changing your saddles width.
This is Part 1 of a 3 part series exploring the systems used in the Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles and how amazingly adjustable these saddles actually are and how this benefits you and your horse.
It must be realised that the Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles employ several layers of adjustability and state of the art technologies which add up to the most adjustable and adaptable riding saddles available.
Part 1 - Bates, Wintec and Arena Saddle Gullets - The Easy Change System
Part 3 - Bates, Wintec and Arena - Horse And Rider Technologies - The HART System
Saddles Ireland are experts in the supply of new and used saddles. We have fitted thousands of saddles and have decades worth of experience in all saddle brands and their models. It's for this reason that we are recognised as Ireland's leading saddle experts and able to advise you on all matters that are saddle related.
The aim of this guide is to answer any questions you may have on the Easy Change Gullet System used by Bates, Wintec and Arena branded saddles. If you are new to this System you will learn why you really should be considering it.
We sympathise with every rider who has issues with saddle width. It's a tricky thing! But it's not all doom and gloom. There are things you can do to empower yourself and your saddle fitting prowess. A major thing you can do is to use an adjustable saddle system.
After fitting every combination of horse and rider, we have come to the conclusion that adjustable saddles are the way forward, without doubt.
We believe every saddle will be adjustable in the future. Indeed world leading Brands such as Bates, Fairfax, Wintec, Kent and Masters, GFS, Thorowgood, Ideal and Arena all produce adjustable saddles. Some, such as Bates, have been producing adjustable saddles for well over 40 years.
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Why are adjustable width saddles so important?
Because your horse is constantly changing shape based on work load, diet, seasons, age and more.
Imagine this scenario......You buy or even have fitted a lovely 'fixed' gullet saddle ready for the start of the competition riding season. Even if allowances are made for your horses muscling up or down (which is a very skilled task by the way), think what saddle related problems you could have when your horse is losing weight or gaining muscle through exercise!
In the main, riders simply think all is well as they assume that 'The saddle fitted last week' or 'The saddle must fit, it's brand new and was fitted by a saddle fitter'.
Unfortunately, your horse can be more changeable in width than your fixed gullet saddle is.
The above scenario is a particular situation we see daily and is only one instance amongst many instances that highlight the sense in your saddle having an adjustable gullet.
Also it is worth noting that adjustable saddles have obvious advantages when fitting saddles across more than one horse.
What is the Easy Change Gullet System?
The Easy Change Gullet System used by Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles is a means of altering the width of the flexible tree.
As explained, your horse can and regularly does change shape, so it makes sense to have a saddle that you can easily alter to match the changes in width at a minimum.
The width of a saddle is governed from the waist of the saddles tree to the tree points. This area is often referred to as the gullet.
The flexible tree is known as the Elastiflex™ Tree and it serves two purposes guided towards adjustability.
The Elastiflex™ tree is designed to be rigid through the length of the saddle, while possessing side to side flex to work with the horse’s muscles.
Because the tree is flexible from side to side the rider can use the Easy Change Gullet System to alter the width of the saddle by simply replacing one gullet plate with another.
Why can't a traditional tree'd saddle be easily adjusted?
In a fixed gullet saddle, the tree is not readily adjustable other than by adjusting the flocking or by using a machine that mechanically jacks in and out the the leading edge.
The adjustment of flock is a minimal action that provides only small width increments. The nature of flock is to provide a cushion and balance by creating an even surface area. A saddle's flocking is not to be relied on to alter a saddles width to any significant degree.
The mechanical action of jacking in or out the width of a saddle's tree should only be used within moderation. The Society of Master Saddlers recommend adjusting a saddles tree mechanically only once, as the stresses involved can weaken and/or twist the tree's structure thereafter.
There are other methods and systems for adjusting fixed gullet trees depending on the manufacturer and model, such as heating or removing and replacing the head. But in reality these methods are not convenient or cost effective.
Obvious limitations abound with fixed gullet saddles against the ever changing shape of your horse.
These limitations are one reason why the used saddle market is so buoyant. Riders are permanently flipping through saddles trying to deal with their width issues. Also, it's why you regularly see ad's that state - "Saddle For Sale - Bought Brand New, But No Longer Fits My Horse" or similar!
Is the Easy Change Gullet System, Easy?
At Saddles Ireland we change the Bates, Wintec and Arena gullets daily for customers taking advantage of our European wide saddle trials. We can change the gullet plates in under 5 minutes.
Even for those riders who are not so technically minded, the procedure for changing the gullets in your Bates, Wintec or Arena saddle is relatively easy.
BUT, it's like many things, the first few attempts can be a little fiddly whilst you learn the nuances of your specific saddle. Remember they are all hand finished and each model is put together in a different pattern.
We do get customers who state they have no practical ability at all and they worry if they will be able to change the gullets. BUT, I can only ever think of one customer who really could not deal with changing the gullet on one of our trial saddles.
It's one of those things, the more you do it, the more the saddle beds in, the easier and more apparent the technique becomes. - The Easy Change Gullet System is an evolved solution to saddle width changing for the everyday rider. - It's designed for the rider to easily empower themselves.
So what are these Easy Change Gullets?
The Easy Change Gullet Plates are made from hardened steel and designed to be completely rigid ensuring they can not spread, thus providing constant width increments over any given period of time.
The gullet plates are not interchangeable with any other saddle brands other than the Bates Wintec and Arena saddle ranges.
The gullet plates are held in position by two high quality stainless steel threaded inserts and robust M6 stainless steel screws that are pre-applied with thread locking compound.
What widths do the Easy Change Gullets come in?
The Easy Change Gullet Plates are sized in 'Standard' incremental widths and also in 'Wide' incremental widths. In both instances they are colour coordinated and stamped accordingly.
The 'Standard' width gullets range from Narrow to Extra Wide as follows -
Narrow (N) - Yellow
Medium Narrow (MN) - Green
Medium (M) - Black
Medium Wide (MW) - Blue
Wide (W) - Red
Extra Wide (XW) - White
NOTE* The standard width gullets only fit the standard range of saddles. They will not fit the Wide range of saddles.
The 'Wide' width gullets range from Extra Wide to 4x Extra Wide as follows -
Extra Wide (1XW) - Light Lilac
Extra Extra Wide (2XW) - Dark Lilac
Extra Extra Extra Wide (3XW) - Light Purple
Extra Extra Extra Extra Wide (4XW) - Dark Purple
NOTE* The wide width gullets only fit the wide range of saddles. They will not fit the Standard range of saddles.
Is there a gauge I can use to ascertain the width of my horse?
Absolutely. Remember the aim is to make it easy for you. The Bates Wintec and Arena Saddle Easy Change Gullet Gauge directly correlates to the Easy Change Gullet widths for both the Standard and Wide series of saddles.
You can easily use the gullet gauge to see what width your saddle needs to be. You can use the gauge thereafter to stay on top of incremental changes.
But be aware, the gauge is specific to Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles only!
Width measurements are not standardised throughout saddlery - That is to say one manufacturers idea of a 'Medium Wide' width for example is not the same as the next manufacturers.
How are the Bates, Wintec and Arena adjustable gullet plates supplied?
Every Standard width Bates, Wintec or Arena Saddle is supplied with a Medium Black gullet. Every Wide series saddle, is supplied with a Extra Extra Wide, 2XW, Dark Lilac gullet.
Extra gullets for both the standard and wide series of saddles are supplied either - singularly or in Complete Kit form.
In both instances the gullets packs contain spare screws and fixings. Also in the case of the Complete Gullet Kits, a Gullet Gauge is included.
It should also be noted that the Standard Complete Gullet Kits do not include the Black Medium Gullet, as every standard width saddle is supplied with the Medium Gullet.
The Wide Complete Gullet Kits include all of the Wide Series Gullet widths.
Is the Easy Change Gullet System expensive?
No, especially when compared to constantly dealing with saddle fit issues!
Also the initial purchase of the saddle is hugely competitive. Bates saddles offer intense levels of quality and functionality for their cost and are a best seller for Saddles Ireland. Likewise Wintec saddles offer superb build quality and functionality for very reasonable money and the Arena saddles sit in between at a price point that knocks any other brand clean out of the park.
Also, never forget Saddles Ireland specialise in you getting the right saddle either through Saddle Trial Facility or by having your Saddle Fitted by our True Master Saddle Fitter Lauren Coxhead SMS QSF MSFC in your own yard or home.
The gullets are so robust that once you have them they will last a lifetime.
The Individual Easy Change Gullets in both 'Standard' and 'Wide' Series retail in Ireland at RRP €28.00 - Saddles Ireland's Price is just €23.50 the best price in Europe including the UK.
The Easy Change Gullet Packs in both 'Standard' and 'Wide' Series are RRP €121.00 - Saddles Ireland's Price is just €93.99 the best price in Europe including the UK.
It should be noted that www.saddlesireland.ie supply their new direct sale Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles with the customers choice of gullet plate at no extra charge.
Also all of our Bates, Wintec and Arena trial saddles, New or Used are supplied with a FREE Trial Gullet Pack worth €84.
Pro's & Con's
You will need a screwdriver - We recommend the Philips No. 3 screwdriver or the Stanley Philips PZ2. Both are the kind found in any tool box.
The screws are factory supplied with an anti-undo compound that can initially be very stiff - But once undone the screws will easily go in and out, yet remain thread locked.
Initially the way to change the gullet may seem un-apparent, but very quickly you will become accustomed to the method of your particular saddle.
When changing the gullet from a Narrow width to a Wide width and vice-versa one might need to apply some strength as the tree will be set to the previous width setting - This said, we never hear of it being an issue, we are just pointing it out so you are aware.
Easily adjust your saddle's width throughout the days, weeks, seasons and life of your horse.
Designed to be changed by riders, your horse can benefit from immediate results.
Enables the option to fit one saddle across more than one horse.
Compared to constant saddle fit issues and the associated costs, this system is cheap.
Gullet plates and kits are easily sourced throughout the world.
If you work with Saddles Ireland's trial facility, you can easily fit the saddle yourself via the adjustable system, using the FREE trial gullet pack and FREE remote guidance from our True Master Saddle Fitter.