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The Bates and Wintec Isabell Werth Dressage Saddle Review.

Isabell Werth riding in a Isabell dressage saddle
Isabell Werth Riding in the Isabell Dressage Saddle.

As of late 2023 both the Bates and the Wintec version of the Isabell dressage saddle have been discontinued! They have been replaced by the Isabell Icon! The Isabell Dressage Saddles by Bates and Wintec barely need an introduction for those in the know. But, for those of you that have let this unbelievable saddle pass under your radar we have written this review so you can glean insight into this remarkable saddle. "Trust me, you need to know about these dressage saddles, they are very serious options and without doubt the top contender for the best dressage saddle ever made!"

OK, so that is a bold statement for sure! But it's not made lightly, the statement is not based on self opinion or sales garb, it is however based on the fitting of thousands of saddles, feedback and long term results.

Bates Isabell Dressage Saddle In Luxe Brown
The Bates Isabell Dressage Saddle in Luxe Classic Brown.

Every product category be it cars, planes, perfumes or food has a steadfast stalwart that seems to have broken the mould on most, if not, all accounts. In the world of dressage saddles that stalwart is undoubtedly the Bates and Wintec Isabell Dressage saddle.

Bates Isabell Dressage Saddle Opulence Black
The Bates Isabell Dressage Saddle in Opulence Classic Black

The Isabell Dressage Saddle has been to the Olympics more times than any other saddle, it's been in production for over 25 years and it's fitting and general credentials are outstanding to say the least.

Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle Black
The Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle in Black


Features of the Bates and Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle.

Both the Bates and the Wintec Isabell Dressage saddles are pretty much exactly the same, the main differences between the two are that the Bates are leather and the Wintec version is fully synthetic.

Both brands of the Isabell saddle employ the Elastiflex™ tree which facilitates the changeable gullet system by 'Easy Change Fit Solution'. These trees are superb, they offer strength, flexibility and generic anatomic fit qualities. Both of the saddles now use what Bates and Wintec have branded 'HART'. HART is an acronym for 'Horse And Rider Technologies'. Essentially HART is a collective of the adjustable and comfort features employed in virtually all of the saddles throughout the brands ranges. You can read more about HART in a separate blog post here...... HART Blog Post. The adjustability of virtually every saddle in either of the Bates, Wintec and Arena ranges is simply huge. The adjustability of these saddles outstrips other adjustable brands of saddles by two fold at least and the Isabell dressage saddle is no exception. The rider can easily and conveniently adjust the girthing points and lengths, the gullet width from Narrow to Extra Wide, the panel curvature and the knee block position, even the stirrup bar can be adjusted to a forward, central or rear position.

Bates Isabell werth dressage saddle
The adjustable stirrup bar which is a feature on both the Bates & Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle.

Demonstration of Wintec Adjustable Knee Blocks
The adjustable blocks which are the same feature on both the Bates and Wintec versions.

Image showing woman adjusting the Bates Wintec Isabell adjustable dressage saddle
The adjustable width gullet & the shims that are used to adjust the panel curvature if required.

The adjustable girth system on the Bates and Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle
The adjustable girthing System.

When we refer to the flexibility we are referring to the flexibility of fit and also the flexible nature of the tree. Obviously with so much adjustment in these saddles the flexibility of fit speaks for itself. It means that a single saddle could fit across one or more horses and the DIY saddle fitter has lots of room to tweak and adjust the saddle to complete the fit, this is in stark contrast to an 'un-adjustable' saddle whereby these tweaks and adjustments are very limited and reserved for the experience of a qualified saddle fitter. The flexible nature of the tree is two fold. The tree has a tendency to mould to the horses back when under load without being springy, this makes for a very comfortable secure seat for both the horse and rider. Also the flexibility of the tree means it can be manipulated in width, this is done by simply removing and replacing different width gullet plates ranging from Narrow all the way to Extra Wide. On both the Bates and the Wintec versions, the design, attention to detail and workmanship is truly outstanding!


How Have We Tested The Bates and Wintec Isabell Saddles?

Essentially a test of any saddle should be taken across a very wide cross section of as many situations as possible. Luckily we have the experience from huge volumes of saddle fits and customer feed back to rely on!

We don't really think it good enough to just give a riders 'brief' of this saddle or any saddle for that matter. It would be too specific to that riders opinions and preferences, thus potentially biased. So let's give you the knowledge and understanding of somebody who is only biased towards correct saddle fit and has spoken to and experienced a phenomenal cross section of situations. This somebody is no less than our True Master Saddle Fitter Lauren Coxhead SMS MSF. Lauren has fitted thousands of saddles and has had tens of thousands through her hands, she is Irelands premier saddle fitter and provides advice to riders in every corner of Europe. The main thing to know about Lauren, is that she only works in the horse and riders best interests, she will only speak the truth. No sales garb, no if's, but's or maybe's. One must realise that fitting a saddle at Lauren's level is in every instance a very specific act that takes into account -

  • Specific confirmations

  • Likely short and long term changes to confirmation

  • Required targets

  • Breeding

  • Age

  • Training and exercise levels

  • Budget

  • Injuries and disease

  • Rider ability

  • Comfort

  • Rider expectations

  • Growth expectations

  • And without doubt way more factors that you and me will never know or realise - Thus, the following statements that have been written in conjunction with Lauren herself are important to help you realise just how good the Bates and Wintec Isabell Saddle actually is. "Every time Lauren visits a client she will take them a range of saddles based on what she knows about the horse and situation, that range of saddles is never a constant because no two horses or riders are in the same situation. However, there is one constant, the Isabell dressage saddle, it would be very rare for Lauren to visit a dressage client and not put a Bates or Wintec Isabell into the options." "Time and time again the Bates or Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle has bridged the gap between a good fit and a very good fit. This fact cannot be said for any other saddle that we have ever come across!" The above fact is something that can only be measured by somebody who is fitting huge volumes of saddles at a truly professional level, over many many years. So please do consider this statement as a very comprehensive test in itself! Rider feed back is also a major measure of a saddles overall qualities. It must be said that the rider feed back on the Isabell dressage saddles is "Exceptional overall and has been for many many years". Although, that said, these saddles are very often horse pleasers, but they are not always rider pleasers, the saddle does have a particular feel that not everybody takes too, they are a very soft comfortable saddle which are credentials not everybody likes, especially those who come from the old school of dressage riding or those who are used to the old version of the Isabell saddles. We rarely hear complaints about block placement as thanks to the adjustable blocks these are easily adjusted to suit, some riders like the standard large blocks that come with the saddle, some riders prefer a smaller block, which can be sourced separately. Flap length is very rarely an issue, neither is the cantel height. The twist width is very average and tends to suit the average height rider, again the twist is rarely an issue to most riders. We do very occasionally run into clients who struggle with the physical adjustment of the saddles width, but this is very rare and anybody with a small degree of practicality can easily adjust these saddles without issue especially after a break in period. Some riders will prefer the feel of the Bates leather versions and some the grippy nature of the Wintec synthetic model, but that is simply an individual preference. The rider feedback with regards to the saddles build material is without doubt, overall, exceptional. The test of time is a measure that speaks for itself. We have saddles by some brands, in fact saddles even by Bates and Wintec that are specific in fit, quirky or just not to folks liking and based on the fact that we rarely direct sell or clear saddles, these models may sit on our rack for what seems like eons waiting for the right rider and horse combination. This is simply not the case with the Wintec and Bates Isabell, they are a steadfast option permanently! Any saddle that has been in production for over 25 years with minimal updates speaks for itself! The Olympian Isabell Werth OLY and the Olympic test! - In general, dressage riders who ride at the highest levels tend to have their equipment honed to a perfect degree. It needs not mentioning that Isabell Werth is without doubt one of the greatest Olympic and International dressage riders of all time. This saddle has not just had Isabell's name added to it as an endorsement, in fact Isabell was directly involved in the design and without her input there is potential that these saddles would not be the icons that they are today. I mentioned before that the Isabell Dressage saddle has been to the Olympics more times than any other saddle and I actually think that fact applies to the Wintec version, although I could be corrected. Many top level international dressage riders use the Isabell Dressage Saddle. Saddles Ireland's ambassador for correct saddle fit the Olympic rider Heike Holstein OLY had and as far as I know still has a Wintec Isabell in her tack room. Virtually all dressage trainers and top level riders that we work with have at least one Isabell Dressage Saddle. In fact I can recall Lauren telling me that she visited a high level dressage trainer who had 8 Wintec Isabell's in his tack room........ So although the above writings are not based on a single direct test, they do emphasise how successful this saddle is across a very broad spectrum. In fact just this review in itself is a test, frankly if the saddle was not worthy, we simply would not waste our time telling you about it.


How Does The Bates and Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle Ride?

Personally we do not ride in the Isabell Dressage Saddles, that's simply because we don't ride dressage! However we do have the feedback from our many riders and we will do our best to relay this to you!

To start with, some general purpose riders ride in dressage saddles, this is because the dressage saddle often provides a level of security and comfort, especially for those who like long hacks and everyday riding. Similarly some riders prefer a longer leg position which of course a dressage saddle will accommodate. The Isabell dressage saddle would be a very good option for those thinking that a dressage saddle could be the correct solution for their GP needs. The Isabell Dressage Saddle has a more open, deep seat than some other models. This means that there is more space in the seat which enables the rider to move their hips without being restricted and confined. The security of the saddle is not compromised by having an open seat, but balance is improved by encouraging an independent rider position. The Isabell saddle will not encourage the rider to slouch or let their pelvis rotate! What most riders report about the Isabell saddle is that they can feel their seat bones underneath them for the first time ever. This is a good thing! Most riders say that the saddle feels very stable on the horse, which allows them to ride more effectively and with purpose. The above points mentioned, combined with the grippy suede material of the Wintec version or the luxury calf skin of the Bates version really does offer an unsurpassed secure ride.


Build Quality And Bates, Wintec and Arena As Manufacturers.

Again no problems in these regards. The build quality of both the Bates and Wintec saddles also their newer counterparts the Arena brand are frankly exceptional. Most note worthy is the consistency, as you can imagine we have a lot of these brands through our hands and they are always A1.

The Isabell model is obviously no exception to this rule, the leathers used in the Bates version are always impeccable and remarkably consistent, the stitching is perfect always and they are super hard wearing and no matter the colour or leather choice the patina gets better with time, the Luxe versions are sublime. The synthetic Wintec Isabell is renowned for being ridiculously hard wearing without sacrificing comfort, the material is easily cleaned and can be hosed off after particularly messy rides. We regularly come across Wintec Isabell's that are still in use after 20+ years of riding, I think that is a plus one for value! You can't go wrong with these brands for quality! Bates, Wintec and Arena as manufacturers - These guys have it down! 10 out of 10. At Saddles Ireland and Saddles Europe we offer many brands, including quality used saddles, all chosen for their saddle fitting and quality credentials. No other company that we work with or have ever had the pleasure of dealing with has the consistency or professionalism of the Bates, Wintec and Arena brands in both their production and business model, we 'NEVER' have an issue when dealing with these guys on any level. So even if you you were unlucky enough to have a warranty claim with one of their saddles or products, which we have never experienced incidentally, we assure you there would be no issues, especially if you work through us at Saddles Ireland or Saddles Europe. There are only 2 minor quirks we come across with these saddles - 1. Over time the CAIR foam panels 'might' flatten off. Should this happen, rest assured that the replacements are ridiculously cheap to buy and are very easily fitted by ourselves at Saddles Ireland and Saddles Europe, these panels are usually readily available in the manufacturers inventory, even for old models of the Bates and Wintec saddles. However they are available only through authorised outlets as they are repair parts that can not be obtained on the open market, also they are specific to each and every saddle model and size, so please do contact us to ensure you are getting the job done correctly. If we have even one or two CAIR panel replacements a year I'd be very surprised and we fit and sell a lot of these saddles and have done for many years. It's not a major issue at all, but one you need to know about as this is an honest review. 2. The screws that fasten the adjustable gullets and outer parts of the Pommel are adorned with a Loctite glue to ensure the screw does not loosen, this glue can initially be a bit naughty for those with weak wrists, but after undoing and doing up the screws a few times this glue does in fact bed in nicely and keeps a secure fixing over many years. On the subject of the screws, it is very important to put them in squarely, not at an angle, this action could cross thread the screws if forced. Neither of these issues 'for want of a better word' have ever come back to us as issues with any regularity, again max once or twice a year, if at all. May I repeat it's an honest review, so you need the facts. There you have it, out of all the brands we deal with, Bates, Wintec and Arena are our top scorers for quality and as a company. 10 out of 10..... A1..... Across the board.


Variations, Availability and Prices for the Bates and Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddles.

OK, so we have established that the Isabell Dressage Saddle is available in both the Bates and Wintec versions. In our opinion both varieties of these saddles offer remarkable value, especially compared to the upper end European brands. It is our findings that both the Bates and Wintec Isabell dressage saddle will fit on average 10 Irish horses to every 1 horse that a big name European brand fits, YES, the reality is that stark and also a fact within our professional experience. I do need to add that both the Bates and the Wintec Isabell Dressage saddle was updated in 2019. This update did slightly change the feel of the saddle in comparison to the first incarnation. Fear not however, anybody new to the Isabell model knows no different, for those who have ridden in the first version you will find that the newer model is more modern like. The original Isabell had quite a solid feeling synthetic panel, where the newer model has a much softer panel. The older version had a larger footprint on the horses back, which could be seen as a pro or a con dependent on your saddle fitting approach, but in everyday terms this is rarely a factor worth mentioning. The old school Isabell riders will find the new version softer and more comfortable. Also the new model can be fitted with shims to balance out the panels curvature if required. The availability of both the Bates and Wintec Isabell Dressage saddle is very good, thanks to Bates, Wintec and our own ability to run our inventories impeccably. Both Saddles Ireland and Saddles Europe are part of the top 5 major outfitters for Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles in N. Europe, as such we have the ability to furnish our customers with immediate information on availability and exact leads times. Added to this we always carry several sizes of the Bates Isabell Dressage saddle for our saddle fitting consultations and we permanently have all sizes of the Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle available for our highly professional online trial facility. The Bates version of the Isabell Dressage Saddle is all leather, it is available in Black or Brown Opulence leather or in Black or Brown Luxe leather, in seat sizes 42cm/16.5", 43cm/17", 44cm/17.5" and 46cm/18". The Bates Isabell in Opulence leather has a RRP of €3264.00 inc VAT Our Price is €3130.00 inc VAT. The Bates Isabell in Luxe leather has a RRP of €3627.00 inc VAT Our Price is €3493.00 inc VAT. The Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle is fully synthetic, it is available in Black or Brown, in seat sizes 42cm/16.5", 43cm/17", 44cm/17.5" and 46cm/18". The Wintec Isabell in any seat size has a RRP of €1511.00 inc VAT Our Price is €1450.00 inc VAT. We have Wintec Isabell's for Test and Trial Online. All of our trial saddles come with FREE delivery in both Ireland and throughout Europe, there is Zero Obligation and the trial can come with FREE remote True Master Saddle Fitting Advice if you require. If you would like to explore the Bates or Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle through a True Master Saddle Fitting Consultation within Ireland. Click Here For Details. Prices are correct at the time of writing - But subject to change - We do our very best to keep our articles updated.


In Conclusion.

We can not emphasise enough how much experience we have with these saddles, we have been fitting them for many many years both new and used, please appreciate how much knowledge we hold on these saddles and that we only work with the horses and riders best interests at heart, trust our experience and this review!

The Bates and Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle, scores a solid 10/10 in every respect. We think that these saddles are truly awesome. When they fit, they fit really really well. They do not suit all horses and they do not suit all riders, BUT, on average they work in a huge variety of situations, giving massive scope from both a fitting and a riding standpoint. You will never be left hanging for service with ourselves or the manufacturers....again a solid 10/10 on all accounts. "If you are in the market for a dressage saddle be it leather or synthetic we heartedly recommend you explore the potential in the Isabell Dressage Saddle." But don't just rush out and buy one! You need to trial one, play with it and see if your horse takes to it! At Saddles Ireland and Saddles Europe we offer trials on virtually all of our saddles. It is a truly ridiculous prospect for you to buy a saddle without a trial or the option for a truly professional fitting service. The probability of a successful saddle purchase 'without' highly professional advice is very slim indeed. If you would like to trial and test a Bates or Wintec Isabell Dressage Saddle, with No Risk, Zero Obligation, FREE delivery in both Ireland and Mainland Europe, with or without FREE Remote True Master Saddle Fitting Advice then give us a call, email or Book a Trial Online. Click here to CONTACT US. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! and


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