Synthetic vs Leather Wintec All Purpose Saddle

This topic contains 11 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Joe-Joe Joe-Joe 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • janakay Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 4

    Hello! First time here, but I’m wondering if anyone might have some advice or opinions for me. I have ridden Western style for decades, but 3-4 years ago I started riding English and learned to jump. However, I still spend most of my time on the trail, (love riding in the mountains!) and even jumping on the trails. So I have now almost completely transitioned from my Western saddle to my English saddle, even for all of the trails. I initially purchased a synthetic Wintec All-Purpose saddle, because it was less expensive than the leather. My thinking was that I wanted to make sure I liked it, and if so, I would upgrade to the leather. Well, I liked it so much that I am already starting to wear the synthetic fiber down, and am thinking that I will soon need to replace it. However, although I assumed that I would replace it with a leather saddle, now I am not sure. I always ride in jeans, which “stick” just fine to the synthetic material. But I am afraid that if I go back to leather, being an English style saddle and not Western, that I will find it too “slippery” with not enough grip, especially for jumping. What are your thoughts on synthetic vs leather All-Purpose saddles when riding in jeans? Will I regret upgrading to leather or will I get used to it? But I also don’t want to have to replace a synthetic saddle every few years. Thoughts? Thank you for your time!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    I prefer leather, but I have been riding for over 50 years, and the synthetics weren’t invented then. I do have a synthetic exercise saddle, and it is way more slippery than any leather saddle I have ever used. Over time, I have ridden in breeches, jeans, chaps and shorts, and the only issue ever was sticking too much to the leather due to sweating in shorts during seriously hot weather. If your seat is good and you use your muscles correctly, slipping should never be an issue. My forward seat Stubben is 47 years old, and in great shape. So long as you keep your tack clean and well-cared for, a decent leather saddle should last a lifetime. Or longer – it could become an heirloom. The one a friend uses is over 80 years old.

    It is never the horse's fault

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    Welcome, Janakay!!
    I also prefer leather (and have been riding for over 50 years : ) as I like the more permanent leg “home” that develops in a leather as opposed to re-establishing “home” every time one rides (and at the END of the ride, of course..). Personal preference, not a judgement. Go with what fits you, your horse, your budget and your activities. Synthetic materials and tack have come a long way since first available so my opinion comes with a huge grain of salt and might require an update : )

    On the plus side: synthetics are light to carry for rider AND horse, easy to keep, affordable and readily available. Bother to be particular about the fit with ANY saddle.

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Synthetics can cause more sweat in a horse, but I don’t know how much that would be a factor in making a decision. As to affordability, depending on how long a synthetic saddle will last, in the long run it might be cheaper to get a decent leather one.

    As Pheets says, fit is the most important thing, for horse and rider.

    It is never the horse's fault

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    All saddles will promote sweat under them if the horse is working. Maybe not as soon as a synthetic but sweat will occur, regardless, if the horse is working. The choice of saddle pad will determine whether horse gets wet, the pad wicks well or the saddle absorbs. Be equally particular about pads!

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    So true, Pheets. Sweat happens. Pads should be considered for fit and absorbency (is that a word?) just as carefully as choosing a saddle. A poorly fitting pad can create a whole raft of problems.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    You will likely prefer the leather as it ‘gives’ better to the motion of the horse allowing for better contact, which is the goal I assume in switching to an English saddle. I trail ride also, and have a Tucker equitation saddle – marries the western and english styles – with no horn and English leathers. After the fifth or so mile, I’m grateful for the extra comfort in my saddle. Leather is heavier and requires more upkeep, but should last as long as you do. In summer I ride in lightweight cotton and don’t slip, but the position and fit of the seat in my saddle has a lot more to do with that than the leather. If you are springing for the extra cost of leather, confirm fit for both of you; that more than anything else will determine how much slippage your posterior will do in the saddle seat.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    If your main concern is the slipperiness of leather compared to the synthetic saddle materials, try full seat breeches. They make a huge difference in the amount the rider will slide around in the saddle, or more accurately, how much the rider will NOT slide around. They come in both leather full seats & synthetic full seats. I much prefer the synthetic, which is less expensive and easier to wash and dry. One can throw the synthetic version in the washer & the dryer, but leather seats must be line dried, and often hand washed.

    wyoenglishrider wyoenglishrider
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 101

    Another vote for transitioning to a leather saddle….in fact, I have always bought mine “used”—& I prefer them better that way than riding in/buying a new one. You can usually (depending on where you are) get a good quality used saddle-already broken in! 🙂 And as Joe-Joe said, if you get a great quality like a Stubben or Courbette or along those lines, it will last you a l-o-n-g time. Also seconding what G & S said–I, personally, cannot ride in jeans–the seams rub me all sorts of wrong–so I ride in breeches. If you haven’t tried them-they are super comfy with no seams on the inside. Light weight, heavy weight, cotton, synthetic-you name it, they make them. Either full seat, Euro seat or knee patch – and you don’t have to have tall boots, paddocks work just fine. 🙂

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    A well broken-in leather saddle should not present anyone with slipping issues, in my own experience. Another alternative to tall boots would be half chaps. I prefer the suede over the leather, because I only use them when wearing shorts, and the leather ones are more rigid at the top. Or just ride barefoot and without stirrups. We not only have heat, we have humidity to beat the band here. The less I have to wear in the summer, the happier I am about it.

    It is never the horse's fault

    janakay Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 4

    Thank you all for your replies. Food for thought. However….I have tried breeches in the past, and they are not for me. Jeans are the most comfortable lifestyle choice for me. I am well-versed in saddle fit, having taken horses to custom saddle makers in the past, and this is why I choose to stick with the Wintec saddles. I am an excellent rider, having even roped and jumped bareback, so I do not feel that is the issue. I have an antique western saddle, which is actually the cause for my initial question, because it is so slicked up that it’s like trying to ride a slipper-slide. That said, at least no one replied that they regretted having a a leather English saddle, and upon further thought, I think the difference is that there is so much more contact with the horse, that it is not an issue like with the western saddles where you are only contacting leather. Therefore, I think I will choose the leather after all. Thank you!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Jana – I hope you find a saddle with which you will be comfortable and happy for the rest of forever!

    It is never the horse's fault

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