Synthetic Saddles: 6 Types Described & Compared

Synthetic saddles have been around for quite some time now. They are made of materials that are not found in regular saddles. This makes them a popular choice for many people. There are several reasons why people might choose to buy a synthetic saddle. Some of the benefits include being lighter in weight, less expensive, and easier to care for than traditional leather saddles. Additionally, they do not need to be oiled or conditioned like leather saddles do, which can be a big plus for some riders.

Any horse enthusiast can attest to the fact that equipment is becoming more and more expensive. As a result, many individuals are seeking alternative products that will provide the same benefits at a lower cost. Synthetic saddles are such an item that as a result have increased in popularity. They are indeed much cheaper than a quality leather saddle, but there are many other reasons to consider purchasing one.

Equileather, a material commonly used in the manufacture of synthetic saddles, can be cleaned simply by wiping with a damp rag. In addition, it never requires any type of oil or break-in process. Another commonly used material is Cordura, which is equally durable and also renders special care unnecessary.

The weight of a leather saddle can be very difficult to manage, but synthetic saddles weigh much less due to their materials. As a result, they can be much easier to use and may simplify the dressing process. Finding an appropriate storage place for a synthetic saddle is no difficult task, as they are usually light enough to be hung practically anywhere.

There truly is a synthetic saddle available for virtually any taste, and the styles available range from very traditional to very modern. A wide array of bright colours can be selected, or a more traditional leather look may be more what a person is looking for. Some equileather saddles are virtually impossible to distinguish from leather saddles.

Many people originally choose a one due to the significant price difference, but owners will quickly realize that there are many other benefits as well. Many attest to their greater support and added grip. Brands like Wintec saddles are widely available at stockists all over the UK.

Synthetic Saddles: 6 Types Described & Compared
Photo by Weigler Godoy on Unsplash

Synthetic Dressage Saddles

For many competitive and exhibition riders, everything revolves around dressage. A system of training designed to truly showcase the abilities of both horse and rider, proper dressage should appear effortless and relaxed, with horse and rider flowing from movement to movement as naturally as breathing. Such execution requires excellent control, and similarly outstanding equipment. In particular, it requires a good dressage saddle.

The dressage saddle is distinguished from other English saddles by two features, in particular, the first being a very deep riding seat and the second a long, straight-cut flap. The deep seat allows the rider to feel more secure during the many changes of position required in dressage performance, leaving the rider free to focus on guiding the horse instead of fighting to remain seated. The longer flap allows the rider to stretch out their legs, instead of keeping them high and tight as do competitive jumpers. Both these features are intended to keep the rider focused on the matter of making the gentle, almost invisible motions required to steer the horse through a proper dressage routine, giving them much more control than a jumping or general-purpose saddle.

There is a case to be made for using a synthetic dressage saddle over a leather version, specifically relating to the weight. The weight savings of a synthetic allows a rider to execute commands to the horse with less pressure than the denser leather saddle would require, as well as making less demand on the horse’s endurance in competitions. In addition, there is the practical consideration of reduced initial and maintenance costs for synthetic saddles, and less time spent maintaining is more time spent caring for the horse itself, and more time out riding.

Synthetic Jumping Saddles

For the discerning rider, there is no substitution for a good, high-quality jumping saddle. Jumping saddles come with a slight curve in the seat, wide padded flaps to give good knee support, and a short stirrup length, all tailored to keep the rider firmly in the saddle during the most rigorous of leaps. For these reasons, jumping saddles are frequently called close-contact or forward-seat saddles. Other features include a balance set further back than in traditional eventing saddles, and a low pommel that won’t get in the way of a rider’s posture.

Just as in other types, jumping saddles can come in traditional leather or synthetic materials, such as Cordura. There is a substantial debate about which material is superior, just as there is in many other competitive sports. However, synthetic materials do offer significant advantages over leather saddles that interested riders may wish to consider.

Foremost is that synthetic saddles are typically lighter than leather saddles. Saddles are heavy, and the longer a heavy weight rests on a horse, the more wear and tear on that horse’s muscles. Riders looking to spend a lot of time in the saddle can give their animal a break by reducing the load carried.

Leather saddles also, due to material costs, production means, and overall popularity, cost more than synthetic models. Horse riding is expensive, and a good synthetic saddle will offer similar durability to a leather version for less investment. Finally, all it takes to properly maintain a leather saddle is a damp cloth, rather than the oils and conditioners required to keep a leather saddle in good condition.

While leather saddles are by no means an inferior choice, synthetic jumping saddles are a viable option for riders looking for a lower cost, equal quality alternative.

Synthetic Western Saddles

Synthetic Western saddles offer riders of every level an economical alternative to traditional leather saddles. Cost isn’t the only benefit of synthetic Western saddles though. Not only is going the synthetic route less expensive, but because synthetic materials are more durable your new saddle will age better and last longer. The materials used to make synthetic Western saddles (biothane, equileather, cordura, and equisuede) are less porous and absorbent than leather, making them much easier to clean and more resistant to water damage. You don’t have to oil your synthetic Western saddle to keep it looking shiny and new; a quick swipe with a moist cloth and dish soap will do the job!

Synthetic Western saddles are also much lighter than their leather counterparts, making them an ideal choice for trail riding. You’ll immediately notice how easy it is to carry around a synthetic saddle and will no doubt appreciate the load it takes off of you. We’re sure your horse will appreciate the lighter saddle too! Going synthetic doesn’t mean fewer choices either. Synthetic Western saddles come in many styles and even offer some colour options you can’t get in leather.

Synthetic Western saddles are made for pleasure, trail riding, speed events and showing. In every field, they offer unique benefits. Pleasure riders will enjoy the extra padding in the seat while trail riders will appreciate how well their synthetic Western saddle stands up to hard use. Barrel racers will shave pounds off the weight of their rig while young showmen will catch the judge’s eye with unique colours and patterns.

Synthetic Endurance Saddle

Endurance saddles are specially designed for equestrian sports involving regulated long-distance races. Since endurance riding pertains to the coverage of long patches of rough and challenging terrain for multiple days, it is essential to confirm that the rider is well-balanced on the horse. Endurance saddles provide exceptional comfort to both the rider and the horse.

To make it easy for the rider, the saddle seat is padded or quilted, and the stirrups are fitted with a broad foot tread that allays fatigue.

As for the horse, the exhaustion suffered by it depends on the intensity of the pressure inflicted by the saddle on its back. To counter it, the saddle’s area of contact with the back of the horse is enlarged by extending its panel skirts. A saddle design like this facilitates the load on the horse’s back to spread evenly while dispersing the sweat on its body. The concept of floating panels also works well with endurance saddles as it enables the riders to have their seat out of the saddle, to lower the stress on the horse’s back.

Although traditionally saddles were only made of leather, a lot of innovation has been brought about in the modern way of manufacturing endurance saddles. Synthetic saddles, which are light and easy to maintain, are being widely used for endurance riding. These saddles are mostly made of the following materials:

  • Cordura: It’s a durable fabric that’s resistant to scuffs or abrasions, and is easy to clean.
  • Equileather: It’s a low-maintenance material with a leather-like appearance. It repels sweat and remains elastic in cold temperatures.
  • Equisuede: It is a non-slippery foam that offers a good grip while riding.
  • BioThane and Beta BioThane: ‘Biothane’ is comprised of nylon draped in thermoplastic polyurethane whereas ‘Beta BioThane’ is vinyl coated ‘BioThane’. They are both durable and water-resistant.

Synthetic Show Saddles

Show saddles are designed more for use in the show ring rather than for endurance riding or other equestrian events. There are two main styles of saddles in general, Western or English. Depending on the discipline or style of riding one wants to do, one can choose either a Western show saddle or an English saddle.

Several significant differences exist between English and Western saddles. There’s no padding between the tree and the external leather and fleece skirting in a Western saddle. Where the Western saddle generally has a horn, the English saddle lacks one and is not as deep-seated. The English saddle is also distinguished by its panels, and pads attached to the underside of the seat.

The English show saddle is built on a solid tree, with leather and padding materials added. The tree is made of laminated layers of top-quality wood reinforced by spring steel and riveted gullet plates. These trees, called ‘spring trees’, are adjustable.

The traditional show saddle is minimal and has a close fit, with straight-cut flaps. The stirrup is further forward with the cutback pommel behind instead of over the withers. The rider has little support. In comparison, modern-style English show saddles have a dressage-like form, with vertically cut flaps to give the rider a deeper seat.

Western show saddles are constructed on an all-purpose tree but have extra tooling and adornments, such as silver or crystals. The adornment ranges from light to highly elaborate. Because the silver is both weighty and expensive, these saddles aren’t the best for everyday riding.

Show saddles come in both synthetic materials and leather. Leather is traditional, holding its value well over time, but synthetic saddles have several excellent advantages. The price of a quality synthetic show saddle is much less than that of a leather one. Synthetic saddles are lightweight, half the weight of a leather saddle. They are also easier to maintain, needing only to be wiped with a damp cloth.

Synthetic Side-Saddles

Leather and synthetic side saddles come in a range of different styles and materials. They are used for a wide range of purposes, as well. Side saddles are often called lady saddles because they are and have most often been used by women to ride in a side saddle position more easily and comfortably. They can be made customized to a client’s personal preferences and specifications. Side saddles can differ in grade, size, pattern, style, texture, and colour. It all depends on what material is used. Most often, leather is used because of its durability and comfort. A synthetic side saddle can also be a comfortable and durable saddle but is less commonly used.

Many high-quality side saddles are available. They are still more widely used than most people realize. Side saddles have changed greatly over the years. They started as a saddle used to carry women modestly, but they weren’t very good for doing much more than a slow trot when it came to seating the rider correctly. Side saddles of today have been specially formulated to help with special jumps and strategic moves. Even the military has a special side saddle that is used for special operations. Sometimes a side saddle can be more effective with certain types of equestrian jumps.

Just keep in mind that a horse has to be taught to become accustomed to using a side saddle. Once it has grown accustomed to a side saddle, a horse will excel in its use. An ill-fitting saddle can cause back problems, and this is especially true with an ill-fitting side saddle. Make sure to get a high-quality side saddle that keeps the horse and rider both as comfortable and functional as possible.

Wintec Saddles

Wintec is one of the world’s leading saddle manufacturers, and their products are known for their quality, comfort, and durability. The company offers a wide range of saddle designs to suit every rider’s needs, and their products are used by many of the world’s top riders who require discipline specific saddles.

Wintec saddles are made from high-quality materials and are designed to provide maximum comfort and support. The company’s innovative designs and attention to detail make their products some of the most popular on the market. Whether you’re looking for a saddle for dressage, show jumping, or eventing, Wintec has a product to suit your needs.

With a wide range of sizes and designs available, you’re sure to find a selection of new saddles, any one of which will be right for your horse, and for you.

In Summary

There are many benefits of using synthetic saddles over leather saddles when riding horses. One of the most important is that they provide a more balanced rider position, which is crucial for discipline-specific riding (such as dressage) and pleasure riding. They also allow for a stronger dressage position, as well as a more comfortable and relaxed posture when riding for long periods of time.

Another huge benefit of synthetic saddles is that they are extremely versatile and can be used for multiple disciplines. This is due to their specialist conformation, which ensures an optimal balance for the horse and rider. Additionally, the saddle panel is designed to fit the shape of the horse’s back perfectly, preventing any discomfort or rubbing.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of synthetic saddles is that they are much easier to care for than leather saddles. They do not require any special cleaning or maintenance, and can be quickly and easily cleaned with a damp cloth. Additionally, they come with an easy change gullet system and easy change riser system, which makes adjusting the fit to your horse extremely simple.

Overall, synthetic saddles are a great option for riders who want a saddle that is comfortable, versatile, and easy to care for. They provide a more balanced position for both horse and rider, making them ideal for multiple disciplines. Additionally, their innovative design ensures an optimal fit for each horse’s back shape.

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