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Reviews/opinions of new Bates Victrix saddle line ?

What are your experiences/opinions/reviews of the new Victrix saddle line from Bates? I sat in a demo model at Dover Saddlery, and I was surprised how comfortable and well-balanced it seemed without being overly “squishy” and soft like many French and Italian saddles. HOWEVER…a couple things concerned me, and I’m curious if others have experiences with this model.

  1. calf Luxe leather? Bates advertises this like it’s something very fancy, but “Luxe” is a non-regulated term in the leather industry. What actually IS Luxe Leather? What part of the calf? 2) Victrix saddles have CAIR panels? CAIR panels are filled with air instead of traditional flocking. Do these air panels ever pop? Leak? How sensitive are these panels to puncture or leaking? 3) Longevity? I can’t find any notable pro equestrians riding in this saddle. It’s relatively new, so this makes sense, but it worries me I can’t find any reviews of it from anyone other than Bates themselves! 4) Elastiflex saddle tree? The idea behind this type of tree makes sense, and I know other saddlers have used similar tech for awhile (I think of the popular Circle Y western saddle company). Experiences with this type of tree? 5) Anyone run into issues with Velcro use for the adjustable knee and calf blocks? Does the Velcro lose stick over time, especially if it gets wet, and/or the more it’s exposed to dirt and dust and grime of barn life?
    The kicker for me is that the Victrix was REALLY comfy to sit in, genuinely pretty, and the perks of adjustable gullet, ergonomic stirrup bar, and adjustable knee and calf blocks are so tempting. Plus I like this Dover store’s saddle fitter, she seems knowledgeable, and she said she’s sold a ton of Victrix saddles to trainers, pros, and horse show judges alike around this USHJA zone. All of them have told her their horses love this saddle.
    Might help folks to know I’m currently a h/j trainer and instructor at an A-level show barn; I primarily show in the jumpers, but I ride hunters, eq, and pony mounts for the lesson program and barn clients, too. I currently ride in a 17in Cliff Barnsby, Milton model (has a forward flap with calf and knee blocks). I LOVE my saddle, but I’ve been riding it since I was an older teen, and I’m now 30. Can’t ignore the fact any longer: I need a 17.5in seat, and Barnsby saddles are out of production otherwise I’d just buy another Barnsby. I prefer a utilitarian, no nonsense, no frills approach to h/j saddles so the more mid-tier Bates brand appealed to me. It seems more focused on fit and adaptability between disciplines than a lot of the high-end, buttery-soft leather (lovely, but not great for swapping between different horses throughout a day), 5k+ price point brands.
    Please illuminate me, Chronicle forum users! I don’t know what to do!

I know this is an old thread but wanted to comment for future searchers of this saddle.

I have a victrix, purchased 6 months ago on a clear out sale for $3400cdn.

I wanted it for the versatility for my young horses and lessen the wear and tear on my expensive saddle.

I have never had any issues with the Velcro. It is very hard and hooked Velcro. Very sticky and the pressure of your leg really secures the hooks and loops. They can be hard to pull off at times for adjusting actually. The fact that you can remove the thigh or rear blocks is really nice.

I don’t think we will ever know what type of calkskin it is other than calf, like most saddles. Leather is grippy and soft but not the type that will wear prematurely.

I have had other Bates in the past and no problems with the trees. They are actually one of my preferred saddles pending they fit your horse.
(I find they fit a flatter and rounder back with a lower or at least thick wither. Have a tough time fitting the TB type Iberians).

I do appreciate the adjustable stirrup bar. I don’t have a long thigh. I have a shorter thigh and long lower leg.

The seat is rather flat but soft once my breaks in, however I do like this on the longer and flatter moving horses. Not the best for the hot types.

The panels do tend to have a bit more bounce to the seat but it seems to be kinder to my spine.

Overall, it’s basically the ‘upgraded’ version of a regular bates. Like a car, you get more bells a whistles for the price. Not sure it’s worth the usual 5k cdn they usually sell for here yet the saddle fits my body composition better than my CWDs and even my full custom saddle.

Good buy if you get it on sale.

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