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.
- 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!