The Definitive Guide to the Easy Change Riser System for the Bates, Wintec and Arena Range of Saddles - This is everything you will need to know about this class leading method for altering your saddle's panels.
This is Part 2 of a 3 part series exploring the systems used in the Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles and how amazingly adjustable these saddles actually are and how this benefits you and your horse.
Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles employ several layers of adjustability and state of the art technologies making these saddles the most adaptable in the world.
Part 2 - Bates, Wintec and Arena Saddle Risers - The Easy Change System
Part 3 - Bates, Wintec and Arena - Horse And Rider Technologies - The HART System
Saddles Ireland are experts in the supply of new and used saddles. We have fitted thousands of saddles and have decades worth of experience in all saddle brands and their models. It's for this reason that we are recognised as Ireland's leading saddle experts and able to advise you on all matters that are saddle related.
The aim of this guide is to answer any questions you may have on the Easy Change Riser System used by Bates, Wintec and Arena branded saddles. If you are new to this System, you will learn why you really should be considering it.
We sympathise with every rider who has issues with saddle fit. It's a tricky thing! But it's not all doom and gloom. There are things you can do to empower yourself and your saddle fitting prowess. A major thing you can do is to use an adjustable saddle system.
After fitting every combination of horse and rider, we have come to the conclusion that adjustable saddles are the way forward, without doubt.
We believe every saddle will be adjustable in the future. Indeed world leading Brands such as Bates, Fairfax, Wintec, Kent and Masters, GFS, Thorowgood, Ideal and Arena all produce adjustable saddles. Some, such as Bates, have been producing adjustable saddles for well over 40 years.
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What is the Easy Change Riser System?
The Easy Change Riser System used exclusively by Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles is a means of adjusting the panels via specifically shaped foam inserts to achieve and maintain even contact and saddle balance. It omits the requirement for correctional pads.
As explained in part 1 of this series, your horse can and regularly does change shape, so it makes sense to have a saddle that you can easily alter to match any changes encountered.
By utilising the Easy Change Gullet System and the Easy Change Riser System in combination, you will be employing the highest levels of adjustability found in any saddle. For the average DIY saddle fitter this heightened level of adjustability is paramount.
'Very basically' speaking there are two directional planes to consider when fitting a saddle -
The side to side aspect via the gullet as discussed in Part 1 of this article.
And the front to back aspect via the Panels, considering back shape, evenness and balance.
The Easy Change Riser System is a means of adjusting the saddles panels using specially developed high density foam inserts known as shims.
The shims sit inside pockets that run along the panels from the front to back of the saddle.
These shims are available in different thicknesses and can be used in combination to achieve the desired panel shape and balance.
The Easy Change Riser System is particularly handy when using the saddle across 2 or more horses. The rider can simply remove, add or swap out the shims to suit the next horse's confirmation.
Alternatives to the Easy Change System!
"The only saddles I can think of whereby the panels can be easily adjusted by the everyday rider, with a cost effective, reliable and permanent solution is the Bates, Arena and Wintec saddles that employ the Easy Change System".
There are other systems available, but in our honest opinion, the Easy Change System is the most versatile.
The alternative systems that are used by some manufacturers such as pump up air bags or removable panels known as modular saddles are in our experience unreliable or expensive and often 'quite specific' in their uses.
That is not to say they don't have their place, but these systems are, in our professional saddle fitting opinion, much less versatile when compared to the Easy Change System.
The Easy Change System is utilised in virtually every Bates, Wintec and Arena saddle no matter which confirmation or discipline the saddle is designed for.
What are Saddle Panels?
A saddle's panels run from front to back on the underside of the saddle on either side of the horse's spine. The saddle panels are the bearing surface that provide the contact and cushion between you, the rider, and the horse beneath.
It is of high importance that these panels have even contact along the horse's back so that there is no bridging or points of pressure.
Also, at no point along the panel's length should it elevate the saddle, putting it out of balance. An out of balance saddle will tip you forwards, backwards, or side to side. In combination with possible un-even contact, this will lead to pressure related issues due to unevenly distributing the rider's weight, and poor compensatory riding styles.
The channel that runs between the panels must allow enough width to accommodate the spine. We advise a minimum of three fingers width.
Below are examples of some panels on various Bates saddles.
The Saddle Panel's curvature is mostly determined by the Saddle's Tree Shape!
"The main distribution of contact along the horses back is taken up by the shape and contour of the saddle's panels - The main front to back curve is determined by the tree".
If the tree shape is wrong for your horse, it will require excessive adjustments of the panels to 'Make' the saddle fit!
Excessive compensatory flocking adjustments to the panel never work longterm! Any adjustments made simply oppose the saddles tree, settle out or distort, ultimately creating a whole host of saddle fitting issues!
Once the correct tree shape has been established, small incremental adjustments can be made to the panels, to create a flush finishing fit, if required.
This is where the Easy Change Riser System comes into play, to provide these adjustments.
It is of paramount importance for the correct tree shape to be employed before any adjustments to the panels are carried out. This rule applies to every single tree'd saddle ever made.
How do I Find the Correct Saddle Tree Shape for my Horse?
It's tricky for sure, but there are solutions! Some saddle manufacturers and specialist services such as Saddles Ireland, have worked very hard to offer such solutions!
It takes many, many years, thousands of saddle fits and the handling of thousands of saddles from every brand to know which models suit which horse conformations and back types.
As an amateur DIY saddle fitter, in all likelihood you will never gain this knowledge past the very basics.
Unfortunately, most DIY and amateur saddle fitters end up settling for a compromised fit to some degree or another.
Ultimately, it will be the changes your horse goes through that will upset the compromised fit, and the rider is back to square one.
This is the main reason why there is such a huge turnover of used saddles in the private market.
So what can you do as a DIY saddle fitter -
Seek highly qualified unbiased advice - Just Contact Saddles Ireland and save yourself an awful lot of trouble.
Search out brands that offer conformation specific saddles in combination with high adjustability.
Search out a facility that allows you to properly trial and test saddles so you can play with your options before you commit.
Brands that supply saddles with high adjustability and conformation specific saddles include -
Kent and Masters
The saddle that fits every horse is simply not possible. There is no such thing! Some specific models of saddles are very good at fitting a broad range of horses, and some brands are hugely adaptable in their approach to saddle fitting, such as the brands above.
But, there is no one saddle that fits all. Fact!
The above brands have developed adjustable solutions to help isolate saddles for specific fitting tasks and conformations, for example, and absolutely not limited to -
The High, Standard and Low wither saddles by Kent and Masters
The Wide series By Bates
The GFS Monarch Cob
The Cob saddles by Arena
The Pony specific saddles by Wintec
Pony specific saddles for leggy teenagers by Thorowgood
The Hunter Jumper saddle by Bates
The Elias by Fairfax
Just to name a few!
It must be noted - Just because a saddle has been designed for a specific conformation, it does not guarantee that the saddle will be the best match for you or the horse.
We highly recommend you seek Saddles Ireland's FREE True Master Saddle Fitting Advice with the famous Lauren Coxhead QSF SMS MSFC before diving into any saddle related decision.
The Risers used in the Bates, Arena and Wintec Saddles Easy Change System.
The panels in the Easy Change System are adjusted using high density, contoured and shaped, foam inserts. Otherwise known as risers or shims.
These inserts are available in different thicknesses: 4,8,12 and 16mm, and are specific to the discipline of each saddle.
They are sold in pairs or in kit form.
All Bates, Arena and Wintec Pony and Jump saddles utilise the Pony/Jump shims - These saddles utilise the 4mm and 8mm shims.
All Bates, Arena and Wintec GP, Show, Dressage and Speciality Saddles utilise the Standard shims - These saddles utilise all of the shim thicknesses 4mm, 8mm, 12mm, 16mm.
How are the Easy Change Shims fitted to the Bates, Arena and Wintec saddles?
The method of fitting the shims to the saddle is very, very simple!
When the saddle is flipped on to its back and the panels are facing upwards, one can see some heavy duty velcro seams that run on the upperside and along the full length of the saddle's panels. These seams are tucked up on what would be the top side of the saddles panels once the saddle is the correct way up. These seams are fully hidden and do not interfere with the saddles panels or fit what so ever. It's a very simple yet ingenious design.
Skip to 4m 25secs to see how the risers are fitted to the saddle.
Please Note - The risers in the smaller sized Pony and Jump saddles may need to be trimmed back slightly to allow for the closure of the velcro pocket.
Is the Easy Change Riser System expensive?
No, especially when compared to constantly dealing with saddle fit issues!
And do not forget, as mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the initial purchase price of the Bates, Arena and Wintec saddles are hugely competitive. Bates saddles offer immense quality and functionality for their cost, and are a best seller for Saddles Ireland. Our clients simply love them. Likewise, the Arena and Wintec saddles offer exceptional build quality and functionality at very reasonable prices.
Also, never forget Saddles Ireland specialise in you getting the right saddle either through our Saddle Trial Facility, or by having your Saddle Fitted by our True Master Saddle Fitter Lauren Coxhead SMS QSF MSFC in your own yard or home. These services alone save our clients hundreds, even thousands of euros by simply doing the job properly in the first place.
The Individual Pairs of Easy Change Riser Shims for any saddle, in all thicknesses, retail in Ireland at RRP €15 - Saddles Ireland's Price is just €8.80. The best price in Europe including the UK, and can be found HERE.
The Easy Change Pony/Jump Riser Shim Pack for the 'Bates, Arena and Wintec Pony and Jump saddles' have an Irish RRP of €79.00 - Saddles Ireland's Price is just €68.99. The best price in Europe including the UK.
This pack contains - 6 Pairs of small risers - Front Risers in 4mm and 8mm, Middle Risers in 4mm and 8mm, Rear Risers in 4mm and 8mm, an Easy Change Locating Tool and an instruction booklet. Purchase HERE.
The Easy Change Standard Riser Shim Starter Pack for the 'Bates, Arena and Wintec, Dressage, Show, Gp and Speciality saddles' have an Irish RRP of €79.00 - Saddles Ireland's Price is just €68.99. The best price in Europe including the UK.
This pack contains - 6 Pairs of risers - Front Risers in 4mm and 8mm, Middle Risers in 4mm and 8mm, Rear Risers in 4mm and 8mm, an Easy Change Locating Tool and an instruction booklet. Purchase HERE.
The Easy Change Standard Riser Shim Full Pack for the 'Bates, Arena and Wintec, Dressage, Show, Gp and Speciality saddles' have an Irish RRP of €103.00 - Saddles Ireland's Price is just €83.99. The best price in Europe including the UK.
This pack contains - 10 Pairs of risers - Front Risers in 4, 8, 12 and 16mm Middle Risers in 4mm and 8mm, Rear Risers in 4, 8, 12 and 16mm, an Easy Change Locating Tool and an instruction booklet. Purchase HERE.
Pros & Cons
You will need a screwdriver - We recommend the Philips No. 3 screwdriver or the Stanley Philips PZ2. Both are the kind found in any tool box.
The screws are factory supplied with an anti-undo compound that can initially be very stiff - But once undone the screws will easily go in and out, yet remain thread locked.
Initially the opening and closing of the Easy Change System can be a little confusing. But done once or twice the method becomes clear and apparent.
Easily adjust your saddle's panels and balance throughout the days, weeks, seasons and life of your horse.
Designed to be changed by riders so your horse can benefit from immediate results.
Enables the option to fit one saddle across more than one horse.
The shims can be purchased in pairs or kit form.
Easy Change riser kits and individual pairs of shims are easily sourced.
Compared to constant saddle fit issues and the associated costs, this system is cheap.
If you work with Saddles Ireland's trial facility, you can easily fit saddles yourself using the Easy Change adjustable system and FREE guidance from our True Master Saddle Fitter.
Any Cons are massively out weighed by the Pros. The Easy Change Riser System is a class leading design aimed at making it easy for the rider to adjust their saddle based on their constantly changing horse's shape.
"The Easy Change Riser System, in combination with the Easy Change Gullet System, has truly revolutionised saddle fitting for the everyday rider".
We are seeing the benefits of this fact daily.
Our aim is, and always will be, to empower our clients in saddle fit and to provide the very best saddle fitting service available, be it through trial, trials with consultation or through our famous Nationwide True Master Saddle Fitting Consultations.
Through many years of effort and business design, we have crafted and honed methods to do everything we can to ensure this goal. - The Easy Change System in its entirety is very much part of this empowerment.
This is a game changing revolution!