The Definitive Guide to the Horse and Rider Technologies that are employed in the Bates, Wintec and Arena Range of Saddles - This is everything you will need to know about HART.
This is Part 3 of a 3 part series exploring the systems used in the Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles, and how amazingly adjustable and adaptable 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. Collectively these technologies are known as HART or (H)orse (A)nd (R)ider (T)echnologies.
Part 1 - Bates, Wintec and Arena Saddle Gullets - The Easy Change System
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 HART 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.
Quick Find Contents
Which Saddles Use the HART System?
What Specifically are the Technologies Used in the HART System?
Does the HART Technology Guarantee a Matching Fit for Me and My Horse?
What is HART?
HART is a combined group of advancements and technologies that are utilised exclusively in the Bates, Arena and Wintec range of saddles to achieve optimal performance for both horse and rider.
H.A.R.T is an acronym for 'Horse And Rider Technology'.
HART as a collective aims to address the 5 major aspects that every saddle 'should' combine -
Your Horses Freedom of Movement
The Connection Between Horse and Rider
Horse and Rider Comfort
Overall Saddle Fit
Bates, Wintec and more recently Arena saddles are very much at the forefront of saddle advancement and design.
For many years, over 40 years in the case of Bates, these brands have been working hard to improve their saddles. In doing so the company has developed some exceptionally good and class leading designs.
This in turn has resulted in a combination of systems that are both extensive and extensively tested.
Let it be understood as fact that the technologies and systems in discussion are absolutely not gimmicks.
"As True Master Saddle Fitters who fit thousands of horses with all brands of saddles, both new and used, we have proven time and time again, that the features used in the Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles do in fact work together staggeringly well to enhance saddle fit, comfort and adjustability".
Which Saddles Use the HART System!
Virtually all Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles employ the HART technology in full.
The HART technologies are exclusively used in the Bates, Arena and Wintec range of saddles 'ONLY'.
HART is not used in any other brand of saddles.
The full HART system is used in all Bates, Arena and most Wintec saddles by default. However there are one or two saddles such as the Wintec 250 All Purpose GP, the Bates and Wintec Stock Saddles and the Wintec Kids Saddle that employ limited aspects of the HART system.
Only the saddles that bare the HART logo use the technologies in full combination.
What Specifically are the Technologies Used in the HART System?
"The HART technologies used in the Bates, Arena and Wintec saddles work beautifully in combination, but any one of them singularly would work exceptionally well also".
The individual components of the HART technologies range from fairly standard to just down right ingenious.
None of the technologies are flimsy or gimmicky.
Regardless of brand, we believe that as ambassadors and true purveyors of correct saddle fit and it's importance, it is our duty to praise and raise the profile of any outstanding advancements in saddle technologies! Especially those that work towards increased saddle fit potential, increased comfort and increased performance for both the horse and the rider.
We truly believe the following technologies used in the HART collective do just that.
1. The Elastiflex™ Tree -
A massively important component of any saddle is the tree. The tree is the skeleton of any tree'd saddle.
Just like any good wall must be built on a good foundation - A saddle must be too. The saddle tree is this supporting foundation.
The Elastiflex™ Tree is a flexible tree which is designed to be rigid through the length of the saddle, but flexible from side to side. This allows lateral flexion which facilitates the increased movements of the horses muscles. Essentially the saddle's tree works with the horse's motions in a natural manner.
The flexible nature allows the easy adjustments of the saddle's width by using changeable gullet plates.
The Elastiflex™ Trees are exceptionally lightweight compared to the traditional wooden, metal and fibre trees and they are incredibly strong also, maintaining their shape and flex over extended periods of time.
2. The CAIR Cushion System -
The Cair System has been arguably one of, if not the largest improvements in saddle design ever!
Essentially the Cair system has been designed to replace the use of the traditional flocking materials along the saddle's panels.
This is achieved by using sealed cushions. Each cushion is made from a durable plastic casing that contains a special foam and air combination. The casing is then sealed to lock in the cushioning effect.
Two of these cushions are placed within each saddle panel, one front and one back. So that is 4 Cair cushions per saddle.
By using this system, the saddle, the rider and horse all work in unison. The levels of impact are drastically reduced, to provide a more cushioned ride.
The concept of using air and foam as cushioning is obvious. It is the design and containment of the cushioning effect that is important.
The Cair system, unlike any other system, has successfully designed a cushion that consistently maintains the cushioning effect and does not readily leak. This system is proven by time.
In short, Cair provides -
Exceptional cushioning for the horse and rider.
It omits the need for consistent and skilled flocking adjustments.
It provides a specific riding feel.
The cushions can leak, but this is rare and usually only seen in well used or older saddles.
The cushions are cheap and easy to replace.
The Cair cushions are not universal, they are specific to each model and size of saddle.
In combination with the Elastiflex™ Tree, Cair provides an exceptionally good, adaptive, cushioning system.
3. The Easy Change Fit Solution -
The Easy Change Fit Solution is a combination of the Easy Change Gullet System and the Easy Change Riser System, both of which have been discussed in depth in part 1 and 2 of this series.
In brief, the Easy Change Gullet System allows for the easy changing of the saddle's width from Narrow to Extra Wide or from Extra Wide to Extra Extra Extra Extra Wide in the case of the Wide series saddles, by using nothing more than a screw driver and removable gullet plates.
The Easy Change Riser System allows for the easy adjustment of the saddle's panels using nothing more than readily available foam inserts. This system omits the issues associated with flocking.
I think the best bit about the Easy Change Fit solution -
"Is the fact that it is completely adaptable, completely reversible and really really easy to implement."
The potential for being able to change the width and adjust the panels of your saddle during and after the initial saddle fitting is mind bending. It simply opens a whole world of potential. This is hugely empowering for the every day rider.
To have this level of adjustability is revolutionary.
4. The Performance Panel Technology -
In general when you look at the panels of everyday saddles, they tend to be very traditional and basic.
In fact we have seen brand new saddles where the panels are not square, even or symmetrical.
This is really not the case with the Bates, Wintec and Arena saddles that employ the HART system. The panel patterns are very uniform and consistent with a generous footprint. The edges of the panels have a gradual taper for seamless and even transfer of the rider's weight.
The tailoring of the panels is designed to ensure maximum clearance for the horse's spine whilst facilitating the easy lift adjustments using the Easy Change Risers to achieve perfect balance, stability and evenness.
This level of detail is hugely important as the panels form the bearing surface between you and your horse.
The fact is the panel components deserve huge attention! Any saddle employing the HART technologies are certain to receive the required attention.
Take a look at any Bates, Wintec or Arena saddle and you will see exquisitely contoured and shapely panels, virtually all of which are adjustable and generically designed to cover a wide array of horse conformations.
5. Comfort Seat Technology -
"The 'Seat' is a generic term that encompasses the area where the rider sits. This seat area needs to work in harmony with the saddle in its entirety, otherwise the risk of opposing factors are created."
The seat takes into account the nature of the tree, including the twist which is generically designed for the preference of most riders. Then there is the tree padding via layered foam, stirrup bar ergonomics and positioning and the adjustable padded knee and thigh blocks.
The Foam layered Tree - The anatomical, flexible, generic and comfortable design of the Elastiflex tree works with you and your horse in combination.
The seat area is specifically sculpted and contoured with layered foam to provide optimal balance without degrading comfort levels over time. In fact, saddles that employ the HART seat technology, tend to become more comfortable over time as they bed to your specific posture.
Stirrup Bar - The placement of the saddles stirrup bar is of paramount importance. Too far forward or too far backwards and the stirrup bar will compromise the potential to fit the broadest range of riders. Through constant design and development these specifics have been realised and built into every Bates, Arena and Wintec saddle's seat.
Blocks - When you combine the Elastiflex™ Tree, the specific foam layering and optimised ergonomic stirrup bar, with moveable and fully adjustable knee and thigh blocks, it becomes clear that the potential for the most secure and comfortable saddle ever has been realised.
Does the HART Technology Guarantee a Matching Fit for Me and My Horse?
No, I am afraid not! There are no saddles, regardless of make or model, that fit all horse and riders! It's just simply not possible!
This is why you as a rider and DIY saddle fitter must arm yourself with as much knowledge and equipment to give you the best range of scope and chance of success, such as the HART system.
If ever there is a manufacturer doing everything in their power to produce a range of saddles that cover the widest possible spectrum of scenarios from fit to budget, it surely has to be the Bates, Wintec and Arena brand of saddles.
We highly recommend the exploration of these brands for any DIY saddle fitter, especially those who have less experience or for those who require the highest levels of versatility.
Our Chief Advisor and the famed True Master Saddle Fitter Lauren Coxhead SMS QSF MSFC is without doubt the most honest, professional, qualified and caring individual you would ever have the pleasure of meeting. A couple of years ago I asked her for a brief comment on the Bates saddles. This is what she said -
"Bates are truly outstanding! The more I work with Bates saddles the more I realise that they are the ones. Pretty much un-equalled".
So there you have it. Very high praise indeed.
"The Bates, Wintec and Arena Saddles That Employ the HART saddle technologies are truly outstanding in their versatility."
It's hard to write a product review for a product when, as an organisation, we are one of the largest outfitters for that brand in the Northern Hemisphere.
Because everything we say just sounds like the product is being 'up sold'. I fully understand this. I am also highly conscious of this fact.
Trust me, we really do not need to lie, bend the truth or up-sell products. In fact we don't even need to advertise our services.....Our clients trust us implicitly and rightfully so. It's why we exist.
"What we would like you to understand as a potential client or brand purchaser is that Saddles Ireland only endorse saddles and brands that are exceptionally good or brilliant, when viewed from an improved quality of fit standpoint".
We work hard everyday to empower our clients in saddle fit and to provide the very best saddle fitting services available, be it through -
Saddle Trials with FREE remote consultation
Or through our famous Nationwide True Master Saddle Fitting Consultations
Essentially if we take the trouble to write a 3 part series on how brilliant a product actually is, then it is not to deceive you.
It is in fact because in our Professional Master Saddle Fitting opinion,
"You really need to know about it".
"The Bates, Arena and Wintec Saddles, the HART system and the Technologies they employ are brilliant and very much worth the attention of any rider, regardless of their saddle fitting ability - They are an outstanding achievement!"