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Bates Caprilli Close Contact

Bates Saddles
- Item #16089
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As riders and online shoppers, we know it can be tough to buy a new bridle or pair of boots without trying them on. That's why we moved the fitting room to your living room (or barn)! From breeches to blankets, if you or your horse can try it on, you can return it, free! Just use the pre-paid return label included in your order within 60 days from the purchase date. And of course, please make sure the item is in like-new condition with original packaging (we said 'fitting room', not 'war room'!).

Why We Love This

Designed for riders who recognize the impact of saddle design on their performance, the Bates Caprilli is ideal for show jumping, eventing, and hunters.

Favorite Features

  • CAIR® Panel System for better performance and freer movement of horse
  • Easy-Change Gullet System allows the saddle to be fitted to suit the horse's changing shape
  • Deeper seat than most other jumping saddles for extra stability
  • Short stitched triple girth points for extra safety
  • Adjustable Flexibloc System to provide a more secure position for the rider

Sizing It Up

16½"-18" seat
Short, Regular, Long or Forward flap
Tree: Elastiflex Tree
Tree Widths: Easy-Change Gullet
Panel: CAIR® Panel System (Air Panels)
Flap: Forward in Regular or Long
Blocks/Rolls: Flexibloc System
Seat: Deep, French Style (Wider Width Seat)


Test Ride this saddle! Click here for details.
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    out of 5
    89% of customers would recommend this product to a friend!
    Tell us what you think!

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    Bates Caprilli Close Contact is rated 4.4444 out of 5 by 18.
    Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent for the money Nice enough saddle for the price. The Cair panels didn't fit my 16.0h Hanoverian though and bridged in the middle. The leather and was okay and the seat was comfortable, but I wasn't a fan of the color - looked like a fake medium brown color. Overall though, a decent saddle for a lower-end price.
    Date published: 2013-04-06
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Saddle for the money I purchased my Caprilli in 2010, and have received many compliments on it. I ordered the light colored brown saddle, but it oiled up to almost a Havanna brown. The leather is soft, supple, and the seat is sticky. The one complaint I have is that last year the saddle seat developed some "raised marks" that look like dirt or fungus deposits, but they aren't. No one is able to figure out what they actually are or how to remove them. They haven't had any effect anything other than some of the cosmetic appeal. As others have mentioned, the interchangeable gullet system is excellent - though hard to do the first time, and the saddle moves and conforms nicely to my horse. Now that my saddle is a couple of years old, my concern is with how well it will stand up. So far no issues.
    Date published: 2013-03-07
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from thrilled! LOVE this saddle, it has made a world of difference to me & my horse. The XCHANGE system is super easy after you've done it once or twice. The CAIR panels are cushy and have a lot of surface area, spreading weight around nicely. Since having this saddle, my horse's back has visibly muscled up on top (as her back is no longer pinched!) and she moves much more freely through the shoulder and hips. Though it took a bit of adjusting to (as expected), the saddle feels great to ride in and has a wonderful balance. I like the option of the moveable blocks, but I have been riding without them. My first and only gripes are that Smartpak needs to update its product info; the saddle looks closer to the Bates Elevation than the older-style Caprillis shown here. Also, my saddle arrived in just a box and a thin sheet of foam, and the edges of front flaps are still dented inward from the packaging. Woes of free shipping perhaps?
    Date published: 2013-01-18
    Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent saddle not preferred though I'd like to start off by saying this saddle is so stiff, the seat has what feels like supple leather but when riding in I find it hard. The leather is hard to break in and is not supple even after 4 different oilings, conditioning riding 1-3 a day and riding every day. I bought this saddle because my beval didn't fit my horse anymore due to her constant weight gain and muscle development and I needed something quick and easy. I just find it hard and I prefer the old leather which was very nice and supple and I personally didn't find it scratched easily if you took care of it.I do like though how you can change the gullet and panels though its a little tricky to do. I think the only con to this saddle is it just being so darn stiff. Hopefully over time as time goes and I can get better saddle care soaps it will supple up more. I think this saddle is perfect for someone who is leasing and not big into showing or starting off on school horses since it's changeable to every horse.In my opinion it scratches easily and is awkwardly died under the saddle skirt. But overall its like the title says.... a decent saddle just not my butts delight.
    Date published: 2012-12-01
    Rated 4 out of 5 by from NICE Saddle, but did not work out... I have a lot of mixed feelings about this saddle. As someone before me mentioned, they have changed the leather and it's not as soft and supple as the older models. However, the new leather seems thicker and does not scratch as easily. I would rate the construction of this saddle A+ The CAIR panels have really helped my thoroughbred's shoulder soreness, however.... the tree is so STIFF and so STRAIGHT no matter what gullet I try it bridges in his back. I've noticed the rear panels are fuller and firmer than the front panels, can't imagine that feels good to my horse. Also, I'm constantly fighting the balance of this saddle. Being a Jumper rider I really need a saddle that allows me to obtain a natural, secure position over fences... I find it very, VERY hard to jump anything over 3ft in this saddle. I was jumping in a Devoucoux before and had no problems at all with my position.I bought this saddle in a 17" (seat sizing is generous) with long flaps (14.5"). Overall the saddle quality is nice and on a flat backed horse (most warmbloods and Quarter horses) this saddle fits very well. Unfortunately it does not work for my horse and I, so I must sell it.ON A SIDE NOTE: Be aware that when this saddle gets cold, the panels seem to flatten considerably. You will need to add alot of padding if the temp drops below 40 degrees. For those of us who ride when it's snowing outside, this is a big problem.
    Date published: 2012-02-06
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Compromise This saddle is a great compromise for someone who can afford something, but not an expensive, high end saddle. It fits a wide range of horses (better on regular to wide horses since the gullet channel is quite wide but can fit narrower horses with the right padding). I find it is also neutrally balanced so it doesn't really put you in a position, but you can add blocks as needed. Breaks in much better than other saddles in this price range. Just sad that the quality of the leather has gone down a bit since the saddle first came out. The newer ones don't break in quite as well as the older ones. I have an older model and everyone who sits in it, loves it. And now that it's broken in, it looks like an expensive custom saddle. Overall, smart purchase if you are looking for an everyday saddle that will hold up and fit a wide variety of horses!
    Date published: 2011-12-10
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just...wow.. Best saddle ever! I can't say enough good things about this saddle.
    Date published: 2011-05-27
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Saddle My horse has never gone better! I love the changeable gullet option and CAIR panels. The leather is a bit soft (scratches easily), but for the price and the options, you can't beat it.
    Date published: 2011-01-03
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comfortable saddle This is a nice saddle, extremely comfortable and gets lots of compliments.
    Date published: 2010-11-15
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent saddle!!! This saddle is super comfortable, and fits the horses great! Changeable gullet means that I hopefully won't have to do the dreaded saddlesearch over and over again. I really like the way this saddle fits me, as well--I don't feel trapped in a deep seat. Mine didn't come with thigh blocks but I think they would help me keep my lower leg more stable. I got the havana color which oiled up very nicely and the leather quality is superb.
    Date published: 2010-06-10
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from FANTASTIC saddle!!! I originally ordered one of these saddle for my husband as an attempt to find an affordable saddle that fit both him (6'6) and his ever growing 4 yr old mare (already and x-wide). When it arrived not only was it beautiful and easy to adjust but very comfortable! Both he and his mare LOVED it!! The flap options are great. The 18in forward flap fits his leg perfectly. He has a 36" inseam. The havana color is pretty as it has some red undertones (picture oiled Edgewood leather). I liked his so much I also purchased one for myself in a 17 1/2 forward flap. I have a 38in inseam. My two show horses are both huge (17.2 and 17.3H) and the gullet on this saddle is wide and lovely. I sold my Antares and am not looking back!! My horses have NEVER gone as well as they do in this saddle. The gullet is wide enough to not crush their spinal processes and the air panels provide just enough give. I have a friend who rode in my Caprilli shortly after I purchased it. One ride and she was hooked. She went online and bought one that day. She's 5'10 and the long flap fits her perfectly. She got rid of her custom Tad Coffin that was not even 2 yrs old. She said the Caprilli felt more balanced, easier to sit and was substantially more comfortable. I had what some would consider amongst the best saddles on the market and I paid a premium for it. My horses hated it, it wore poorly, was not adjustable and very expensive. Do yourself and your horse a favor and get one of these saddles.
    Date published: 2009-02-22
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love this saddle to death! It breaks in so easily. It takes oil well. I have had one for over 3 years. It is great for the price. It fits every horse at my barn. We have morgans to warmbloods. It is so easy to change the width if need.
    Date published: 2008-07-12
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from FABULOUS! I have had such a hard time fitting my quarter horse. He has wide withers and lots of muscle, but wide saddles dont always sit right. I visited the SmartPak store where I learned about the Cair panel system and was amazed at the technology. Not only was I able to measure to find the perfect gullet size for my horse, I am also so happy to know that the air panels will evenly distribute pressure throughout my horses back. I went from having a very girthy/irritated horse to having a happy horse that has free range of movement. While his old saddle pinched his withers, he can now move freely and I have never seen such a great stride. I wish I had known about it sooner. Thanks SmartPak!
    Date published: 2008-02-23
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