Friday, June 12, 2009

The Art of Cinching up a Saddle, Part II

After the event described in the previous post, the problem settled down to a mild annoyance. I learned to tighten the cinch in increments, and he learned not to flip himself over. He would squirm and shuffle around as I snugged up the cinch, but in comparison to his circus act, I was willing to live with this. One benefit of the dancing around is that I soon learned to keep track of where his feet were in relation to mine. A cowboy boot will lose to a #2 horseshoe every time. It also tends to result in the nearby air turning a shade of blue as I express my displeasure.

Many beginning horse people go through a stage that I simply refer to as the “will I ever find a decent saddle that fits my horse, is comfortable for my butt, and that I can afford” phase. We are usually destitute from buying the horse, so purchasing top of the line tack is generally not in the cards. Craigslist and the Auction become our friends.

The first saddle I purchased was a cheap POS. So bad in fact, that I threw it in the trash after a month, as my conscience would not let me sell it to anyone. The second saddle was better. It was comfortable to ride in, and it fit Smokey well enough, if only for a little while.

Smokey had seen little riding for the two years prior. As I started riding him and feeding him better, he began to bulk up. By spring, saddle the second was becoming too tight on his withers.
Fed up with this nonsense, I loaded Smokey in the trailer, and off to the tack store we went.

My favorite tack shop is owned by a Texan named Mike. This man can sell you your own shirt if you aren’t paying attention. But, he’s an honest fellow, and he won’t steer you wrong, because he wants you to come back and spend more money at his place of business, as well as sending all your friends.

Mike sized Smokey up, and then headed into the store. He carried out three saddles, and alternately set them on Smokey’s back. The two that provided the best fit were both Crates saddles. Mike began cinching up the one that was currently on the horse.

“Be careful Mike, he’s a bit cinchy.”

In hindsight maybe I should have kept my mouth shut. It could very well be that I invoked a self fulfilling prophecy

As you’ve probably guessed, Smokey was now standing high on his back legs. I remember contemplating how much it was going to cost to get my new, broken saddle repaired. I also wondered if he would throw himself down, in a repeat of the first experience.

Not one to disappoint, Smokey toppled over like a tree, landing on his right side again. “I guess I’ll buy that one” was the prevalent thought in my mind.

As the horse got up, wearing the same dopey, embarrassed look as the previous time, Mike turned to me and asked, “what was that?”

“I warned you.”

Now that Smokey was back on his feet, I looked the saddle over while Mike checked the fit. I was relieved to see that it had suffered no damage. Mike declared it to be a good fit, and proving himself the salesmen he is, managed to up sell me on a saddle pad, and cinch. With my wallet lighter to the tune of $1200, I loaded the horse and saddle, and set off for home.

I still have the saddle. Heck, I still have the horse, too. Smooth talking salesman or no, Mike knows his saddles. It fits Smokey as though it were custom made for him, and is incredibly comfortable for me. It has never once slipped, even on those rare occasions where the cinch was not quite as snug as it should have been. I loaned it to a friend once, and she promptly went out and bought two of them.

The tale does not end here, however…


Daphne said...

I think you should write about more than your horses.

I truly love reading about them and your life surrounding that wonderful world. It makes me feel like I have a small window on a dream I wish I lived. clearly have much more to say, own an intelligent, thoughtful mind and have a beautiful way with words. I would gently suggest expansion on your obviously wide range of interests and broad intellect.

I would very much like to read more of your thoughts on other topics.

Buck said...

re: "With my wallet lighter to the tune of $1200..."

Dang... I've bought new mo'sickles for less!! But not lately, of course.

That said, I'm a BIG proponent of the "ya gets what ya pays for" school of thought. Good stuff, which your saddle obviously is, requires great skill to produce and great material from which to produce it.

I'm with Daphne in spirit, too. :D

SuzieQ said...

I'm loving this tale. Brings back memories of many years ago when I convinced an "unrideable" horse to let me ride. Gentle patience is the trick.

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