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Saddle Soap Opera

By Cindy Hale

Thursday, May 21, 2009

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Somehow I’ve become the owner of four saddles. Don’t tell my husband. If things work out as planned, I’ll soon be down to a respectable number of only two saddles, and then he’ll never know the difference. He is, after all, a man. To him, one saddle looks quite the same as the next one. I’m hoping money changes hands and saddles go to new homes before he can figure things out. If you’re wondering how I ended up in this mess, it all began innocently enough.

When I bought Wally a couple of years ago, I also bought a nice used western saddle to go along with the new horse. That’s because Wally was initially meant for Ron. I know. I laugh at that in retrospect, because Wally is not a beginner’s horse. But at the time, I thought it would all work out famously, and Ron and I would ride off into the sunset together. Either that or I secretly had a death wish for my husband. But I digress.

Anyway, I began this saddle soap opera with two horses and two western saddles. But after a while, Ron determined he was not Roy Rogers. Then he issued the edict that I was to only have one horse (yeah, we all know how long that rule was kept in effect), so I figured I didn’t need a second saddle. When I sold the other horse, the extra saddle went with it.

Naturally, within a year I acquired a second horse.

A second horse meant that I needed a second saddle. Why? Well, because. Isn’t that reason enough?

Seriously, though,  Joey is a smaller-framed, narrower horse than Wally. The saddle that Wally used had wide, full-Quarter bars. Joey needed semi-Quarter bars. Being a conscientious Horse Mom—and a compulsive tack shopper—I rushed out and bought Joey his own saddle. But I did use some restraint. I found a used one at the consignment tack shop.  I paid for it with my credit card, something I swore I’d never do, because I hate racking up credit card bills.

Veronica's new saddle
Veronica may be smiling, but I know what she's thinking: "You can have this saddle back when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."
About the same time, I re-evaluated the practicality of owning my expensive English saddle. I really didn’t  ride huntseat much on either of my two stocky Paints, and Ron had made it clear he didn’t want me jumping anyone else’s horses. So I decided to sell my English saddle to one of the girls I give riding lessons to, Veronica. She’s naturally talented on a horse, plus she’s a very intellectual rider, meaning she takes instruction well. But alas, she’s cursed with riding in an antique of a saddle that’s not much more that a slice of dry leather with a pair of stirrups attached. Buying a show-worthy English saddle was not within her budget, so I made her a deal and allowed her to make payments on my saddle. By the end of this month, she should have it paid off.  In the meantime, I occasionally tease her that I’m about to repossess it. Ironically, she does not find that funny.

I was finally content that I had found a home for my English saddle and happy that both Joey and Wally had their respective saddles. But that didn’t last long. After riding Joey in “his” saddle about a dozen times, I began to notice that my behind—literally my butt—was getting very sore on one side. It was the area right over where my computer is implanted. The battery-operated device is about the size of a thick book of matches, and it’s attached to the wire leads that are affixed to my spinal column. It took some detective work, but eventually I surmised that the high cantle on Joey’s saddle (a feature that was part of the trail saddle design) was continuously pressing against that sensitive area of my butt cheek. How glamorous a dilemma is that? 

Now I had to try and re-sell Joey’s saddle and get one that fit him and accommodated my weird butt issue!

Of course, I couldn’t exactly go back to the consignment store and say, “You know that used saddle that I bought here two weeks ago? The one I gushed over and fell in love with? Well, funny thing. Now I need to sell it. Can I put it back on consignment?”

Instead I took it to the big tack store in town and put it on consignment there. They allowed me to do that because…  I bought a brand new saddle there that fit Joey and my royal behind. Ka-ching!

Of course, I then went home with an ill feeling in my stomach. It would take a financial adviser to figure out precisely how many saddles I did or did not own fully and outright, how much money I’d spent, lost or gained, and how fast I needed to pay off my credit card before I was swimming in interest fees.

A few days later the phone rang. The manager of the tack store wanted to buy the saddle I’d put on consignment—the one that bugged my butt—because her current saddle didn’t fit her new horse!

“The only thing is,” she said timidly, “is that I don’t get paid until next week. So can I come by your house and pay you after pay day?”

“Oh sure,” I said, “why not?”

It wasn’t like I was making money in this entire saddle saga, anyway.

And thus, here I sit, waiting for the tack store lady to arrive with a fistful of cash and remove one less saddle from my collection. Next up on the agenda, Veronica will officially own my former English show saddle in a few weeks. Then the money that I’ve recently earned from my horse show judging duties will allow me to pay off the credit card bill that was incurred from my saddle shopping spree. Sure, in the long run I’ve lost money. Lots of money. But isn’t that the way the horse world works? I find solace in knowing that ultimately it will all work out and my horses, my bank account and my butt will all be happy. The only question is, will Ron even be aware of the turmoil that I endured?

I hope not.

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Reader Comments

Shes Dead Broke    StrangeHorseNames, PA

6/19/2009 2:35:55 PM

Since I'm just a kid without a job that should have a job by now and when I did have a job it didn't pay much, my saddle dilemma was forced to cease being a saddle dilemma and was instead turned into a heaping pile of pads and blankets. My saddle fit my horse beautifully at first, and i love it, but, all of a sudden it started sitting on his withers, even though it fit him fine otherwise. It seemed that the tree was giving out on me, but i thought it couldn't be cuz i just bought that saddle a little under a year earlier-new. So, For the time being, I found a different pad that made it all better, of course also purchasing extras for different show outfits. I also have a variety of bridles, breast collars, reins, and protective boots. What's worse is that I'm not done yet! AAAAHHHHH!

So, yes, neverending tack buying is something we are all affected with... let's just hope it's not the death of us! :) lol

Kaitlynn    Queen Creek, AZ

5/26/2009 9:22:44 PM

Oh my this is like reading I Love Lucy only about horses. We all have way too much tack.

lina    Anderson, SC

5/25/2009 6:16:47 AM

My problem is I don't want to get rid of my saddles! I have 3 english saddles and 4 western ones. I keep telling myself that I will sell some and buy myself one good show-worthy one, but it hasn't happened yet!

Marion    Sussex, NJ

5/24/2009 6:00:35 AM

Awh yes, the saddle sagga. I too have four saddles. An English, that I don't and haven't ridden english in like 20 years now. And three western saddles. A very older black show saddle with all the silver on it. My current Blue Ribbon show saddle and a mock version of it in a work saddle for everyday use. Must save the show silver saddle for the big events. LOL And I only ride one out of three horses. Dont' get ride of your other western saddle, you might just find out that as Joey gets older and fills out and broadens up, you will need the full quarter horse saddle, keep it.

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