Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Old Saddle

Today I’d like to pay homage to my old saddle. I’m sure many of you have a favorite saddle – one that fits you like a glove, one you’ve hung on to over the years because it’s so comfortable. English, Western, endurance, or any kind of a saddle, a horseperson tends to get attached to the equipment that works best for them.

Here is mine:

I have owned and ridden this saddle for about twenty-five years. I got it with a little trading horse that I bought and resold, but the saddle was so comfortable that I kept it. And kept it, and kept it.

I have another good name-brand saddle in the barn, and it’s nice also. In fact, I owned a saddle shop for many years, and had the luxury of bringing any saddle or piece of equipment home to try on a horse (gosh, that was fun.)

But this old saddle is the one I still choose to ride most days. I’m guessing it was made in the 1950’s, and although it does not have any markings on it, it appears to be a custom saddle. I’d love to know the maker. Notice the unusual tooling, and the braiding on the swells (which used to be red.)

The only thing I’ve done to it is add silver conchos, long saddle strings, and have a crupper ring put on the back for a little mutton-withered mule I owned for a while. It’s definitely a tough, well-made saddle.

I’ve logged literally hundreds of miles in this saddle. I trained for endurance rides with it, and in fact rode the Tevis Cup (one hundred miles in one day) in this saddle. If it looks a little rough around the edges, that’s why. It’s been used.

If I sound a little sentimental about this saddle, well, it’s true. I even wrote a song called My Old Saddle, had it copyrighted, recorded, and hand delivered it to Ian Tyson, cowboy musician. That never went anywhere, but oh well.

“My old saddle has carried me
Up on the mountains and through the streams
And I’ve sat there and watched the moon rise through the trees.”

My old saddle has fit every horse I’ve owned. Here it is on my old high-withered quarter horse, Buddy. My saddle doesn’t have a padded seat, and these days I ride it with fleece saddle cover, which makes it super comfy.

On another note: Horse Racing Update. If you marked your calendars for the April 9th match-up between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra in the Apple Blossom, it ain’t gonna happen. At their respective prep races on March 13th, Rachel came in a disappointing 2nd against 3 other fillies, and her connections decide not to run her again so soon. Zenyatta, racing in a field of eight, won handily and is now 15 for 15. She is set to ship to Arkansas today to run in the Apple Blossom Cup on April 9th, as promised. And Zenyatta, with her come from behind style, is worth watching absolutely any day of the year, so if you can find it on television, tune in.

Anyway, back to Saddles. You've just heard about my great old favorite saddle. What kind of saddle do you ride? Do you have a favorite, go-to, never-part-with saddle that you cannot do without? Tell us about it.


Anonymous said...

I have a great Saddle King of Texas western saddle that I bought from a fellow boarder when I was 15 yrs old; I'm now pushing 60 (yikes!). The girl thought it was the most uncomfortable saddle she ever rode, and I think it's the bomb! No tooling, no silver - just a plain roping saddle that has fit all my quarter horses and paints, and makes me feel so very secure. I actually wrote to the saddle maker a few years ago to tell them how much I love it and how well it's served me over the years.

I also have a Stubben Seigfried that I bought used when I was in my early 20's. Another feels-good golden oldie!

Every once in a while I think about buying something else, but I can't justify spending the money when I already have something I enjoy, and, should I buy something else, I doubt that I would sell either of the ones I have. I love my saddles!

Minus Pride said...

I have an english Equi-bette saddle that is amazing!! It's fit every horse I ever put it on, high withers, fat bodies, arabs, ottbs, clydes, you name it this saddle has probably sat on one. No issues yet, knock on wood. It has a nice deep seat and I love it. It has found it's forever home :)
Great blog!!

Mikey said...

That looks like a great old saddle. I like that you can swing a leg off quick. They're just built right, to me.
I ride in a Cowboy Tough saddle, which isn't anything special, but I love it. Works on everyone, fits me just right. When I met my man Wade, he had a whole bunch of trophy saddles, and he picked his favorite out to show me. When we realized we ride in the same brand, we knew it was kismet :)
I do love a good old broke in saddle, and I feel the same way about my tools. Heaven forbid someone lose my fence pliers our family has had since I was a toddler. You just can't replace certain things.

Linda Benson said...

Yes, there's nothing like a good, broke-in saddle, with all the squeaks rode out of it. Anonymous, I like those vintage Saddle King saddles, also. Older saddles just tend to have nice leather that was tanned well. Minus Pride and Mikey, I haven't heard of Equi-bette or Cowboy Tough, but I'll look for them. Finding a saddle that you like is definitely an individual thing. Enjoying all your comments!

lopinon4 said...

Wow, I had the same emotions over my old American...steel reinforced tree, and rugged as all get-out. I miss that old girl. She really took a beating, and was SO comfy.

Since I did lose her along the way (needed the $$, dang it), I have since replaced her with a Big Horn reiner that I absolutely LOVE, and plan to never part with.

Laura Crum said...

Linda--My saddle is an old Champion roping saddle that was made for me--I'm very short and the fenders are cut so that the stirrups swing free when they're run up that high. Its not a fancy saddle--just a little tooling, no silver, and it weighs a lot, and yet, as you all say, I just love it. Its fit every horse I used it on, and its just as comfortable as a trail riding saddle (what I do now), as it was as a roping saddle. As was said...I just feel so secure in it.

Anonymous said...

I spent a lot of time trying to find a saddle I was comfortable in, everything was just not quite right.
My favorite ever jumping saddle is a Crosby Centennial with the grippy leather. It has the most comfy wide seat that is medium depth and wonderful secure knee rolls. It was love at first sit and perfect for for flatwork, jumping or trails and it fit many horses well. Unfortunately I had to sell it to afford a dressage saddle. I still miss it and I'm always looking for one on Ebay if I can find it cheap.

My 2 year old dressage saddle is a Fhoenix Vogue treeless saddle, the most balanced and comfy thing ever! Perfect for dressage and fits almost any horse. I hope to keep it for a long time, unless I decide to upgrade to a newer model of the same saddle...
A good saddle is worth its weight in gold, just like a good horse.

Linda Benson said...

lopinon4- sorry you lost your American, but glad you found another one that you love.
Laura - Champion is a great brand. Your saddle sounds just right for you (except for the weight lol.) I'm older than you, and I can barely lug those heavy ones around any more.
sumire7 - I'm fascinated with the concept of treeless saddles, but haven't used one yet. Do they have any problems slipping on the horse? And Amen to your quote "A good saddle is worth its weight in gold, just like a good horse." :-)Yup.

Anonymous said...

for the treeless saddles it all depends on the conformation of the horse and the type of padding you are using. I've had treeless saddles slip before, but I've worked out which padding works for each horse and have had no issues since. I've sat spins and spooks in my treeless with no problems and even mounted from the ground once which is very hard for me in any saddle. The most important thing is to tighten your girth and keep checking it throughout your ride.

Brenda said...

I have one of the first types of saddles that Tucker Saddlery made. it is an Australian style. I wouldn't trade it for any saddle. Tucker tried to make this again a couple of years ago but wasn't near as comfortable.
This fits like a glove. Soft worn leather. I can ride for hours on my Tennessee Walker. The only downside is it is heavy.

Anonymous said...

I would like to introduce cheap horse saddles, this one is the best horse saddle and it is very cheap. Let's check it out.

Saddle Blanket said...

Yes this saddle is very beautiful though it is an old saddle.

nblackthorn said...

We've all had Equestrian Saddles but we can all remember that one that is broke in and that you use on all your rides and fits just right. Thanks for sharing yours and your experience!

Anonymous said...

I really like this saddle. I also like western saddles.