Back to the horse thing

Several months ago, I watched this old-timey horse trainer work with a horse and he really impressed me.  I also knew that he dealt in a lot of used horse tack so Yesterday, I decided to give him a call to see if he had a back cinch and a pulling-style breast collar.  The saddle I bought (it is a Simco saddle) didn’t have d-rings to attach a breast plate to and quite frankly, I don’t like how conventional Western breast plates sit on a horse’s shoulders.  The pulling-style (as well as the endurance-style) breast collar sits along the line of the horse’s shoulder so that it doesn’t impede movement.  It just so happened that he had several used breast collars and back cinches so I packed up the saddle and Gel and drove out to his house.  He’s only about 30 minutes from here.

While talking on the telephone, however, I told him that I was having some confidence issues getting back into the saddle and that I wanted to see about setting up a time with him to do some work with Sudi to help regain my confidence.  As it turned out, he was running a mini-clinic Sunday morning with two other women with new horses and he invited me to attend.

Got to his house and went down into his workshop and gosh, the leather working equipment, saddles and tack he had down there.  This guy (John is his name) was formerly a cowboy competing in all sorts of events.  His wife did as well.  Now, he’s just teaching Natural Horsemanship Methods.

We got my saddle fitted up and as I was standing there looking at it I said to him that I liked the saddle and it was about perfect except for the rough-out seat.  I really prefer a slick seated saddle.  Just as I said that, his wife came into the room and said what about this saddle?  She dug through two or three of them stacked on a stand and pulled out this drop-dead-gorgeous saddle.  It’s an old-time Ozark Saddle Co. (now Saddle King of Texas).  It is a dark-oil (which I like) with minimal, but beautiful, tooling.  I sat in it and it was like sitting in a lounge chair.  I couldn’t get out of it.  It has a rounded skirt and the length is right about the same as the saddle I bought.  It is for sale and is only $30 more than I paid for the other one.  Damn!!!!!!

I spent several hours with him just talking, fooling with tack, etc. and then came home and took photos of the Simco saddle and put it for sale on both Craigslist and e-Bay.  Hopefully I can re-sell.  I think I can, it’s a nice saddle.  The plan is to go back out there Sunday morning with Sudi and take a lesson (his lesson fees are incredibly cheap!!!!) and then on my way back home, go to a sorting (cattle) practice.  It’s going to be a horsey-day!!!  I’m looking forward to it.

When I got home, I threw the Simco saddle up on him without a blanket to look at the fit and discovered that it seemed a bit too wide.  It seems saddle fitting is going to be an on-going problem with Sudi, as it has been for every horse I’ve had and I have to wonder if the saddling fitting is more problem.  Sudi is big and thick for an Arabian and he’s still relatively immature and I think with maturity and conditioning, his back is going to muscle up.  I called John and told him and he said that I shouldn’t be looking at the fit of a Western saddle without a blanket in place so I went back into the house and got my saddle pad and put that on him.  It still seemed to wide.  I called John back and he said not to worry about it and that with proper placement it would fit okay.  He reminded me that a traditional cowboy had one saddle but might ride ten different horses and he’s right.  I wouldn’t want to try to get a saddle that was too narrow to fit him, but I think, as he said, with proper blanket placement I can use a saddle with full quarter horse bars on him.  I remember at one of the Robbie Potter clinics that I went to, Wally and I saddled up his horse for him.  This horse, I think, was an Appendix-bred Quarter Horse and while he was a good-sized horse, I don’t think he was all that wide; he was built more like a Thoroughbred than a Quarter Horse.  I feel sure the saddle Robbie was using was a big, old cowboy saddle with full Quarter Horse bars.  He was using several saddle blankets with this saddle.  I don’t know, we’ll see how things look on Sunday.  I just hope it works out that I can get that Ozark saddle as it was freaking gorgeous … it may be come my favorite saddle over the Marciante.  Or I may be hoping that I can’t sell the Simco and still have that on Sunday and be right back to square one.

As I write this, it’s raining and it is not going to let up any time soon so I’ll have to go out and do chores in the rain.  Oh well.  Gwen has been really funny lately.  She’s eating everything she can get her mouth on.  When I’m milking her, she looses a lot of grain around her feed barrel.  It used to be that grain would be left for the chickens.  Not any more.  When she finishes the grain in the barrel, she pulls it out of the way and sucks down the grain that she spilled.  Last night as I was dragging her barrel of hay to a fresh location (we move her “feeding area” around in order to spread the manure) I turned around and discovered she was running (well, as best as Gwen could run) behind me.  She’s become such a bright spirit and is really bonding to me.  Look out Sudi!

Bragging on Sudi again: when I threw the saddle up on him the first time, I spooked him a bit and he started forward a few steps.  I thought to myself “oh no, don’t become another Merlin!” but he only went a few steps and immediately settled down.  After I got off the phone with John and got the saddle pad out, I went back out with the halter and lead to catch Sudi to try again.  I was worrying that he might resist being caught, but he didn’t.  Good boy.

Off to get wet.

Until later …