Monday, May 19, 2014

How to be a Tack Ho, out of the Tack.

There are several things that are difficult about adjusting to being out of the saddle.  The first is obviously - not riding.  The second is that when you aren't riding there are even fewer things to obsess about both in terms of training, and gear.  Prair has everything she needs to show at 3' with my Trainer, and aside from an increase in purchasing power toward treats - I have nothing to covet, shop for, research or consider.

Don't get me wrong, I would ultimately pick a fat lame horse in a pasture that I could walk around bareback on over no horse at all - but let's be serious part of my horse obsession is a horse-gear obsession and even that has taken a hit with being preggo and watching from the sidelines.

So I've had to get creative, idle hands and all..

First off, I am forcing myself to "rediscover" all my crap.  All my bridle bits and pieces, all my saddle pads, all my everything.  Everything has been cleaned, organized and thoughtfully put away again.  My garage is literally bursting at the seams since so much of the stuff that I used to organize/maintain myself (like wash buckets and fly spray and first aid items) are handled by the barn both at home and away at shows now.

(Note, or everything has redirected to Gus' barn...)

Secondly, I am having to relish every moment that is available to me.  Whether it's oiling new stirrup leathers, or giving the mare kisses - my opportunities and obligations have both gone down to the point that I feel like I'm now doing everything with the deliberation and focus of a Buddhist monk.  (or at the very least an fairly OCD pony club kid).

So, when something as momentous as a new fricking saddle happens I have to figure out how to stretch out the tack-ho-ery even when I can't actually play with my toy.

So far I have been oiling it with all of the misplaced maternal hormones I can muster.  It arrived darker than my previous saddle (yay), but with a really trendy ombre fade on the flaps (less yay).  So I've been dabbing at it with darkening oil, slathering it with conditioner and rolling the flaps six ways to Sunday.  It's looking and feeling really good... I just need a few more passes to darken the grain leather along the bottom of the flaps.. but otherwise we are in business!
Apparently I cannot center the saddle in frame...
While I sat splayed out on my den floor surrounded by greasy rags and bits of leather, it occurred to me that the one piece of tack I hadn't actually looked at in years was my (very) first saddle which has been sitting nicely all zipped in its cover for probably 15 years.

Fearful of what sort of mold or gigantic spider nests could have been percolating for the last decade, I wisely asked The Boy to retrieve it for me and sacrifice his fingers to any possible nastiness inside.

Turns out that $50 monogrammed saddle cover that I begged for in 8th grade has done it's job well and aside from looking even more like cardboard than I remembered - the thing was in decent shape.

This, my friends is what $109 at the local feed shop (tack stores were WAY too expensive) will buy you.  Actually, it would buy you this fine saddle, a bridle that dyed your ponies ears purple when she sweat, some stirrups and "leathers" along with a horrid nylon girth.  In doing the mental math I figured out I made this purchase in 1993... which means this saddle is now legal to drink.
it just *looks* uncomfortable

in need of some TLC
Anyway, since I was in serious-saddle-conditioning mode, I plopped back down and went to town.  The flocking has entirely broken down (or maybe it was always that bad?) and the suede (lol) knee rolls were threatening to crack open, but I was shocked how quickly everything suppled up with a few passes of the CWD conditioner.  That saddle was supple, supple, supple when I was regularly taking care of it - sorta nice to know that even with the cheapest of cheap leather - it can be coaxed back to life.

Such a time warp to spend time with that saddle, I instantly remembered all it's weird (read: cheap) quirks like how the billets on one side are significantly thicker leather than the other, or how the left sweat flap is sewn on with the rough side of the leather facing up instead of down... Or the weird seams on the welting where the "saddle makers" switched to a new piece of leather instead of using a continuous hide...

Also the smell.  This saddle smells different than all my other tack - it always has.  Memory lane, holy smokes..

Anyway, it was also pretty cool to be handling both the (ancient) no-name saddle and the new full calf CWD at the same time.  Turns out there is a difference in craftsmanship and quality - made all the more obvious by a side by side comparison.  Even the horse illiterate husband could tell that they came with extremely different price tags...

And that is how you waste a Sunday afternoon being a Tack Ho without actually being able to ride, or even purchasing anything new.


  1. I haven't been brave enough to roll my flaps yet and I really need to. I am still waffling with myself over if I should have splurged on the full buffalo or not. Doesn't matter at this point but I wonder how different our break in will be. I need to start rolling my flaps ASAP but fingers crossed even for a new saddle jumping in it Saturday I didn't feel too slippery.

    Do you have a before of the new saddle. I'm curious about how much you had to darken it. Mine was fairly dark out of the box I feel like and I was told not to oil it.

    1. I should have taken a before... but I didn't (preggo brain!)

      Your saddle (the flaps anyway) look very similar to what my full grain SE02 looked like out of the box. Since Prair is so dark I *want* everything as dark-dark brown as possible, but that's a personal preference and definitely separate from the process of breaking in and conditioning the saddle in general. In my experience Hydrophane darkens well, but really doesn't soften leather - if anything it leaves it rather dry. Though it works WONDERS on stirrup leathers over regular oil/conditioner if you're trying to match your saddle.

      I'm surprised you were told not to oil it - though I'm assuming they told you to condition it heavily with their conditioner? Everyone I've worked with there (both reps, sales manager and CEO) have all said to put at least 1/2 that tub of conditioner on in the first 2 weeks. The full grain doesn't absorb as much as the calf, but it will if you start working the flaps and slowly asking them to roll.. because of how they stitch on the knee rolls it's always easier to curl the flaps up first rather than under, but I had mine rolling both ways after my second round of conditioning...

      jealous you get to jump in yours this weekend!!!

    2. I finally broke down and rolled my flaps and boy did it help. You were right - much easier to roll up than down initially. I have already used easily half of the CWD conditioner. I had a lesson this past weekend and will have another this weekend. I am more excited to ride in it now that it is a little broken in though.

      I like super dark tack as well so you are not alone there. Did you end up getting a CWD girth? And if so did you have to go up a size? I can't even contemplate girthing Houston up with my 54" regular girths and the 56" CWD was worse…

      Also what size bridle did you end up having to go with? You said that Prair is an OS in her Aramas right? Hue wears a horse in Aramas but I felt like the CWD 3 crown was not long enough for him. :/

      Sorry for all the questions!

    3. Rolling is good :) works all the goo into the leather :)

      I didn't get a CWD girth, I've never loved their regular non-bellyguard girths. A little too thin for my taste (prair likes a fat, squashy girth). That being said, the billets on my new saddle ARE shorter than my old. my 54" fit better on my old saddle, and I tacked up today with the 56" without being at the top of the billets... so I'm not sure if it's saddle construction or lies about the girth length or both... :)

      In terms of bridles, Prair does have an OS from Aramas, which fits great through the crown, but is was too "large" in her throatlatch and nose band... I ended up with a 3 in the CWD bridle, which is a TAD short in the crown (if I had a Model Hunter, I'd want the buckles to be a bit higher on the cheekpieces...) but the throatlatch and nose band are better suited to her face.... So I think Prair has odd face dimensions, but ultimately we stuck with a 3. :)

    4. Have you seen their anatomic one? It's wider. The regular girth they sell does look way too thin.

      Thanks! I guess hue is weird too. A horse aramas fits him pretty well. The cwd 3 crown is way short and the throat latch basically strangles him. :/

  2. I have been cleaning and going through all my stuff too!! That things us prego's do to stay in our horse world without riding lol :)

    1. I'm like two steps away from bringing back my breyer collection... which I might actually do *if* I wasn't still spending $$$ like whoa on shows and whatnot. :)

  3. My first saddle had suede knee rolls too, lol. Come to think of it, that saddle is still around, sitting in a bedroom in an old farmhouse, I'm pretty sure. I will have to get pics this summer.
    Your new saddle is gorgeous!

  4. I go dark-dark too because my Sam is dark like Prair. Love the dark! It's also hard to be a tack-ho when you already have everything .... or do I? :)

  5. Gorgeous saddle. You will be in the beautiful thing soon enough! ;)


  7. Ooh, that old saddle makes my butt hurt just looking at it. Even worse than my old PDN, which I see every day as it's now a "display piece!" :) Your new one looks like it would suit my bony rump a lot better and I'm sure you'll enjoy it, too.

    Preggo Brain is a real thing and I well-remember some of the goofy things I did or did not do. Unfortunately you'll still experience brain lapses after Baby is born, but then they'll be due to sleep deprivation! Enjoy it all, though. Before you know it they'll be graduating from H.S. like my "baby" will be doing in a couple weeks. :)


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