Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saddles are my passion

If you are like me (and some of you are), turning over the calender to a New Year makes me think about- what else
I am always on the look out for a great saddle at a great price.  A lot of people don't know what they have, or don't like what they have, or need to make a quick buck on what they have so the deals are out there.
But you have to look for them.
Too many people are trying to sell their junk for crazy  prices!
 To be clear- expensive does not always mean quality!
I do need a good working saddle. Right now I ride in the same saddle I show Desi in, and though it works for the Trail classes, it isn't optimum for a lot of other kinds of riding. Especially if Desi is a bit 'fresh'.
This saddle was made by my friend Dana Alden in Rogue River Oregon. He made it for his wife and my friend Jane. She let me ride in it last time I went up to visit and I really liked it.
It has a Wade tree, turned stirrups and a slightly padded seat. As soon as I have enough money I am going to have Dana make a saddle for ME!

  Here are a few saddle I found on the Internet. Of course if you are going down the fence, trying to rope something or riding for distance these would not be the saddles you would choose.

This is a Blue Ribbon,and undoubtedly one of the best deals on the 'net right now. They are asking $2700. for this little gem. These Blue Ribbons never go out of style, are built to last forever and are comfortable and pretty.  It comes with the braided rawhide riata and hobbles you can see in the near side billet.

This beauty is a Phil Harris. They are beginning the bidding at about $2000. If you got it for under $3000 you'd be getting a bargain. Phil Harris saddles are highly sought in this neck o' the woods and for good reason. They last, are pretty and comfy and they seem  to fit a lot of horses. ( of the Quarter variety anyway!)

Here is an oldie but a goodie! It is a Bona Allen, and the strings have been changed out, but you can just see the quality still left in this ride. Of course slick fork saddles like this are a challenge, to say the least, and you sure don't want to spend the day in it, but all and all it is a very nice saddle. I think the bidding is starting about $280.

Isn't this just kinda cute? Some one added the white strings ( I thought they might even glow in the dark!) but the spots are original, as is the single rigging and the wooden stirrups. Looks like the fleece is all original too,you can see just the edges of it around the skirts,  but it is hard to tell without looking at the underside.  Bidding was starting about $200. And if you wanted something to put in your house for a decorators piece, this would be it! Probably made around 1945-50.

I know what I  look for in a saddle. It has to be first and foremost well made. The edges of the leather should be beveled or rubbed, not rough. It should be supple to the touch, not hard and waxy feeling. The stitching should be even and tight, the threads not too thick and not too thin.I like to look at the stitching around the cantle, if it is good there, it is the mark of a craftsman. I want the leather to be stamped or etched by hand, not a machine. When it is done by hand the pattern will be a little deeper. 
I want a real fleece, even if it is worn a little in places. The newer 'fleece-like material' is not for me.  Getting a saddle re-fleeced is expensive and usually not worth the cost. But unless the fleece is non existent you can usually use the saddle with worn fleece, as long as you have an excellent pad.
The tree must be sound and although I prefer a wooden tree, the newer  fiber type trees work fine too. I do not like  the 'treeless' saddles.
The rigging has to be sound, but I will always change out the latigo and the billets and the cinch on a used saddle.
I personally don't like the cordera or fabric type saddles. Call me a traditionalist, but dag gum it, a cowgirl just won't ride in one! I'll leave those beasts to the weekend horsemen and small children.
So that is my list.
What do you all look for in a saddle?


Lucy said...

What I'm looking for right now is something that fits me and the horse. But I'm looking for an english saddle, and getting it right is harder than finding the right horse!
Thanks for the post. Just about everything in my neck of the woods is either a Circle Y or Billy Cook, with an occasional Crates. Nice to see some good stuff. Like you, I'm a traditionalist, it's leather all the way.

Denisarita said...

I got my Phil Harris saddle on e-bay for $2200.00. I love it! Of course after I had it re-rigged to a reining saddle.

Rising Rainbow said...

I must admit that currently I am riding in a codura saddle but I am doing so solely for my horse. It's the only saddle I've been able to find that fits him well so until that changes I'm riding in this ugly thing.

Hopefully I will find an older work saddle built for an Arabian with the round skirt for schooling and this cordura thing will go down the road. In the meantime, I'm grateful to have it since I don't have to worry about rubmarks on my horse's back from a skirt that is too long for his short back.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Curious about your opinion on Slick Fork saddles. That's what I had on my first saddle...and I don't use that saddle anymore for various reasons.

In fact I stripped all the useful stuff off it to use on my Abetta Trail Saddle last year(shhh! I know. I know! It's cordura and faux suede), but I don't claim to be a real cowgirl anyway. And I don't typically ride every day...but I could. I've ridden in my Abetta for 6+ hours, and my horse and I could have ridden 6 more hours without complaint.

Comfort for me and the horse, the correct seat position, and lightweight were what led me first to a cordura saddle. And I must admit I was hesitant and doubtful, but after switching out all the nylon latigos, cinches, and the cordura fenders with the leather from my first saddle, I was set to go. And I have no complaints at all.

I sit in my cordura and it feels like it's a part of my body and I feel an easy close contact to my horse. It's simple to keep clean, and with my neck issues (cervical surgery years ago) I love that I can lift it onto my mare with one hand...and I think she appreciates the lighter weight on her back, too.