Confessions of a Shopaholic

Today’s Tip: Never underestimate the importance of good fitting tack. Read on for my mistake and my recent solution!

My actual confession should probably be that I don’t normally shop as much as I have been lately. This is the second post this week about buying horse-related stuff, and that doesn’t count the time I spent at the mall today!

The other confession I have is that I found a way to cheat the system!!! Maybe it’s not really cheating, but it’s kind of against the intended system.

I love Craigslist – free online posting with no frills or much skill needed, you can sell almost anything to give new life to items rather than sending them to the dump, and you can buy things they need that may be more unique that what they’d find in the store or simply cheaper than they’d buy new. What I don’t love is that there is a limit to what is practical to search. You search by location, usually a single city and its surrounding area. It’s mean for finding local stuff,  but sometimes you want something specific and it’s just hard to find it locally. The site will search nearby areas, but that’s it. There is no way to search ALL of Craigslist.

Then along came Google. I searched “search all of Craigslist” and there were results! My favorite of those I tried was My New SaddleCraigLook.com With this fabulous site, you can search the whole country in one simple step. And thanks to this, I was finally able to find the Western saddle I’ve been looking for!!

A number of years ago I purchased a nice Western saddle – nice as in my color of preference, decent tooling, a little bit of silver, and decent quality. Unfortunately it never fit Classy very well, especially since he’s put on a few pounds since I bought it. This became particularly evident after a trip to South Dakota a couple of years ago. My husband rode Classy for a whole week. That fall, when his winter coat came in, he had two distinct white spots on either side where the saddle caused too much pressure. Poor baby!

Since that trip I’ve been looking for a new saddle. Tennessee Walking Horses are often tough to fit with a Western saddle. You frequently need a rounded (or otherwise shortened) skirt so it doesn’t interfere with the hip of this (ideally) short-backed, long-strided horse. Also, the trees of Arab saddles and other saddles typically designed with smaller skirts often don’t fit in the tree. I’m no saddle-fitting expert, but it’s not hard to tell that the front part of the saddle is pinching when you can’t fit your fingers underneath it no matter how hard you try. Pads can help, but they never solve a poor-fitting saddle.

As a general rule, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a saddle without trying it on your horse and seeing for yourself that it’s in good condition (not just the look of the leather, but how well it has been cared for, if the tree is still solid, etc.). However, I was looking for a Tennessean saddle since I’ve used them on Classy before and know they fit. The one I found was a decent price and I saw photos demonstrating the quality, so I know even if for some reason it doesn’t fit, I should be able to resell.

As I sit here counting the hours until my new (used) saddle arrives at my doorstep, I can’t stress enough the importance of good fitting tack. Classy might be 15 years old, but I expect to get a LOT of good riding years out of him still. Just as people start to become less resilient to beating up their bodies, so do horses. No horse should have to work in pain or risk injury due to the wait of your entire body pushing down on a couple small points on their back. A horse whose body is no longer as young as it once was possibly even has more to lose by being subjected to poor-fitting tack.

As a footnote, and additional confession for today is that I totally missed a perfect day for being outside and working with the horses. It’s the season of Lent, so we wanted to be at church. Too bad Mother Nature wasted her dreary day on a Tuesday and a gorgeous day on a Wednesday! Even if the weather isn’t as good tomorrow I will get out with the horses. Hold me to it!

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