When I moved to the ranch in June of 2008 from Texas, I brought four saddles with me. A roping saddle, and three barrel racing saddles. I also brought about 45 different bits and headstalls and reins. And since horsemanship is journey and good horseman are constantly learning and stretching themselves and trying to help their horses get better, I’ve since scrapped all but about 3 bits. The three I kept are snaffle bits. For those of you interested in what a true snaffle bit is, we’ll save that for another time- but do let me know that you want an explanation. I aim to please, after all.
After my first 12 hour day in a barrel saddle, I have to say my tail-end was less than thrilled with the results. And after riding in a saddle that’s designed to be ridden for an hour and put away, and since I’ve grown as a horseman, I decided (with some convincing from Zach) that it was time to invest in a good Wade Tree Saddle.
Zach owns a custom one of these, but the stirrups don’t go short enough for me, and while I have sat in it, I’ve never camped in it because, well, it wasn’t as comfortable as it could have been.
A saddle like this, isn’t a decision you make lightly, however. It’s certainly an investment, and sometimes these handmade saddles actually appreciate in value. And while spending several thousand dollars on a saddle might seem silly to some, it’s an investment in your horse, and in yourself. And it should last you 100 years if you take care of it. Further if you’re going to spend a month’s (or more) salary on one, you probably want to make sure it’s comfortable for your particular body type.
I found the PERFECT saddle, lovingly used (which does make it cheaper), just down the road from a custom saddle maker named Don Howe. It’s pretty, functional and it fits my horses. But you know what makes it even better? The first day I really got to ride it, I realized something. Several maneuvers I’d been trying to teach The Gump just happened. I’ve been working on them for quite some time, and you know, they never happened with any consistency. Moral of the story- there’s absolutely something to be said for a saddle that 1. fits your horse, 2. fits you and 3. puts you in the best possible position to help your horse. This saddle does all three of those things. It is also set up to be roped out of, which makes it even more fun!
Now that I’ve bored everyone with more details than you cared to know, I’ll share the photos!