Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saddle Search - Part III

Junior is enjoying his rest. He was up to more shenanigans in turnout this morning and came in with a new cut on his neck... just another one of the countess he's had. I've stopped worrying about those. They heal. No one will ever be able to make boots out of him, that's for sure. He did seem overly cuddly today though, and stood with his head over his gate and let me clip his goat beard off and clean up the outside of his ears and acted like he enjoyed it.

On to the saddle saga...

I am on a path to a saddle. I may yet switch paths, but here's where I think I'm headed....

Rod's carries some Rocking R saddles. They have Steele brand fiberglass reinforced wood trees, and are made in the USA by hand, one at a time, are hand tooled and have stainless steel hardware. When I first was saddle shopping way back in September of '08 I nearly bought one of their training saddles. My trainer had one and loved it. I liked the look and feel of it. The tack salesman highly recommended them. The only reason I decided NOT to buy it was because I was able to purchase a used and MUCH cheaper saddle along with the horse. I was actually under the impression that Rocking R meant Rocking Rod's, I now know better. I personally know two people who have their saddles and love them, our friends over at Cedar View Paints spoke very highly of their Rocking R Reining saddle, and the very cute cowboy I met this morning at Rod's has one that he loves, too.

I am attracted to the different designs they have. I think they make a good looking saddle and those that I have felt and sat in are of very high quality. It's going to be heavier than my current training saddle, but quality sometimes makes it heavier.

I'm essentially ordering a custom saddle through Rod's. Because I need a shorter skirt length, my options are somewhat limited as far as saddles go. I'm not sure yet how short I need to go, but I know that 29" is too long. They can make this saddle shape, which is a 27" skirt and that seems about as short as I can find without being a barrel or gaited saddle:

But in this design/tooling and a suede seat:

And it'll still be a price that's within my budget. I'm waiting to see if they can get the former in stock within a week for me to take home and try since they just added it to their web inventory in the last few days, but don't have any currently in the wearhouse. If they can't get one within the week, I'll take one of their other saddles for a test ride and make a guess on the skirt size. All of their reining saddles and training saddles are with the same tree/seat configuration so if one of those fits us, the one we order should as well.

A few things to consider: Seat Size & Color. I asked the nice fella to take a picture of me in the 15" seat and in the 16" seat. I know that seat size is more about feel than looks, but I'd like some opinions. Can you even tell a difference and which looks better. I thought the 15 felt fine, but so did the 16. I'm leaning towards the 15 because my 16 Circle Y felt huge. I had a bout 4 fingers comfortably between my thigh and cantle on the 16 but could still get 4 fingers in the 15, just touching my thigh.

I suppose I could have smiled or something....

Can you even tell a difference? I'm not sure if I can even remember which was which. I think the 2nd one is the 15.

Next is color. I want to use the saddle for small open shows (maybe a small breed show someday), occasional trail riding, schooling, and Cowboy Challenges. The light is the clear favorite of show saddles in Stock Horse breeds. Will I look like a newb if I have a darker saddle? Should I get the Light (the 2736)? Will I be afraid to "hurt" or stain the light? Or should I get darker?

Thanks to the wonders of photoshop, here's a guess (lighting could be different in each picture so it's a guess) at how they'll look on Junior and with my black outfit...

Again, I like the first one better, but will I look out of place in the show ring with all the light saddles?

They take 6 weeks to make so the sooner I order the better. My first shows are on May 7th and 8th and I'd like to have a few rides in it before then. This means that I need to order it March 12th at the very latest. The sooner the better, but not sooner than I can make an informed decision.

And if I take one home and ride in it and don't like it, well, then we'll head down a different path.

Hobby Horse just launched their own line of show saddles and I'm really excited to see they have two versions without silver corner plates. They call them "understated." Luckily, my big bay roan Overo Paint usually sticks out in a ring really well by himself and I don't need shocking colors or twinkly lights to help the judge remember us.... though sometimes it might be better if they did miss a few things...

Anyway, any thoughts about color, size, the saddle I like, etc.? Pour it on.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Equine Ownership Rite of Passage: The Lameness Exam

I've now added "Lameness Exam" to our ever growing list of "Things Horse Owners Will Inevitably Have to Deal With" right along side "Fall off" and "Emergency Vet Call."

In true Junior fashion he presented himself 100% sound this morning, purely as a ruse since his friends were outside and he wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of his outdoor enjoyment. He wasn't warm and wasn't lame either direction. BO watched him too and we all agreed he looked totally fine. So out he went. Then Max's Mom came to the barn and says "I saw your boy limping around out there, how's he doing?" so my heart stopped and I walked briskly out to the field to see him. He walked easily over to me I felt his legs again. Nothing. I was about to be late for work. So guiltily I left him out with instructions for EVERYONE I could find to bring him in if they saw anything odd because Dr. J. would be there at noon to check another horse. So I worried about him the whole time I was at work. After work at about 2pm I couldn't help going to check on him and found that Dr. J. was running late and hadn't been there yet.

So we lunged. Dr. J. was busy with another horse and HIS lameness issues so I just worked him. Still no sign of anything at any gait in either direction. Eventually I took him back into the barn and groomed him until Dr. J. was ready to take a real look. Agreeing that he looked fine whenever he glanced over at him, but wanting to have an actual look, he did the flex tests and the hoof tester tests. I've never actually been part of this before so it was somewhat freaky to watch your horse suddenly be SUPER lame for a few steps. Nothing was remarkable. The only thing that gave Dr. J. any information was that he was sensitive if he squeezed his heel side to side and he jogged the lamest after that one. He thinks it's in the hoof, but that it probably isn't a serious issue, more likely another puzzle piece of how he ripped open the front of his blanket and has a wound on his left upper gums: Shenanigans.

So 6 days of Bute and Conquer and keep his routine the same so no riding and normal turnout. If he gets worse or if after 6 days he's not out of it, then I should call. How convenient that tomorrow will be my last day at the barn until next Friday. So now I have a week withOUT the guilty feeling from not riding.

We also discussed the possible stifle issue and he palpated the stifle, but since there is a recognizable lameness in the LF and not one in the LH, we're going to let that be fixed before moving on. Of course, reading in my new book about how important and often overlooked stifles are I'm only a teeeeeeeeeeensy bit freaked out.... in true Overanxious Horse Owner fashion....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dude, You're Like, so Totally Lame

Today was to be my first barn time in a whole week since I worked 8-12 hour days every day since Saturday when he refused to be caught and it was too muddy for me to chase him and all I did was clean stalls with a baby migraine - that day doesn't count as the kind of rejuvenating/recharging barn time I am in desperate need of.

So when I got out to the arena to ride, what do I find? I find a head-bobbing-lame-at-the-trot pony. Ugh. Thankfully my BO was there and helped me determine it was his left front. He was fine at the walk and didn't seem in any pain and was perfectly willing to trot even before I really asked him to. It was warm but not super warm, and since I was wearing gloves while grooming I didn't notice. It doesn't seem super serious so I hosed it and will check him in the morning. Dr. J. will be out at noon to check two other horses so I gave him a heads up that we'd like to be on the list, too. Unfortunately I have to be at work when he's there, of course.

Oh and this morning I got a text from the BM of THIS:

And for your entertainment the text thread the followed:

And no he wasn't sweating when I got to the barn, the BO wouldn't have actually let that happen, I was just being dramatic. Sadly it was no where near warm enough to make him sweat. It's a pretty easy fix, thankfully. He can wear his big coat for a day or two. That's the edge binding you're seeing around his neck. It's a closed-front blanket and he somehow ripped the front seam open and ripped the side out of the edge binding. And the "u" in the text was supposed to be an "I." I can type, really.

Sigh... I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Product Review - SHE System Gloves

If you're just joining us, you can read the pre-purchase post HERE.

I've been using the gloves for a few weeks now. It's been getting a little warmer, of course, but even on the coldest of days when Ohio was imitating Minnesota, they seemed to keep my hands as warm as anything ever has. I have not needed to use hand warmers.

Overall I consider them a good purchase, even though they were on the pricey side. There are some details I'd like to share:
  • I've been layering them with Silk Glove Liners. The inner gloves are quite thin in the fingers to provide greater dexterity, but too thin for the coldest days.
  • The glove fingers ARE too long and sometimes get in my way, but since they are not lined I may be able to alter them slightly. They're a S/M size and are supposed to fit the "shape of a woman's hand" but they are clearly speaking of a much heftier style of woman.
  • Maneuvering the finger and thumb flaps took some getting used to and were rather frustrating in the first few days, but have become second nature.
  • They have actually gotten TOO warm a few times but since the outer mitt is easy to slide off it's a quick fix.
  • Somewhere between riding and cleaning stalls I developed a hefty blister on the pinky side of the first knuckle of my right ring finger. But since that's not where the rein is supposed to sit anyway, maybe it's a good reminder to start holding it right.
  • They are WASHABLE!!! Hooray! I did have to email the company and ask for the washing instructions since they were absent from any of the tags, hang-tags, or box. Machine cold - air dry. Works great!
  • The black suede-like fingers have dyed the glove liners black... not sure if they would have done the same to my fingers or not.
  • On the coldest days I could actually RIDE with three fingers inside the mitts.
  • The mitts eliminate ALL chance of dexterity for tacking, but I was able to clean stalls in them and use brushes.
  • The over-mitts can be worn with ANY other glove, which will be nice for those days when you need to layer on and off constantly.
  • I LOVE the magnets. Most gloves like this use velcro. The magnets do not hold shavings/hair like velcro can, and I only need to get the flaps close to their magnet and they pull themselves together on their own.
They seem to be sold out nearly everywhere, but perhaps by next fall they'll be back in stock at Cabelas.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WTFriday #3

In my hunting for saddles I have come across some eye catching things that I thought I'd share with you.

Kinda makes you want to see what it looks like under a blacklight, doesn't it?

That overlay is a bit thick to put on the jockey, don't you think? And they should probably put the pad on the right direction...

WHY oh WHY is everything patriotic so fugtastic? And do they think the pile of dirty laundry on the ugly 70's chair will help the sale?

I thought they had better taste in the olden days...
it seems I was wrong.

Then called this next one a "Modern Western Saddle"...

Thats.... lots green.

At this rate they really ought to make the pommel and seat zebra, too, or at least either hot pink or lime...

We over here we've got...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Saddle Search - Part II - Updated

Guess what's getting shipped off to Texas tomorrow....


Though the Ebay fees, Papal fees, and increased shipping costs means I'm not getting as much of the purchase price as I'd like, I'm still getting MORE than I was trying to get for it locally. Everyone still wins. Time to go shopping for REALZ.


I've shipped two saddles now and there are things that I didn't really consider before doing so. Here is how YOU can avoid what I've just done.... I still did very well on the sale, but comparing the Auction sale price to what I actually MADE is usually a shocking reality.

Ebay FEES: Ebay's fees are constantly going up. Check Ebay's "Final Value Fees" so you are prepared for what they'll charge you. It's a percentage, but there's a cap so currently anything that sells for over $500 will be $50.
Paypal FEES: Paypal is owned by Ebay now so it's highway robbery because they are really charging you twice. There really is no other option for a safe way to send/receive funds, so you suck it up. It's also on a percentage. AND instead of Ebay taking the listing fee and final value fee out of the purchase price itself, Paypal charges you a percentage based on the final value, THEN you have to pay Ebay fees. They certainly have developed a money maker.
Shipping FEES: A little research can tell you how much it will cost to ship. I thought $75 was reasonable and I assumed I'd have to pay a little more if it had to ship far.
  • Measure the saddle - I ship horn down, just like you set the saddle if there is not a rack available. The smaller the box the cheaper it ships and the less the saddle jostles around the better.
  • If you do not already possess a sturdy box of that size, call the shipper or another box supplier to see what they have. I decided on a 30x20x24 $14 box.
  • Weigh the saddle - they say add 2-5 lbs for box/packing.
  • Call the shippers and get a quote. You'll need the zip it's going to (pick whatever is furthest away from you), the weight, and the box dimensions.
  • Protect the saddle: I removed the stirrups (not the fenders), wrapped the stirrups, mock billets, horn, and the tack in bubble wrap and tape. Encase the saddle in plastic just incase the box gets wet. Put a layer of bubble wrap in the bottom. Pack bubble wrap/air pillows/whatever you've got around the saddle so it stays in place as much as possible. It's the rocking and rubbing that causes damage.
  • The final box weighed in at 48lbs. I estimated the saddle itself was about 40lbs using the scientific method of weighing myself then weighing myself holding the saddle and finding the difference. (I swore that thing was 50lbs, but apparently I'm jus a wuss and the 8 lbs difference between that and my training saddle matters a lot.)
All told, the difference between the final value fee and my actual "earnings" was 205.72. This is still nearly $300 more in "earnings" than I was trying to sell it for locally, so everybody wins, I just wish I had charged $100 for shipping, but sometimes numbers like that scare bidders away, so you never know.
I am still pleased and now I can move on to a new saddle!