Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saddles... Long...

Somewhere in Eastern, WA :-)
I've been trying to convince myself for a while now that my saddle was working, would work, should work, could work, might work better - if - if - I could find the right combination of pad/shims,etc. that would give me an even sweat pattern.  Things started out fine, first on Khari - then on Farah - (See post)  but now that Farah has worn it for over 18-mo. it's just obvious that it's not working.   Yes - she's now fit & her shape has changed.  But - there are so many issues...  The sheering of the hair over her loins, her wanting to buck with me - prior to adding the pad with shims.  The improved the behavior - but didn't eliminate it.  When I added an additional shim to the front - some of the waves on her withers went away - but then, I could feel too much pressure under the front of the saddle.   Amazingly enough -  when her back is checked - it never appears that she is sore.

There's my fit too - I've always said it was just fine, because when you spend a lot of money on a saddle you want it to be "fine"!  The twist has always felt too wide, but over time - my muscles stretched & I post so much that it felt "normal" to me.  When Sandra rode in it - she too commented that it was pretty wide, but a nice seat.  It certainly has the security & close contact that I like.

Never a fan of off-the-rack saddles or ralide trees - having the opportunity to order a custom saddle with hand-carved wood tree had a huge appeal for me.  Riding in a custom saddle made by a quality saddle maker is an experience that everyone should try - at least once.  But - again - it's an investment.

Hind sight being 20/20 - if I were to do it again - I would only order from someone geographically close enough that I could get my horse to them for a fitting.  No forms, no molds, not just photos...  a fitting.  I would show some restraint & wait to order one - until after the horse had a couple years of riding on them.

That said - after Justin & Tony checked out my saddles' fit - fresh eyes...  I decided enough was enough, did some research & made a call to Everett Olson of Olson's Saddle Shop, near Ellensburg.  My thinking - a craftsman close enough to visit & if he made saddles there - in ranching country - he was probably really good at his craft.  The good news?  Mr. Olson agreed to look at my saddle & Farah - to see what was going on & what might be done.  (Something I really appreciated, since I had contacted the maker of my saddle & he was not interested in making any changes to the saddle.)  (I'd tried to sell it between Khari & Farah - but had no luck.)
Almost over the Top!
We loaded Farah - were on the road early & on our way to Ellensburg!  The pass report was for clear & wet roads.  From partial sun at home, to rain on the pass, to partly cloudy on the far side - it was a stunningly beautiful trip - like driving through a "Winter" scene on a postcard.   We found our way - down a couple country roads & to the sign that starts this post!

You meet people only now & then - that when you shake hands - it feels like you've been friends forever.  It was that way with Everett, Carolyn & us :-)  That - with the fun of walking into a saddle shop rich with the smell of leather & full of beautiful saddles - made for a great time & interesting, informative day.
Farah with Everett's tree - you can see the blister on her side from the rigging on mine...
What was instantly apparent to me, was that about any tree or saddle we tried fit better than mine!
Farah wearing Carolyn's saddle~
When I tried this saddle, the first thing I noticed, was that my legs were so much more comfortable - actually falling from my hips - rather than stretched further apart.  When Carolyn - (my size) tried my saddle - she commented on how wide the twist was...

To my good fortune, Mr. Olson has agreed to tear my saddle apart - remove the current tree, that has numerous issues that make it unusable for me or my horse.  The swell & gullet combination was wrong - allowing the front to drop - (Putting more pressure on Farah's withers as I added shims.)  The bars of the tree are - too flat - again - causing the saddle to sit lower in front & not make any contact in the back & very little contact along the bars...  (Cause of the loin rubbing & sore spot from the rigging.)  Very heavy in front & on her shoulders...  From what I understand, the bar angle is something that each individual saddle maker decides on - dependent on the other measurements for the tree.

By the time we loaded Farah to head home, we were both feeling very positive both over our good fortune in meeting Everett & Carolyn & hopeful that I'm finally on the right track in soon finally riding in that "perfect" saddle!  :-)   Time dependent - because I'm not fond of my temporary saddle - I've asked Everett to take some photos of what my saddle looks like during this process.  In the meantime...  it's back to the 91 Big Horn - that at least isn't too wide or too narrow!



  1. My condolences on the Saddle Quest - but it sure sounds like you're in good hands with those people!

  2. Connie, This is the first that we have heard about your saddle and the tree. You made this purchase five years ago and had no idea there was anything wrong. Please call 208-888-3351 and talk to me.

  3. Mike, I contacted you when it wasn't working on Khari - asked if you could fix it or sell it for me & you said no to both. That's when I put it up for sale & had to use Dean's saddle for almost a year. I didn't expect that answer would change now that I have a different horse. Sure didn't want to spend more money - or have it torn down, but it didn't sell, even when I marketed it nationally. I ride too many miles to continue using it when nothing would make it work. Will give you a call~


Always Welcome~