Friday, June 21, 2013

Special Delivery

I ordered Rock's saddle at the end of May and found out that it had been back-ordered.  After a couple of weeks I called to ask whether the wait would be a matter of days, weeks or months, because if it was going to take too long, I would order something else.  The customer service rep told me it would be shipped within the next two days.  I called five days later to ask for the tracking number, and the same customer service rep found out that they never shipped it.  She got on their case and demanded that they ship it that very day.  She said she would call me the next business day to give me the tracking number, but she didn't.

I figured they once again did not ship the saddle, so I started looking at other options.  Just when I was about to order a different saddle and cancel my order for the first saddle, my credit card statement came in the mail showing that they already collected payment on the first saddle.  I decided to hold off and see what happens.  I checked the porch each day for a big box, but it was never there.

Then on Thursday night when I had a screaming headache, nausea and a runny nose, I staggered past the front door on my way to bed and saw the saddle on the doorstep.  I dragged it in and immediately opened the box and inspected the saddle for damage.  The box was messed up pretty bad and the saddle had next to no protection or wrapping other than some wool over the horn and one foam sheet loosely jammed in the box.  I've had a saddle arrive with a broken horn in the past.

This saddle had some pock marks in the leather, but they were oiled over, so that didn't happen during shipping, but manufacturing.  Though I didn't feel well enough to check how it fit Rock, I knew I had to do it or I wouldn't be able to sleep that night.  Fortunately, it is very lightweight at 24 pounds, so I was able to carry it down to the barn with my nausea and sprained finger.  I tried it on him with just a towel and it met all the criteria I know regarding saddle fitting.  Then I tried it on him with his new pad, and the saddle sat rock solid without a cinch.  There was no rock from front to back and no roll from side to side.  My husband and I decided to keep it, so I cut off all the tags and put the box away in storage.

I then tried it on Lostine since her old saddle has been rubbing her back above the kidneys.  She was so concerned about getting her dinner that she was resistant to being a good fashion model.  I couldn't get her to stand straight, so it was hard for me to tell if the saddle would work for her.  I gave up, fed the horses and said I'd try again in the morning.

The night was awful.  I could feel my throat swelling and kept having nightmares that I needed to go to the bathroom, but couldn't find a toilet.  I also dreamed that I needed to take a shower, but couldn't find the soap and shampoo.  I was woken at 1:30 AM by what sounded like a horse kicking a water trough repeatedly, so I grabbed a flashlight and went down to the barn, but all the horses were sleeping quietly.  I figured the pounding I heard was all in my head -- probably my blood pressure.

Then I was woken by coyotes howling just a few feet outside the door, so I opened the door and shooed them away.  Then I was woken by the dogs needing to go out to pee.  Then I was woken by the alarm to feed the horses.  Then I was woken by the dogs wanting their breakfast.  Then I was woken by the alarm to give Midge her insulin.  Then I was woken by my husband asking if I gave Midge her insulin.  I couldn't wake up, but I couldn't sleep either.  My body knew I had to get more sleep or I would get sicker, but I was so anxious and angry over not being allowed to sleep that I couldn't sleep peacefully.  Worst night's sleep ever.

By the time I got to try the saddle on Lostine again, it was too close to lunch and once again she was anxious about me possibly taking her for a trail ride and her not getting to eat, so she was bracing against the lead rope with her hind legs underneath her.  I decided that she just can't have a saddle with a square skirt, so I'm putting her back in the round skirt Arabian saddle.  I meant to try the new saddle on Rock again, but forgot because my son showed up for a visit.  We were busy the rest of the afternoon driving around town trying to find a restaurant that was open during the summer.  It seems that once the snowbirds leave, so do the restaurant owners and staff.  I think all three of us got our first meal of the day around 3:00 PM.

I made a point of lunging Rock with the saddle on long before his dinner.  While the saddle fit perfect running it through its paces on a bare back, and also with a pad, once I tightened the cinch, the tree seemed to flex a little more than I expected, lowering the fork and gullet so that I could get about 2.5 fingers in there and tipping the back of the skirt up.  When he trotted, the back of the saddle popped up and down.  I'm sure that once a rider is in the saddle, that won't be happening, but it's a new phenomena to me and it suggests to me that the saddle tree might be a bit too wide.  Also, Rock is built downhill with high hips and low withers, so the saddle naturally slopes toward his withers.

Rock was an angel being cinched up.  He didn't "bloat his belly" or "tense his chest muscles" at all,  nor did he nip at me.  He seemed perfectly comfortable in the saddle.  When I'm feeling better and when it isn't so dang hot I'll ride in it and let you know how it goes.  Hopefully, that will be soon since I only have 10 days to return it.

Since the saddle is mainly for my husband, it has a 17" seat, which I discovered means that the saddle maker assumes that the person has longer legs, and thus they make the fenders longer.  I'm not sure I'll be able to reach the stirrups comfortably with them on their shortest notch.  Also, my husband is long waisted, which means he has shorter legs too.  If we can't reach the stirrups, that will be a definite deal breaker.  Fortunately, the pad I've been using with the saddle is brand new and clean, so the saddle will be clean enough to return, if necessary.  But I'm hoping it will just all work out.  I'm tired of obsessing over this.

Anyway, here it is.  It's a Tex Tan Seminole Flex Tree Trail Saddle.

The above picture is not a good representation of how it sits, because his hind end was on a hill.  But you can still see how, being a lightweight saddle, that the seat and skirt tip up in the back.  I'm thinking I will also readjust the latigos to only use the furthest forward rigging to help push the saddle further back so that it doesn't interfere with his shoulder movement.

In the picture above, Rock has his head up and is standing more level, so the saddle looks like it has a better fit.  His posture has a lot to do with whether the saddle looks like it fits just by looking at it.

The sweat pattern without a rider.  You can see it is concentrated where there was contact.  Once someone is actually sitting in the saddle, I suspect the sweat pattern will be more even.  I feel like semi-quarter horse bars would pinch or a narrower gullet would just end up being too narrow.  The templates I used showed him needing full quarter horse bars, which is what I ordered.  They say it's better to err on the side of being too wide.

A few weeks ago I did a dumb thing and tried kicking a 2x4 under a boulder to leverage it, and I think I broke one of those little tiny bones in my foot because it still hurts.  Then when I lifted the saddle onto Lostine's back on Thursday's trail ride, I hurt my fingers.  I figured the sting would go away, so I just ignored it, but now it's looking like I've got a sprain in the hand at the base of my index finger.  If I keep moving, I can ignore the foot and hand pain, but if I sit for a long period and then try to get up and walk and use my hands, I feel it.  It sure is getting easier to hurt myself and taking longer to heal as I get older.


fernvalley01 said...

glad you got the saddle sucks about being so sick

Beckz said...

Hey I have nominated you for an award! Please collect from

Cheryl Ann said...

I stubbed my big toe up here at the cabin and it broke the skin. Now, this is the toe that is already sore because of a toenail fungus from when I used to have my nails done, so it REALLY hurt. I hobbled around for a day, finally soaked it, and put Neosporin on it, and it didn't hurt. I also bought some Epsom salts...

Nice story about your saddle. I hope it works out. It would be a hassle to have to order a new one!

strivingforsavvy said...

The saddle looks nice. I don't know if this has been mentioned before, but what about using a back cinch? When properly fitted (somewhat snug around horse and with a short hobble to the main cinch so it rests on ribs not the soft belly) it really does a great job at keeping the saddle in place and stopping it from bouncing around.

Reddunappy said...

Beautiful saddle! I like the sweat pattern it left on his back, spread wide! I was going to suggest moving it back a notch, but you did that! :O) Did your hubby ride in it yet? Rock sure is a pretty boy.! It is probably to wide for Lostine, Arab trees are flatter at the bars, but not wider. Hope it all works out! And that you feel better soon!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

strivingforsavvy - I was thinking about that. I've always been hesitant about using a back cinch, but your explanation on how to fit it helps.

Reddunappy - No one has ridden in it yet. I first have to make sure the saddle will work, then I have to make sure the horse is safe for my hubby to ride. It's been a month since we test rode him. The way things have been going, I'm very skeptical and cautious about everything.

Cindy D. said...

Those dreams you described...I have dreams like that A LOT! The are so frustrating. And it never fails, the days or nights when you really need sleep, no one else wants to cooperate.

Since you have ridden Rock by now, I know, because I read the post earlier, let me just say that I am glad you are feeling better.