Clever Equines (and Saddle Stuff)

Hey all – thanks for all the support from yesterday’s post. I sure appreciate the empathy and ideas. You all rock.

Today it’s rainy and cold PLUS both Lee and I seem to have come down with something. I haven’t been sick since LONG before COVID, so this is a surprise. It feels like strep throat (isn’t COVID, says my test), but of course it came on after the local clinic closed for the weekend. We did go out for a very nice dinner Thursday night in the “big city” of College Station, so maybe we ran into a germ there.

The original plan for today was to have horse lessons for both my guys then take Drew back home so it could be another horse’s turn to go into training. Instead, things took a different turn. I went out to feed the chickens a bit late, due to the sore throat, only to see a whole lot of horse poop everywhere that isn’t fenced in for the dogs. Then I heard a greeting nicker. Mabel was saying hi from the little pond.

Well, hi, Suna. It’s a bit chilly out here.

That explained the horse poop. I went to check the gates and was a little startled to see someone blending into the front-end loader.

I’m using this tractor as camouflage.

Yes, the side gate had been opened by some clever equine. I was relieved to see the equine I usually blame for these things (Apache) and Fiona standing under the shed to keep out of the wind. Whew. I only had to wrangle two horses in my sickly state. Even better, Dusty and Mabel had decided it was too cold for them and were already coming back.

That grass was good, but we want shelter.

That was the easiest horse herding I ever had to do. They just walked back in. From the looks of the poop piles, they’d been out all night and were done. Of course, they pooped right by the tack room, in front of the hen house, etc.

Lee and I then hurried over to Tarrin’s to get Drew, but it had started to rain there by the time we arrived. There was no chit-chat or ceremony as we let him in and headed back. They got more rain than us, at least so far. But my boy is home and got the expected greeting of sniffs from everyone but Apache, who had to remind him he’s in charge. Apache needs a new boss.

About the new saddle

I got more questions than I expected about the new saddle I got for Drew. The reason I got a new one when I already had a fairly new one is that we are concerned about keeping Drew’s back healthy. Because he was ridden by large people when he was very young, he has already developed some arthritic areas. He also has a narrow torso and short back (basically, he’s a small horse). So, a standard saddle probably isn’t best for him.

Tarrin recommended a type of saddle made by DP Saddlery in Alabama that is good for both short-backed horses and those with back issues. The cool thing about their Quantum line is that it is a blend of the two most common ways of building saddles. It’s like the best of both worlds. It also comes in lots of different sizes to fit different horses and riders, so I could get one with shorter stirrups and the correct seat for my size.

My black saddle with short fenders covered in flowers.

So, there are lots of kinds of saddles, but in the US, most are either Western or English style (there are Australian ones, side saddles, and such, but these are the main two). A Western saddle is, generally speaking, built on a rigid and sturdy wooden frame called a tree, which is then covered with padding and leather. They usually have a saddle horn to stick your rope on, longer stirrups, and more covering of the horse. There are many variations, depending on what you do with your horse (roping, barrel racing, general ranch work, etc.) but they look similar. They are tough!

Parts of a Western saddle, from Horse is Love. See the link for more info. My saddle lacks the back housing and the rigging dees.

And English saddle is smaller than a Western one and built on a flexible tree with a lot of padding (flocking). It doesn’t have the saddle horn or the long stirrups. It’s used for jumping, dressage, and many other activities.

The parts of an English saddle, from Horse is Love (follow the link for more info)

My saddle (as well as the first one I had) is a hybrid between the two types. It’s their Quantum model (the link explains all the features, so I’m not gonna do it here). The top has all the expected appearance of a Western saddle, including decorative tooling on the leather, a horn, and a padded seat (mine is called a Western dressage seat). The underparts are English, though, and it’s fastened on with an English cinch instead of a Western one (uses buckles). I could have gotten a similar model with Western rigging (as they call it) but that one was sold and the one I bought was the closest to my ideal that I could get without special ordering, which would take months.

A Western saddle would have leather under the seat, not the pads you see here.

This hybrid saddle doesn’t touch the spine of the horse at all, and has padding where it does touch. Plus, it comes with a giant allen wrench that lets you make the saddle wider or more narrow.

The magic tool came with no instructions. Geez.

Tarrin adjusted it a few times yesterday to find what works best. As it gets broken in, it can be adjusted more, too. That is a very cool feature.

That silver circular hole on the right is where the adjustments are made.

Combined with the new dark gray saddle pad I got, Drew should feel as comfortable as possible, given that he’ll still have a big ole person up there.

Here’s the saddle, the new pad, and my old cinch that happens to work, but is slightly large.

I better like this saddle. It’s an investment, but if it saves future doctor bills, it may pay for itself!

Since I feel so sick, I think I’m going to go read all about saddles at the links below. You can, too, if it’s remotely interesting to you.

References

DP Saddlery – this page tells you how the saddle I got adjusts.

THE 8 PARTS OF A WESTERN SADDLE YOU SHOULD KNOW, Horseislove blog. This is really informative! It shows you how the trees work and how saddles are constructed.

THE 15 PARTS OF ENGLISH SADDLE YOU SHOULD KNOW, Horseislove blog. Also tells you all you need to know!

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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