I just got off the phone with one of those people who makes you go, "Now wait a minute here ..." My conversation with her made me feel (to misquote Steven King) as though I'd been in a pillow fight in which the pillows had been treated with a mild toxin.
CALLER: I need some advice on monoflap saddles.
ME: Sure, I'd be happy to help you. What would you like to know?
CALLER: I need some advice on monoflap saddles!
ME: Ok ... close contact, all-purpose or dressage?
CALLER: Close contact.
ME: Did you have any particular saddle in mind?
CALLER: No. I need advice on monoflap saddles!
ME: Ok, sure. What kind of horse are you trying to fit?
CALLER: A Belgian warmblood cross.
ME: A Belgian warmblood cross ... Just so I understand, are we talking about a Belgian warmblood crossed with something, or a Belgian draft horse crossed with a warmblood?
CALLER: A Belgian draft crossed with a Thoroughbred, of course.
ME: Ah ... Belgian-Thoroughbred. I see, thanks. Well, unless you want to consider a Black Country Vinici, most monoflap saddles aren't designed to fit the wider horses, so maybe -
CALLER: Belgian warmblood cross. He's a medium-wide.
ME: Ok, that's helpful. Medium-wide in what saddle?
CALLER: He's a medium-wide!
ME: Ok, fine, medium wide. Can you tell me a little about his conformation? Does he have a big wither, or is he more flat-backed? Does he -
CALLER: What does that matter? He's a ME-dium WIDE - I TOLD you that.
ME: Yes, right. Unfortunately, 'medium-wide' can vary from saddle to saddle, so without knowing a little about the way your horse is built, I can't really make much in the way of solid recommendations about saddles. If -
CALLER: I TOLD you- he's a MEdium-WIDE!!
ME: Yes, thanks, I understand. But width is only one factor here - we need to consider tree shape and panel configuration, too. Would it be possible to have you send a template of your horse's back and some photos? It's pretty hard to make any kind of meaningful recommendation -
CALLER: Look, do you want to help me, or not?
ME: Well, yes - yes, I do. Really. But without knowing more about your horse, I can't really tell you which monoflap saddles would be your best -
CALLER (sighing heavily): Ok. So just tell me about the Frank Baines.
ME: Sure. The Enigma.
CALLER (even bigger sigh): Well of COURSE the Enigma - do you have any OTHER Baines monoflap saddles?
ME: Not close contact, no. Well, the Enigma is a real jump-focus saddle - great cross-country saddle, and is designed -
CALLER: How does it fit the HORSE?!
ME: Those saddles are designed with the leaner, more Thoroughbred-type horse in mind. More like an eventer.
CALLER: What do you mean, "eventer"?
ME: Um, three-day eventers? Lean and rangy conformation ... often Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred crosses, bigger wither and -
CALLER: The Vega?
ME: Again, the leaner Thoroughbred-type horse, I'm afraid.
CALLER: Well, what DO you have that might work for me?
ME (And I'm normally pretty easy-going where customers are concerned, but by this time I'll admit that I was thinking, Valium? Chloroform? Mace?): I'm really not trying to be obtuse, but -
CALLER: WHAT did you just say to me?!?
ME: I'm really not trying to be difficult here, honest - I do want to help you. But without knowing a little more about your horse, I'd be blowing smoke if I told you to try this saddle or that saddle. In order to really help you out, I have to know -
I guess I didn't have the info she wanted ...
Well, you know, some days are like that: it's just not worth chewing through the straps. Fortunately, most of the people I deal with are far more polite and far more forthcoming with details about their horse, and are more than happy to provide me with the information I need to make comprehensive recommendations about saddles that might actually fit. And honestly, I'm thinking maybe this person was one of those Secret Shoppers who get paid to be difficult. Who else would get anything out of acting like that?