Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Blogger: "It's About Henry" by Edie Tschorn

Every once in a while, you run into one of those pieces of writing that makes you stop in your tracks and think, something that speaks to you in more ways than the writer probably intended, something that's so pithy and germane that you have to share with everyone you know. 

That happened to me today. 

Being the TMT Grammar Nazi, it falls to me to edit most of the articles that go on our web site and into our monthly newsletter (which you can sign up for here if you're interested; the little sign-up box is toward the bottom of the page on the left).  When Edie's article popped up in my "In" box, I scanned it quickly, had a great laugh, and then set to editing.  It was tough to do, because I kept getting caught up in the message, thinking of ways it relates to my relationship with Lyric ... and my kids and husband ... and my dogs ... and my work ... and my martial arts .. and ...

Well, you get the idea.

When I was finally through with the technical stuff, I asked if I could reprint it here.  Edie kindly gave me permission.  Hope you all enjoy it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Undead

Anyone who's ever seen the sequel to any really popular slasher / zombie / vampire / chainsaw-wielding maniac / cave-dwelling mutant movie will recognize this scene:  Our Hero(ine), who nearly died at the end of the first movie while dispaching (in some dramatic way) The Really Bad Thing, is sitting in bed, late at night, watching TV and snuggling with The Love Interest.  Suddenly, there's a noise ... an eerily familiar noise ... Our Hero(ine) bolts upright, and The Really Bad Thing bursts into the room and proceeds to reduce The (Now Shrieking) Love Interest to bloody hash while Our Hero(ine) screams, "Ohmygod!  Why won't you just DIE?!"

I had that happen today.  Okay, so there was no Love Interest and no bloody hash and no screaming (though there was profanity), but ... Remember this saddle?  "It's ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ack ..."

... even more ragged and unsafe than before.  Both panels are still loose, but now the left front panel has lost the screw that held the upper corner on the tree, the stitching is broken and the panel's almost completely adrift:

Nice view of the panel foam (what's left of it).

And the other side's just as torn up:


I'm being stalked by The Undead.

Has this saddle been in use since I declared it dead almost two years ago?  I hope not, because this is a wreck waiting to happen.  It was awful back then, and it's worse now.  Perhaps I need to couch my diagnosis in stronger terms this time and hope my message gets through:  I won't be party to a horse and/or rider getting injured because I did a Dr. Frankenstein on this saddle.  I ought to shoot it with a silver bullet, cut off its billets, pound a stake through the seat, wrap it in a string of garlic, strew it with white roses, take it across running water and bury it at a crossroads.  Begone, demon, and follow me no more.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Buyer Beware

I know a lot of people in the horse world are on a budget - myself included.  If I can get free shipping on my mare's supplements, save $20 by buying my salt blocks in bulk, or get a discount on my winter's hay by spending a few days slinging bales and off-loading hay wagons, I'm all over it.  Saving $10 here and $20 there can be a big help.  However, there are deals ... and there are deals.

A customer of mine bought a high-end used jump saddle on eBay, got it for a song, looked fantastic, only a few scuff marks, couldn't believe her luck ... but when it arrived, she noticed some suspicious-looking wrinkles across the seat.  So she propped it on her thigh and flexed it - and it flexed quite a lot.  Being of the opinion that it's better to err on the side of safety, she brough it to me so I could check it out. The degree of flex made me think I should drop the panels check the tree.  Lots of flex isn't always indicative of a compromised tree, but I agreed that erring on the safe side would be a good idea.

Glad I decided that.

Broken spring bar. "But couldn't a good saddler just replace that?" I hear you ask.  Possible in theory, but usually, if there's been enough trauma to snap a spring bar, there's other damage on top of that.  Case in point:  though it doesn't show in this photo (and I couldn't get a decent shot of it), the tree's cracked on both sides at the rear of the flap.  And ...

... the lower head plate is broken as well.

I didn't peel the seat off to check the upper head plate - this tree is a complete write-off as it is - but that may be compromised, too.  This sort of damage usually comes from the saddle somehow coming between the horse and the ground - either the horse flipping over on it, or rolling on it in the stall.  There were some scuff marks on the pommel and cantle which would be pretty consistent with the latter, though if the horse landed on the saddle in deep, soft footing, that could cause similar marks.  

So here's the deal on buying used saddles:  caveat emptor.  If you're buying it from a reliable tack shop with a knowledgeable staff, chances are it's gone through a pretty thorough safety check.  However, if you're buying from an unknown source or individual, they may not be informed enough to know if the saddle's safe ... or they may be unscrupulous enough that they don't much care (though in this litigious climate, that's becoming less and less common).

If my client is willing to spend between $700 and $1200, she might be able to have this saddle re-treed - IF this model is still in production and she can find a replacement tree.  If so, she'll have to purchase it (most trees run between $200 and $350), pay shipping and import fees from the UK/EU (which can easily run equal to or even exceed the price of tree) and another $400-$600 for the actual re-tree, plus shipping to and from the saddler.  Tack on the initial price of the saddle - even if it was only $500 - and you're in the neighborhood of a nice quality used saddle in safe and sound condition ... without the frustration and time waste.