Friday, January 22, 2010


"Courage isn't the absence of fear.  It's being scared, but going on anyway."  -  Anon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In An Effort to Make Your Day a Bit More Surreal ...

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? ChloroformMace?):  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?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And Here's to You, Sara Ineson ...

The new year is bringing some changes at the shop:  Sara Ineson left us at the close of '09 to pursue some new challenges.  She started at with Edie in 1996, bringing extensive retail experience from her years in the ski industry.  In addition to being our hunter/jumper and eventing specialist, Sara was our buyer, staying on top of inventory and trends, and doing the ordering.

Sara was also The Organizer.  Whether she was displaying bridles (hung to Pony Club specs, thank you very much), running sales reports or setting the target time for the annual hunter pace, Sara not only had all the ducks in a row - she made sure they were organized by height, marching in step, all in the same direction, with their bills spit-shined and their feathers in fine trim.

So we all wanted to say a little something about the years we've worked with Sara.  And since it's my blog, I get to go first:

I've known Sara since high school, when she used to terrify me at local horse shows by burning up the course in the jumper classes. (I can remember watching her and her horse Forté during one jump-off, clearing fences at about Mach 4, and thinking, "Ohmygod, they're gonna die, they're gonna die" - which, obviously, they didn't.)  She taught me a ton about the world of forward-seat riding, showing me the differences between an equitation-focus saddle and a jump-focus saddle, educating me about proper hunt turn-out and explaining the intricacies of Three-Day eventing.  She's a great teacher and friend; I'm going to miss her practical, no-nonsense take on things. I'm glad that she's going to be keeping her mare Hobette here at the farm so we can continue to have our barn aisle conversations about gardening, photography and the State of Horses and Saddle Fitting.

From Edie:

We bid a very fond farewell and good luck to Sara Ineson who has been with the shop through its formative years, and has dealt brilliantly with two entire computer systems. Sara's knowledge of retail is tremendous and I give her a lot of credit in the success of our business.  Sara's horse, "Hobette" will continue to reside at the farm, so we will have the good fortune to be able to access Sara's saddle fitting knowledge from over the paddock fence for some of the tougher cases!  Good luck to you, Sara, and thank you so much for years and years of hard work.

From Nancy:

Sara and I have worked together for 11 years and together we have watched the shop grow into a "Force to be Reckoned with" (as we've been called!) and I will truly miss her and what she brings to the Tack Shop. We sort of fill in each other's missing pieces. Sara is very detail oriented and great with numbers. I see a customer's sales record and my eyes cross and glaze. Yet, we both go that extra mile for our customers and work together on many saddle orders to make sure it's the perfect fit. I've grown to rely on her knowledge and competency. She is my friend and we have shared so much of our lives over the years. I wish her much joy and love in the next phase of her life.