Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don't Go There, Girlfriend (Got My Crank On)

I love it when people comment on my blog.  I take that as an indicator that the info I've put out has given them something to think about, or touched on an experience they've had or maybe answered a question they've always had but never asked.  Comments also give me an idea of what people want to hear about, and it gives them a chance to share experiences they've had.

There are two things I will NOT tolerate, however:  First, I won't allow people to talk smack about an individual fitter/trainer/rider/rep/tack shop (see this post), even if they're righteously pissed because of something rotten the fitter/trainer/rider/rep/tack shop has done.  This isn't the venue for that sort of conversation.

Second, I will not tolerate comments made by individuals seeking a sleazy, back door method of promoting their web site - especially their saddle and tack retail web site.  I've had a slew of those recently.  I moderate all comments, and yes, I do check to see where they come from ... so no, you aren't going to get a freebie link on this blog just by saying things like, "WOW.  Fantastic post.  Very informative as well.  Keep posting. I am waiting for your next post :)." This is sort of like pretending to give someone a pat on the back while trying to stick a "GO TO MY SITE" sign on their shirt.  While it's nice to know that people find my posts helpful and informative, I'm not starved for validation.

While there have been a lot of comments in this vein (some quite literate, and some that make me want to repeatedly slam my face into my keyboard) the ultimate in icky (at least so far), has to be this one: "Jeffries manufactures its own spring trees, each to a design that is renowned for its excellent fit, produced in 6-ply laminated wood to prevent distortion whilst retaining flexibility for comfort. Jeffries also source specialist trees from Walsall based manufacturers. The finest quality leather is prepared and finished meticulously, providing ultimate durability and rider safety."  I'm not sure what I find most amazing ...their sheer laziness in lifting something right from Jeffries' ad copy, the fact that they didn't think I'd recognize something lifted from Jeffries' ad copy, or just the fact that they had the balls to lift this from the Jeffries' ad copy and try to pass it off as a legit comment.  Now they're not just trying to use me, they've also brought Jeffries Saddlery (an old and well-respected UK saddle maker) into the mix ... Look, Mom!  Sleaze squared! 

So while I'm more than happy to publish ideas, questions and commentary, don't try to use this as a portal to your web site.  It won't succeed, you'll only piss me off (and that's not much of a feather in your cap - I'm usually just a short jump from that state on most days), and eventually karma will bite you.  You won't rise to the top by climbing over someone else's head.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Circa 1957 - Go Into the Light

I am a sentimental pack rat.  This is not a fact most people know, since it's usually obscured by my ouchy-bleedy, non-warm-and-fuzzy personality ... but it's true.  I save silly stuff:  a matchbook from the dance club where my husband and I met, a cheap souvenir key chain from a trip to Paris, my sons' first shirts and locks of hair from their first haircuts, one of Lyric's baby teeth (and all of my kids' baby teeth) and my very first plush toy (a musical lamb that plays Brahm's "Lullaby").  Of course, this is true of my tack, as well.  I have all of my mom's old western tack as well as my own; I even have  my first western pony saddle and bridle (red leather with brass tacks), so I understand the attachment that can develop with a piece of tack that you've had since dirt formed.  Just seeing it reminds you of the horse or pony you rode it in, and touching the well-worn leather can bring back the adventures and the mishaps and the bone-deep satisfaction you feel when you dismount after a truly good ride.  It's not just a thing made of leather, wood and metal - it's an integral part of your horse life, a history book, almost another limb.  So yes, I understand the attachment.

I also know understand that your tack, like your horse, will reach retirement age; a time when it's great to look at but perhaps not so wise for actual use.  The saddle in the photos below is a perfect example of this.  It's an old polo saddle that was originally purchased in Oxford, England in 1957, sent to me for a strip flock and new billets.

The plate says it was made by Hayes saddle makers in Cirencester. The leather is on the fragile side - it's covered with rain spots, and I'm not certain how well it would hold up if I started trying to dismantle or re-stitch anything - but the stirrup bars were tight, the billets and webbing seemed sound enough, and at first glance, it looked quite decent for 54 years old.

Then I looked at it from the front, and I noticed some serious crookedness:

As you can see, the cantle slants off to the saddle's left, and the right panel seems to be a smidge higher than the left at the pommel.  When viewed from the back, the crookedness is even more obvious:

The cantle is far to the left of the pommel - looks to me as though this saddle has been mounted from the ground a LOT.  Even the panels are misaligned:

Close-up of rear of the panels - the unevenness is really obvious here:

Giving an owner the news that it's time to put the old reliable trooper out to pasture is always a touchy bit of work.  Some people take it well, and some look for any way to forestall the inevitable:  "I'll only use it on the old horse I've used it on for 23 years" or "I'll only use it on greenies as a breaking saddle" or "I'll only ride at the walk!"  Fortunately, this customer was understanding and figured that after 54 years of service, his saddle was indeed ready to "go into the light."