Monday, June 23, 2014

The Great Saddle Trading Escapade

Last week really wore me out, between the mixed up schedule, the company, and the preparing for company, I was pretty much exhausted by Saturday night.  In fact I slept a full 12 hours once I got home from work Saturday.

Sunday I woke up feeling better, but then it was time to go get some running done.  Horse feed to buy, human feed to buy, and a trip to home depot for a misting system for the dogs.

It was wicked hot yesterday with no breeze what so ever, so once the running was done I sat down and relaxed and soaked up some AC.  About 6 pm, I headed outside and decided to see just how well I had done on my saddles.

In some ways I was pleasantly surprised, and in others I thought something more like "Whoops, should have thought about that!"

I took each horse and tried each saddle on them to see who could wear what.  And of course I took lots of photos.

I started with Killian (please keep in mind that none of these saddles are cinched down)

This is my old Circle Y- It is my favorite saddle.
However when I cleaned it , I really soaked the heck out of it.
The stand I had it on when I was drying it,
allowed it to fold in some.  

Still it is pretty wide and seems to fit him ok.
It is a 1999 model with SQHB

While it is in much better shape than when I started
It still needed another round of
leather conditioning. 

Next up on Killian was the New Circle Y- This is a 2000 model also with SQHB  However this one is shorter in length and I am guessing it might be a flex tree because it is so much lighter than the 99 model.

It actually does sit on him ok, but looks so tiny on him. 

However I am super happy with how this one turned out.

This fender was completely bubbled out.
By wetting it, then oiling well and clamping between
2 pieces of ply wood I was able to get it to
go back into shape.  But the lines are where
the had been stretched. 

A view on his shoulder

I love that my breast collar matches- especially once I oiled it too. 

This was what it looked like before I bought it. 

Next up was the old Colorado Saddlery. This one is quite old, but in good shape. However it is also pretty narrow. Would be good for a TB or perhaps and Arabian.

Much too narrow for this big boy

Look at the beautiful red this saddle used to be. 

I removed the Easy Up stirrups and added regular ones

For as old as it is, this saddle is in pretty decent shape.
The leather is soft and supple.  

Last but not least is the one I have not worked on yet. The 200 dollar cutting saddle. At least I believe that is what it is. I could be wrong, and if someone has a different opinion, please speak up.   As you can see from the pictures it needs a lot of work, but is a nice size for this big old guy.

I am hoping that I can fix this one. 

This seems to be the problem area

It is quite wide in the front though
7" gullet, which is nice.
Also the seat is probably 17" so TC can ride in it.  

Then I tried everything on Melody
The old CS- She actually could wear this in a pinch

She is slightly narrower than the rest of my ponies

I did notice that when this saddle was drying
It had been pushed up against the wall
causing that back to roll under a tad.
It is currently soaking again with a brace to
fix that. 

Then came the old Circle Y- I don't know if it is because it is longer, or better broke in or what, but it has the same bars and gullet as the new one- and the one I just got rid of, yes this saddle fits all my horses so much better.  The only down side is that I have the latigo and cinch on the rear ring in order to keep from rubbing Trax's pink skin. That particular set up doesn't work so well on the rest of the horses.  But fit wise- it is the best. (IMO)

If you biggify you can see the drywall screw
holding it together.  :(

Last but not least- the New Circle Y.  I actually rode her in this after I was done with the pictures, and she was not unhappy with it. She likes it much better than the old cutter.  It was comfy for me, although it feels kind of small, but I think that is just because I am used to my old saddle.  Plus she is narrower so when I look down at her shoulders, everything looks smaller.  LOL
I am not unhappy with how this fits her shoulders

However, I think it is awfully short for such a long horse

I realize my breast collar is too long. I need to add some holes. 

Then it was Trax's turn to try things on.  He was less than thrilled.  We started with his saddle and his pad.  I have come to the conclusion that this saddle has been on him so much- it has conformed to his body.

Next up the old CS-  I'm sure you guess how well that worked.
Um no! 

You can see where the back of saddle is folding under

He has fat shoulders. 
Now the New Circle Y- while I could probably get away with it on him for a little while, I do not love the way it fits.

It seems to sit a little high on his shoulders. 

What do you guys think? 
Our final saddle fit of the evening was Trax in the old cutter.


This side seems to fold in a bit

This shot really shows the wonkiness in the back end of it

This shoulder isn't too bad. 
So here is where I am at with all the saddles.  The old CS will go up for sale. I will add the cinch and latigo back on it, and keep it clean and advertise it.  I will ask $400.00 I think- although I doubt I will get that much.  What ever I get will go into the "new saddle fund".

The old cutter will get a make over.  But because I think it needs some serious reshaping I will not attempt this until a have a really solid saddle stand made which is formed closer to the shape of a horses back. It won't be perfect but at least a little rounder. That will give me the ability to add some shape to my saddle.  Then I will go to work on it.  Once I am done with it, I will make the decision on if it is a keeper or a seller.  Knowing that I paid so little for it, I'm sure I can at least make a little bit off of it, if I decide not to keep it.  Well I guess I should say, as long as there isn't anything seriously wrong with it.

The New Circle Y- turned out beautifully, but I don't love love love it like I had hoped I was going to. While it does work on Melody, I really want a saddle that works on more than one horse.  I think that with the real silver breast collar and headstall I have a very nice set up there.  The breast collar and headstall are also Circle Y made, and the concho's on those are real silver.  At the very least I know that I can get my money back on the entire set up, hopefully I can get just a little extra for my labor.   I'd be curious to hear what you folks think I could ask for it, without being over the top.

I keep going back in my mind to the older Circle Y which I saw in Camp Verde.  It is a large saddle like mine, not a show saddle, but a working saddle. (I wish I had taken a picture of it)   It is not the $1200.00 trail saddle that was so gorgeous it made my mouth water, but it is a very nice saddle just the same.  I really want to find something with FQHB and since I now know how to read those Circle Y serial numbers a lot better, I think I can make a smarter decision when buying next time.

I do have another Circle Y coming to me from CO to try out in a couple of weeks.  It is actually a cutting saddle too, and I am excited to see it, and try it out and hopefully TC will want to buy it to replace his roping saddle he sold.  If not then maybe that will be the one I buy out of my own saddle fund.  We will just have to see.

So goes the continuing saga of the saddle trading escapade.  Who knows where it is going to end up? LOL

In other news, the last few times I rode Killian I spent a lot of time just pushing his shoulders back and forth, and I found that he really has some nice moves.  I may have mentioned this before. I made the decision recently that in the fall when all the sorting and penning practices start up again, I am actually going to start taking all three of my riders for some of these practices.  I think Killian will do well, and I know Melly will.  Trax will remain to be seen. My hope is that once he grasps the concept of why  I am asking for his feet to move like that, he will do better.  I know that is a pretty far reach, but it can't hurt to try.  

When I mentioned all of this in front of Simon, he said that it is something he would like to try.  I am super excited about that.  TC said that he might even want to give it a shot.  Finally something we can all do together that involves horses!

Okay...NOW I am done with this post.  I hit publish and update 3 different times while trying to type it out, so it has been sitting out there all morning half finished!  Sorry for those of you who only got the first half.


  1. I have a hard enough time with saddle fit when I'm there in person. :) Did you try any on without a pad? I always try to get a good fit without the pad, then check it with the pad. Looks like you have a lot of good options to try out.

    1. I didn't try them without the pad. I thought about that, but since I know I am always going to ride with a pad, I end up trying them on with the pad, so I can get the full picture. However all this saddle fitting has shown me that I seriously need to invest in some new pads!

  2. saddle fitting is sure a challenge! they have these great little thin pads, here just a sheet really and they show the sweat marks, or the other suggestion I heard was powder to show where the saddle sits and makes contact

  3. First off, yes that is a cutting saddle, which are also sometimes promoted as team penning saddles as well. If you can restore it, it looks like a pretty good deal. Is there any brand markings on it? If it needs any major work, there's a neighbor on my side of the road that does excellent work at very reasonable prices.

    I like the cutting saddle and the CS saddle, but then I'm a fan of the full double rigging vs the plates inlayed in the skirts whether front or rear cinches. It's just a personal preference but as I see it, I would rather have the rings not riveted to the skirts (possibly weakening the leather) where they could pull out which would likely happen at the worst time possible. Are you a circle Y fan or something? Because I just couldn't seem to tell... Lol

    I like some of the older brands. The saddles are still around because they knew how to make them back then and it seemed like people appreciated quality so they took care of their tack. My old Simco has seen better days, but it is still in good shape considering and I count myself lucky as 3 of my 4 saddles fit both of the mares. I'm not sure if the Simco would fit my WB, but it fits the TB and my 'no namer' fits them both so I won't complain.

    1. Yes I am a pretty big Circle Y fan, however I have learned that all Circle Y's are not created equal by any means. I think I do prefer the older ones to the newer. They just seem to be made better. Even the difference between the 1999 and the 2000 is like night and day. It could just be that some are made better than others even now.

      I do agree with you on those riggings. In fact that is one of the things that drew me to that CS in the first place. I mean that sucker is built to last for sure. I just had a gal offer to trade me a brand new California Saddlery saddle for it. While I am certainly willing to sell it, to trade for a cheaply made saddle?????? Not gonna happen!