Several months went by and she messaged me again, saying she was still bringing the saddles just as soon as she could get around to it. I did not hold my breath,, but said "Sure, anytime."
A few more months went by and she messaged me again and said that she really needed to come by now, as she was selling all of her horses and really needed the saddles gone.
"Okay, bring them by, I will have a look."
As it turns out she is from Wyoming, and only lives about 10 minutes from my house, here in AZ. She is from the same area where TC grew up, however, he says he doesn't recognize her name. (which is highly unusual- he pretty much knows everyone up there)
Anyway, long story longer....she finally brought me the saddles. The first one was a well used Texas Saddlery Ranch style high backed roper. Pretty beat up but I made and offer and she was more than happy with it. So that was a done deal. I knew that with some cleaning and some conditioning it would sell quickly. (it took about a week)
The second saddle she brought me came with a story. It belonged to her Sister In Law who had passed away from cancer a few years ago. She said her sister was a reined cow horse trainer up in WY, and competed on a high level....and won often.
She said that she had been told by a saddle repair guy that the tree was broken on this saddle, however, he never said where, and she could not find where it was broken. She asked me to look at it, I could not find where it was broken either. She also said that the guy had been begging to buy it from her and she said no, and it was after that, when he told "its a piece of junk anyway, tree is broke." So she had always questioned his motivation.
It was a Crates Cutter, and boy was it in rough shape. Not abused as in never cared for, but simply rode in...ALOT!
Crates are good saddles, and I was interested, but I needed a second opinion on the tree so I asked her to leave it with me while I took it to my saddle repair guy. He poked and prodded, and twisted and bent and tried desperately to find any signs of give or play which would indicate a break. There were none.
However it needed new fenders, and rigging leathers so I left it with him to have the repairs done. I called the gal, we agreed on a very fair price and the deal was done. Then I asked her again what her sister in laws name was.
She was Cathy Errington Coleman
As it turns out Cathy was somewhat of a celebrity in the reined cow horse world. There is a wonderful article in the Quarter horse news about her, which you can read RIGHT HERE. I was so moved by her story, and deeply saddened that I was never able to meet her. I asked her why she would sell this saddle, but she explained that she has one of Cathy's trophy saddles, which is still brand new, and she preferred that one over the one she sold me. To me it is kind of backwards to sell the one she rode in, and keep the one she won, but to each their own I guess.
As I go through the task of buying and selling saddles, I sit in almost every saddle I buy, try to put at least one ride in them, unless of course there is no way I am fitting in the seat, and I always go through each and every one to check for safety. I love to know the history behind the saddles and I always pass that information along with it. So knowing the history behind this one is super cool to me.
However it is not for sale.
In fact I doubt that it will ever be for sale.
I sat in this one on a stand and fell in love with it immediately. You can't fake quality even once time has taken its toll. Once it got the new fenders and other minor repairs needed, I brought it home and cleaned and oiled the hell out of it. I think it still might need a few more layers of oil, but I want to ride in it a little, and then oil some more and see if I can get the shape to come back a little better, the front corners still have a little bit of roll to them. The tree is true and solid, and that is the important part.
I don't love the way it fits Melly, but she is hard to fit. I haven't had a chance to throw it on Trax yet. It is very wide in the gullet, and Melly is so narrow. Even with the extra thick pad it falls down on her non-existent shoulders. That is a total bummer too, because she is my sorting horse and I was hoping to use it on her. Maybe some shims will help with that. Trax used to be totally mutton withered, but since he was sick (doing much better now- almost done with the meds we think) has lost all of his shoulder too. However, he is back in the riding rotation and usually comes back into shape pretty quickly. So maybe this will be his saddle. (Right now I use my Billy Cook All Around on him. I am pretty sure the tree on the BC is made out of led and I cannot wait to get rid of that saddle! It is very pretty, but dang is it heavy.)
I thought the patch jobs on the front of the jockeys was going to bother my legs, but I rode in it for a few minutes and they didn't bother me at all. I just keep oiling those to make them soft and pliable so they squish down out of the way. I love the stirrup placement on this saddle. I love how they keep me right where I want to be in the seat.
The oxbow stirrups are cool looking, but I am addicted to the angled aluminum ones and have some on the way for this saddle. Of course I will keep the oxbows around, just like I have all the original pieces to the saddle. Just in case I do decide to sell it some day. (not likely)
Anyway, I am excited about this one, excited about the history, excited to have a cutting saddle that fits me, and can't wait to get back to sorting!