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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Saddles For Colonial Spanish Horses



Two points here--first--saddle fit. I am often asked which saddles I recommend for Colonial Spanish horses. People are hoping that I can recommend a brand name that will solve all of their saddle problems. They generally are not pleased with my answer.

The first question is "What is your saddle problem?"--do you even have a saddle problem? Many new owners of these horses already start out feeling nervous and guilty. All of their experienced horse friends have told them that their new horse is only a pony any way and that it is cruel to ride such a small creature. To compensate they seek out the magical saddle that perfectly fits their horse. Couple that pressure with well researched marketing techniques that appeal to the subliminal guilt that so many people feel over the act of riding (dominating) a horse and a market of hand wringing serial saddle buyers is created.

Nothing special about this--we live in a world of $300.00 little league baseball bats made for parents who "really care about their child's success on the field."

The reality is that most of our horses have not fallen prey to the modern breeding and horse care practices that produce flat backed, obese horses with spinal gutters. That means that we need narrower saddles.

Often one finds the best saddle for our horses to be those made fifty to one hundred years ago. At that time there was a clear difference between what a horse and a beach ball were supposed to look like. Well made narrow saddles were easy to find back then. The best fitting saddle that I have for one of my Corolla stallions, Tradewind, is over one hundred years old.

Ironically these ancient treasures can often be found at yard sale prices. It takes a good eye to note the difference between dry, cracked leather that can be restored and deteriorated leather that must be replaced.

Take a look at these two saddles shown above. Ha! fooled you-there is only one saddle there. Jackie put several hours of work into restoring the leather to create this highly functional work of art.

The end result--a restored saddle that fits many of our horses very well.

Second  point--and I am not as sure of this one yet--but it seems that practicing natural horsemanship has a completely unexpected side effect, at least with adults. I am seeing it too often for it to be a coincidence.

Building relationships with horses seems to unleash creative energies in adults. I have seen it in too many different forms to dismiss the connection--hide tanning, painting, music, construction of musical instruments, tack design and creation, writing, song writing and tool making are some of the forms that this creative energy has taken among my adult riders.

I shall leave an explanation of this transformational  aspect of practicing natural horsemanship to others

1 comment:

Caroline Knight said...

I got my first Marsh Tacky back in 1977 and was lucky enough to get a youth sized Big Horn saddle with him. I spent the next 22 years with that little gelding and couldn't tell you the number of hours spent in that saddle. Even though I had to say goodbye to the best friend I ever had, I still have that saddle. It's had a few repairs, and my niece rides in that saddle when she visits. I now have another Marsh Tacky and 2 more Big Horn saddles. I'll take an older Big Horn over any other saddle I've ever ridden in.