I would say one of the most terrifying, yet simultaneously fun aspects of purchasing a horse is shopping for all the accessories that go with buying the horse. One thing I never realized, was just how much emphasis riders place on the overall look of their tack. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about quality. I am a firm subscriber to, “you get what you pay for.”
I am referring to the overall look that riders strive for. Shortly after bringing Jean-Luc home, people started to ask me a question I found strange.
“What’s your horse’s color?”
“Ah, he’s a palomino paint?” I cautiously would respond. Clearly, I mean those asking the question had eyes.
However, like usual, I was the one confused. What they really wanted to know, is what color scheme would I be using for my tack? Clearly. Since Jean-Luc is white and gold, our options were numerous.
Choosing his particular color scheme is a story for another day, but it suffices to say that we went with burgundy (wine color!)
Now, together Jean-Luc and I have several fun new tack items, but I’ve been purposefully slow to pick up one crucial item – the saddle.
Saddle shopping is intense! This singular item could very easily surpass the price a person pays for the horse. Taking the purchase seriously is a must, because the saddle will largely contribute to the success of the horse and ride as a team. So, where does one even begin?
I started by asking myself what type of riding I primarily wanted to do with Jean-Luc. The answer – trails. Long, obstacle filled, slow going, trails.
Because most of my riding will be on trails I began to look at endurance, western style saddles. I went back and forth with this though as I am currently rolling around in a pretty large 40-pound western saddle that belongs to BM’s man. It’s a beast to haul around, but it reminds me of a Cadillac – too big, too heavy, protective, and something you can roll in for days. It’s basically everything I’m looking for, minus the too heavy part.
From there I asked myself if I wanted leather, or synthetic. Synthetic is often easier to keep, clean and cheaper, but I do love the smell of a good leather saddle. In the end, I find the comfort in a leather saddle a little higher as well. So, leather then.
All these answers pointed me towards a saddle introduced to America the early seventies and made popular thanks to, The Man from Snowy River. Honestly though, people have used this style of saddle for generations all over the world.
Traditionally, Australian stock saddles were created to hold a rider in securely and comfortably through some of the most intense terrain on the planet. The earliest versions borrowed heavily from traditional English saddles as the premise for their design. Since everything is out to kill you down under, they added a much deeper seat, higher cantle, and front knee pads to really suck a person in when their equine counterpart comes into contact with one of many outback terrors.
By adding these design features, the Australian saddle also became one of the most comfortable to spend days, upon days in. So, light weight – check. Conformable – check. Sticky, and holds me in when Jean-Luc doesn’t agree with what’s on the ground – Check. Check, check and check!
Everything seemed to fall into place. I knew what type of saddle I wanted, but now what brand? This decision came after reading as many reviews as I could find, and settled on the best reviewed saddle brand I could comfortably afford without making my you know what pucker.
Finally, there was really only one conundrum:
Horn, or no horn - that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer being skewered
Like a pig on a modern western horn
for the fortune of looks and copious amounts of bags hanging
Or to take arms against the horn,
And by opposing modernity end a fine riding utensil without such ornament?
Seriously, being on the trail all the time might mean wanting the option to ride with a saddle horn bag, so that makes sense. Plus they're often more affordable than many English front bags. The Australian horns aren’t made for roping, but neither were Jean-Luc and me. Truthfully, we’re about as coordinated as a synchronized swim team made entirely of kittens. Horns are great, right? They look cool, they can serve a purpose, and they can stab your sides out if you ever end up in the wrong place at the wrong time!
The man from Snowy River didn’t need a horn. He tamed the wilds with no such thing.
Oh, the options? Whatever shall we choose?
Suggestions, comments, and rants are welcome, but I must confess, whatever I ordered is on its way! Stay tuned and see what Jean-LucPonycard and I #boldlygo forth in.
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.