Have you ever bought something that seemed to be exactly what you wanted, only to realize (or admit) much later — way too late to return it — it wasn't working at all?
You stumble on an incredible deal on a big-ticket item you've wanted — nay, needed — for a long time. You jump on it, thrilled beyond measure. At last, it's yours!
But from the first time you use it, it's not quite right. Now, you just spent a hefty chunk of change, so you think, 'It must be me. It will be okay. I just need time to get used to it.' It should be said here that there is nothing wrong with the thing itself. In fact, there is absolutely no reason it should not be perfect. But time passes, and it's not, although you can't put your finger on why. You try all sorts of ways to make it work, but just when you think you have the answer, you don't. Again. Eventually, you start finding excuses not to use it. Every time you think about it, it makes you feel a little sick, so you try not to think about it.
Until one day, you're talking to a friend who is raving about her thing. As she goes on and on about how great her thing is, your mind checks out of the conversation, and for the first time you affirm THE TRUTH in your heretofore in-denial brain: your thing is not cuttin' it, and won't no matter what you do.
That, friends, is the story of my year-long experience with my gorgeous, well-made Tucker 260 High Plains trail saddle.
It's also the story of a truck I once owned, and an ex-husband, but, I digress.
I bought the saddle specifically for Poco, knowing full well it was much too big for Jaz. At that time, my pie-in-the-sky plan was that Poco would be my primary ride. My denial about him is a whole 'nother story. (Maybe someday, maybe not.) Anyway, Pokey hated that saddle from Day One. Yeah yeah, this many fingers space here, a hands breadth there — it fit by the numbers. Tell him that. I bought a new pad and a shim, but in the end, none of that mattered. It should have been his second skin, but it wasn't.
As if that wasn't bad enough, I didn't like it either. It never felt ... well, right. I tried, I really did. It took a conversation with my new friend, Kristen, for the clouds to part, the angels to sing, and for me to allow myself to admit that this was never going to be okay. I weighed my options and formulated a plan.
I can count on both hands the number of times that saddle has been used. It has been conditioned faithfully (the fenders and stirrups were supple and perfectly formed), and kept covered in the house. We're talking pristine condition for a saddle I've owned a year. I threw the saddle, the matching breast collar and canteen into the truck and headed to Paul Taylor.
To make a long story not quite so long, I traded my saddle. Sarah (PT employee extraordinaire who knows freakin' everything) pulled saddles for me and took the time to help me find one that cradles my body in a way I didn't know was lacking. Thank God I'm teachable. I checked out trail saddles, reiners, ropers, and barrel saddles — you name it. Although I sat in a couple of Billy Cooks, the one I liked best is Paul Taylor's store brand, made by a local saddle maker. It has a smaller seat, but a deeper pocket than the Tucker. I was so happy with how it felt, I didn't really give a thought to how it looked.
I'm very anxious to try it on the horses this weekend. Honestly, I'm more concerned about how it fits Jaz than Poco, since I plan on spending much more time riding Jaz this year.
If Poco doesn't like it, FINE, he can wear the cheezy one that came with him.