Friday, January 15, 2010

The Queen of Denial Comes Clean

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.

But I like it, and Martha approves.

I like the barbed wire tooling.


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.


Unknown said...

I hear you - so often the perfect saddle is anything but perfect. Good for you making the switch!

Desert Rose said...

Been there myself a few times...although you really said it perfectly! I just love my Martin Barrel...I can ride for 10 hours a day in it and not feel any different than a 3 hour ride! Happy trails to you and Jazz with it!

Laura said...

Been there with an expensive english saddle...Felt much better when I traded it in.

Glad your local shop was able to help. I hope it fits the boyz!

Jeni said...

One of the things people often over look is how the saddle fits THEM. Sure we go to great pains to make sure the saddle fits the horse... but us?

I'm glad you found the perfect one for you AND of the horsies. Makes a good ride great in my opinion.

Have a great weekend!

jane augenstein said...

I went through 5 saddles before I finally found the ones that fit Gilly's short back. I now have a round skirted, synthetic western and a leather dressage saddle that fit good. I also use a Parelli air saddle pad that helps a lot. Gilly has BIG shoulders, high withers so he is a hard on to fit. I never thought I would be saying this, always being a western gal, but I like the feel of the dressage saddle the best! Who would have thought??? LOL

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Yeah, my Tucker High Plains Trail saddle turned out to be a bit of a disappointment over time too. It's so heavy that when I'm under the weather I will chose just about any other saddle to use in order to avoid straining myself. It also doesn't feel great on the crotch and is too bulky to move around in. But that's a trail saddle for you. If I want to do equitation that involves a lot of posting, I always use the Circle Y Mojave. I can do acrobatics in that thing, but when I'm in the Tucker I just sit and keep my horse at a walk. I hope this new saddle does the trick for you.

AareneX said...

Ahhh, the great saddle hunt. Sometimes I believe that the perfect saddle must be made of snipeskin, it's just that hard to find.

However, I found mine at last: a Specialized. I absolutely love the thing. Love it so much that now we own two of them--one for each horse (and each rider!)

And yes, re: husbands. I have been there, done that. Denial, oh yeah.

Leah Fry said...

Here I thought it was just my ineptitude that I bought one that didn't work. It's more common than I thought. I feel better now :-)

Nuz, I'm amazed at how light the new one is compared to the Tucker. You nailed it: every time I picked up speed in the Tucker, I just felt like I was all over the place. I, too, kept it at a walk most of the time.

The sun is peeking out, the saddle and everything else I need is loaded in the truck so we can see how Jaz likes it. Cross your fingers for us.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Hope your new saddle works out. I used to joke I was going to have to find a horse to fit my favorite saddle...never did work that way. I have 5 saddles because each horse needed a different fit.
What happened to the days of one size fits all? Of course that was only good if you weren't too concerned about your horse's comfort

AareneX said...

Actually, the reason I bought the Specialized is that the entire "horse side" of the saddle can be changed using sets of neoprene shims. (See the website for details, he's got videos :

If I had just one saddle and two horses, I could set up two sets of shims and just stick the appropriate set on the saddle before putting the saddle on the horse.

It's a neat system...but I wouldn't have gotten the saddle if I wasn't happy with the way it fits me . I have ridden hundreds of miles in an uncomfortable saddle--and won't ever do that again!

Dusty Devoe said...

Great post! I bought a beautiful Circle Y trail saddle when I got Dusty. Fit him perfect. But finally figured out it didn't fit me. I have a new Billy Cook Barrel coming next week. I am so excited to get it and see how it's going to work.

Dusty Devoe said...

I fotgot to say, the new saddle is beautiful!

cdncowgirl said...

Ah we've all been there!

Congratss on the new saddle, hope its a good fit for you and Jaz :)
(and its pretty nice looking!)

Also its amazing how much more confident you can feel in a saddle that YOU feel/fit better.

Leah Fry said...

Aarene, I just checked out that URL. All I can say is WOW, lucky you! That really is the perfect solution to making one saddle work for multiple horses.

The seat on my new saddle is 15 1/2.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Before you mentioned the saddle issue, I was nodding my head. I've been dealing with denial for over 2years. It hurts to admit you've made a mistake. Especially an expensive mistake. And especially on something you know just wasn't ever a good fit. You try to make it work and do everything everyone tells you to try to make it work, but nothing works, because it just wasn't a good fit....and never will be. As sad as that is.

I'm glad you've got your saddle issues solved. I hope the new saddle is a good fit for everyone involved.


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