Sunday, December 7, 2008

Serendipitous Shopping

My saddle was included in Poco's purchase price. It was maybe a $300-$400 saddle, certainly no more. It is tooled leather and doesn't look bad, but it has never been what anyone might call comfortable. It has a very thin layer of that fake fleece padding. I compensated by buying a high-end, thick wool pad to make it better on the Boyz' backs and my butt. I also added a sheepskin padded seat because there is no padding whatsoever under the suede seat. It has taken me two years to get the leather supple enough so the fenders and stirrup leathers don't torque my knees to hell, making my toes point out. I could go on, but suffice it to say, I've done everything I possibly could to make the best of what I had until such time as I could afford better.

In all the times I've "test-driven" saddles, I've never actually chosen one, i.e., "If I had the money today, I'd buy x." I've been stopping at Sergeant's every day since last Saturday (when the closing sale started) and finally identified what I wanted. My intention had been to choose several, then wait for a deeper discount, and take whichever one was left — if I did, in fact, decide to buy at all, and I truly was leaning toward not at this time.

Mr. Fry and I went to breakfast late Saturday morning in Aubrey, TX, and I talked him into stopping at Sergeant's to check out the state of the discounts. He never ceases to amaze and delight me. He asked me which saddle I liked and what made this one better than the rest and the one I have. I showed him the cheap ones, comparable to my current saddle. I explained the features I liked about the good one, flipped both over for comparison, showed him the construction. You get what you pay for: that is language Mr. Fry understands. It also didn't hurt that the young girl (cute as a bug) who helped us asked Mike if he rode. He said he didn't, to which she replied, "If you did, you'd know how miserable it is to ride in a saddle that's not comfortable."

Everything except the saddles was marked down an additional 5%-10%. The selection of saddles had dwindled, but there were still perhaps 30 good ones left, in addition to about 25 synthetics and cheap leather ones. Mike, the consummate wheeler-dealer, spoke to the folks behind the counter who told him this had been one of the highest grossing of the corporate-owned stores, so the employees had no power to bargain. They said that although everything else would continue to be marked down until it was gone, the saddles would probably not go down much more. They also said there were several dealers who were interested in buying the entire lot if they got marked any lower than the current 20%. There were only two left in the style I wanted.

My dear husband said he thought it was a good idea to get it! I will be the one to pay for it, but having his blessing, though never necessary, is always desirable. I am paying it out on a low-interest line of credit, not a credit card.

This is a Tucker 260 High Plains Trail Saddle with a smooth, light oil finish. I don't know why, but I didn't want tooling. Remarkably lightweight — only 25 lbs. The under padding is 1/2" thick, compressed wool, rather than the fleecy stuff. It has a gel seat (eyes rolling back in head). You'd think that with an ass as broad and well-padded as mine, this would be a non-issue, but you'd be wrong. My middle-aged joints, especially my back, do not appreciate the jarring, especially when I'm trying to sit a trot, which I have yet to master. Even new, the fenders are pliable, and wrap around my leg the way they should. As I do with my other saddle, I'll store it with a dowel woven through the stirrups to encourage that nice, soft wrap around my calf.

I will keep my old saddle for those occasions when someone visits and we want to take both horses out. I also hold out hope that one day Mike will trust Jaz enough to climb aboard. The old saddle fits Jaz better; the new one will be too big. Nita always brings her own English tack when she comes to ride Jaz.

It occurred to me there might be another reason altogether Mike gave his blessing to get the saddle. There is a funky side to my nature that my husband finds intriguing, amusing, or maddening, depending on the manifestation. I saw this pair of Ariat Fatbaby (ProBaby) boots and fell in love with them. I have very wide feet and these boots are super comfortable, like my Doc Marten's, the best shoes ever. Mike hates my Docs and when I showed him these, he rolled his eyes, shook his head and groaned, kind of like Lurch on the old Addam's Family TV show. It sounded like the human equivalent of a very low, drawn out nicker. I think he blessed the saddle just so I wouldn't bring these boots home.

But wait, that's not the end of the story!

This morning
, I tried the saddle on Poco and did about 10 minutes in the round pen. I'm no expert, but the seat felt too big, and it didn't sit right on Poco's broad back. It felt fine in the store on the stand (of course it did), but riding, I felt like a little kid in a grownup's chair. No, my ass didn't shrink overnight (dang it). Sergeant's agreed to do a straight exchange. I left the saddle at the counter and went to find the right size, but they had sold the only one remaining in the light oil finish. All that was left was the dark. No prob. My NEW new saddle is the same as my OLD new saddle except this one has a 16 1/2" seat and a wide tree — what a lucky find there. And the finish, of course. [Edited: My saddle also has the full skirt, unlike both pictured.]

Then, the woman behind the counter tells me I have the wrong tags, shows me the SKU on the sales slip, and the two don't match. They had charged me for a tooled leather saddle. They can't do any cash adjustments or charge back my debit card because technically, all sales are final. What? I have to shop some more to eat up the discrepancy? Say it ain't so!

Needless to say, the fugly pink boots are in my closet, making nice-nice with my Docs.

AND I had enough to get this beautiful headstall that matches the new darker finish saddle. I now have two very stylin' ponies.

I came within 8¢ of the original invoice. I choose to think this was the hand of God making things right.

Mike, honey, we could have saved a lot of money if you'd have just blessed the boots in the first place.


RoSe said...

GiddiYUP and Merry Christmas!!!!
What a great story.

cdncowgirl said...

Congrats on the new saddle! I've heard Tucker's are super comfy so you'll have to fill us in after you've put some miles on it :)

Not to be a downer but just a word of warning... check your Ariat's. Are the Fatbabys or Probabys?
If they ar Fats they aren't safe for riding as the sole makes it easier to get hung up in the stirrups if you were to fall.
I have a few pairs of Probabys and they seem to fit the same as the FBs (I have wide feeties too) but the sole is slightly different so they are safer.

Leah Fry said...

Hi Lisa,

Glad you asked — and glad I saved the tags — because they are ProBaby. I had not planned on riding in them just because of the width, let alone the soles, but you're right: the tags on these do say they are made for riding. I don't know though, I'm still afraid the width will get hung up. I may try it in the round pen. I ride in my regular Justin cowboy boots. They are finally broken in and accommodate my feet, which are almost as wide as they are long.

Thanks for looking out for me.

ezra_pandora said...

Ahh!! You lucky bum. I too have heard that Tuckers are excellent and you should be able to ride in it all day. I have a pair of those Fat Baby type boots that have the tooling look on the boot part, but I've never felt comfortable using them to ride so I don't.

How awesome for you that they made a mistake. I'm sure you would have liked to have saved that extra money, but since it was beyond your control, yay!! Very neat bridle as well. I'm not one for much tooling on my saddles either.

sidetracked said...

Wow that is so exciting! I absolutely love getting new horse stuff, especially something as big as a saddle. I have tried explaining what a saddle is to non horse people. Having a sadle is like having a good car. It's your best friend,you fit together and it can sometimes make or break a good ride. Even though I'm not a big western person, the saddle looks really good and the gel seat sounds heavenly

Unknown said...

I didn't know Sergeant's was closing - how lucky for you to be near a store to capitalize on the savings. Are they closing just the store or both the retail store and online catalog?

Too bad they were my most favorite place to visit while shopping at the World Show.

Jamie said...

Congrats to you. I have been riding in a Tucker for about 2 years now and it is my favorite. I have the Endurance Trail Saddle (no horn) and I love it.
My hubs rides in a Tucker also and he loves it too.
You will love this saddle !!
Congrats on that and the boots !!


Leah Fry said...

Yeah, I'm feeling pretty darn lucky.

Steph, I don't know about the online catalogue. I just had heard that the whole corporation filed for bankruptcy in early November, then the next thing I knew, I stumbled on the sale. If you look at my earlier post titled "Sign of the Times," there is a link to the article that may tell you what you want to know.

Jamie, I looked at the Endurance Trail, and as far as I could tell, the absence of the horn was the only difference. They seemed pretty similar. Guess I just like the traditional look.

Ez, as far as tooling goes, I like it well enough. In this case, the tooling was kind of non decript and just didn't do as much for me as the nice clean lines.

Thanks for all the good wishes. I don't think it has sunk in yet that I have this beautiful thing. Wish I didn't have to wait until the weekend to try it out and hope the weather cooperates. Oh well, if I can't ride, it's a good opportunity to start conditioning the daylights out of it. I can be relentless when it comes to making those stirrup leathers cooperate. THAT'S the downside of a new saddle as opposed to a used one.

cowgirljlynn said...

It always fun to shop for our babies! I got King more stuff in Las Vegas than
for myself!!

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