Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yard Sale, Texas-Style

At the end of June, I noticed people setting up for a yard sale as I was on my way to Iron Ridge. I normally put my blinders on, since I don't need anything. Oh, but this was a Texas-style yard sale, featuring tack. LOTS of tack. I managed to keep my truck on the road, and when I went back the next day, it wasn't there. Whew! Dodged that bullet.

For awhile, anyway.

The following weekend (Friday of the long July 4th weekend), the sale was back on. In fact, it seemed as if they had even more stuff on display. On my way back from riding, my truck pulled itself into the driveway of its own accord. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

There was a pile of halters and lead ropes a couple feet high. There were two carousels of headstalls and bits, and another of reins. Most of it was really severe stuff, including wire mechanical hackamores, etc. There was a table full of spurs, another filled with stirrups and miscellaneous leather and hardware, and still another with a stack of ropes as high as I am tall. There were at least a dozen saddles. This was not a store going out of business; it was a collection of roping tack in various stages of used.

Most of the saddles were big, as in large-man big. One was teeny-tiny, with the name "Christine" cloyingly engraved on the cantle plate. Then my eye beheld one that not only looked as if it would fit me, it spoke to me.  It was a beautiful, vintage (1970s-1980s) hand-tooled roping show saddle. The old cowpoke in charge measured it at ±15". It was on a wooden stand, and I climbed on.  It's as if it had been custom-made for my bum.
 I can find no maker's mark.
The keepers, hobble straps, stirrups, and front billets were replaced.
The rear billets may be original.
The cowpoke gave me the stand.
The cantle plate is solid brass, not brass plated.
I thought the conchos might be silver,
but the more I look at them, I think they're nickel or something else.
Hard to tell, since someone scrubbed the daylights
out of them, possibly with a wire brush.
 This is old-school hand tooling.

This is the color of the hydrated leather.
This photo was taken the day I brought it home,
so it's looking (and feeling)
a lot better than it did that day.
 The flocking has been replaced.
There are two small spots on the scalloped edge of the pommel
where friction from a rope wore through the leather.
It's cosmetic, not structural, and is charming, I think.
Although there are tiny, superficial cosmetic cracks,
mostly around the edges, I don't think anything except
the Blevins sliders needs to be replaced.
The rear girth (above), however, has deep, structural cracks on the underside. But look at the tooling — you don't see tooled rear girths like that anymore. I haven't ever used one, but I'll treat it anyway. One could have another girth made using the tooled pieces, which are the keepers.

Thank goodness dear Mr. Fry is such a western enthusiast. He looked askance at me for a moment when he saw my purchase, but was soon admiring the craftsmanship and my good fortune for having spotted it. He did question my need for it, but — bless him — he did not rain on my parade.

I took it apart and applied almost an entire liter of Lexol Conditioner/Preservative to the saddle and girth. The leather sucked up every bit of it. I have since added a liter of Farnham Restorer & Conditioner, which it also absorbed. I've finally gotten it to where I have the stirrup leathers cranked around with a dowel, and I continue to treat it periodically.

I'll try this saddle on Jaz, but I don't think it will fit, at least not without a riser pad. This will be Daltrey's saddle. It's heavier than my barrel saddle, so I have started some upper body conditioning so I will be able to lift it over my head.

I wonder about the person or persons who owned the saddle, the horses that wore it, the places to which they may have traveled, and what they may have done together. I sense an aura of warmth, confidence, and excellent karma. I think it's a good omen and talisman for D and me.


Jeni said...

Great find!!! You don't see those any more in usable condition that's for sure.

I'm forbidden to go to "barn sales" LOL Last time I drug Mr. Q to one I tried to buy a Doctors Buggy for Rosie to pull. Grand dreams of her decked out in red, white and blue roses walking a parade route. Mr. Q rained on my parade by reminding I don't know how to drive (a horse) !

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

It looks like a Billy Cook. The tooling (Sheridan Rose Pattern) is classic early BC. Those older saddles are heavy as heck (as you know), but boy were they made well. Nice find.

Dreaming said...

What a find! The workmanship is beyond belief!
Have fun!

Captain Bailey said...

Very cool! I love the tooling as well.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Purty! I'm sure you already checked the structure of the tree to make sure it's sound. Sounds like you've went over it with a fine toothed comb. Now hopefully Daltrey will be able to wear that and not grow too wide. I'm not much into all that fancy tooling..preferring simple designs, like barb wire, but that sure is pretty.
The weight of it would scare me off, though. I still have limited motion in my neck vertebra from ruptured disc surgery 17 years ago and just can't lift a heavy saddle. My Abetta only weighs 15 lbs and I know my horse thanks me for that, too. lol!

Congrats on the great find. Enjoy :)

AareneX said...

What a pretty saddle! I am highly immune to tack sales these days, because I have what I need (plus extras of what I have); it's just crazy for me to consider buying stuff. The exception is biothane...that stuff is AWESOME for Swampdwellers! It never rots!

We use Lexol on our leather when it's new, and then we switch to Obenauf's, which protects from repeated saturations. Saddles get treated two or three times each year; boots get treated at least once each month in fall/winter/spring.

Mikey said...

Total score!! I LOVE that saddle. Fabulous tooling on it. You really did good. If I'd seen that sale, I'm sure my truck would have done the same thing, just veered right in :)
Super sweet :)

Pinzgauer said...

All I have to say, is that I'm glad I'm not gonna be the one lifting that onto that monster's back!

Kinda funny that BrownEyed Cowgirl said that it looks like a Billy Cook. My goat roping queen saddle that you love so much is a Billy Cook (but newer and lighter!). LOVE the feel of it, hate to lift it.

C-ingspots said...

Wow, it looks like a Hereford Brand to me...very similar to my saddle. Did you check on the very bottom of the fender leathers where they might curve under to accomodate the stirrups? Major score!! I love old much more comfy.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Trucks have a mind of their own sometimes. Beautiful saddle. That is an interesting thought - to wonder what horses and riders have touched that saddle and where have they gone with it.

Unknown said...

What I love about good saddles is how wonderfully long their lives can be. A lovely saddle to add your own adventures to...

Leah Fry said...

It's heavy, alright. I'm not kidding -- I'm lifting weights so I'll be able to heave it around. I start with 2 15# weights, bend down, pick them up, and out in front of me. I can only do about 5 reps. Then I switch down to 8#, then 5# and up the reps. I'll have nice buff upper arms by the time I'm strong enough :-)

The cowpoke offered to take it to my truck. I said no, that if I couldn't lift my tack then I don't deserve to have it. He just grinned, and said he liked me. That said, I about died when I picked that thing up. Good thing Daltrey is such a big strapping boy!

cdncowgirl said...

Love love LOVE that saddle! Saw your mention on FB about it and was waiting for more details :)
I'm thinking along the same lines as BEC & Cing; to me it looks like it could be a Billy Cook or a Hereford/Tex Tan. Of course I am FAR from well versed in the subject of older saddles and makers.
Whatever the make, I'm guessing it was a higher quality brand to have stood up to time so well without a lot of care.

"The cowpoke offered to take it to my truck. I said no, that if I couldn't lift my tack then I don't deserve to have it. He just grinned, and said he liked me."
Hells yeah girl!!

cdncowgirl said...

ps Nice new header :)

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