Hope for the Future

Why own a saddle customized for me?

The largest problem I see when helping horse owners, or owners to be, with buying a used saddle? People get caught up in the “deal” with little regard to their true needs. Often, if the saddle seems to fit the horse, it's priced somewhat right, and especially if used and “Good shape”, or “fixable” shape, there is this “gotta have a deal” mentality which will tend to push your purchase into a big WRONG!  

 We all spend very much time at work, or with other very necessary distractions, don't we! So we think about our horse, our last ride, our next ride, our best ride, until we are really ready to go hit the trails, or the arena. We want our chance to even better our best experience! - This day might be “the” day.

       “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” - Sir Winston Churchill.     

Our imaginations are full of combining our balance with the strength of our steed. We yearn for massive meaning through such discovery as can be accomplished with an animal this large.

Some of us feel united with movies, or heroes, or warriors, of the past.  Some of us like the wind through our hair, the gentle bounce of a canter, the strength we feel in an extended trot, or jump over a fence, or refining our dressage or reining movement. Some of us see ourselves wade though creeks. Some of us jump & splash through creeks. Some of us love to show off the ribbon or trophy that holds all the effort, time, and focus to earn it. Some of us just need a time of quiet, to hear the stillness, with reflections, honor & grace. Some of us need to tend herds, inspect fencing, check trees, or smell the fresh earth, taste the terrain as we plan for the next seasons.

Time with your horse definitely invites romance, has led to extended families and children, has led to better business decisions, has led to sanity in an insane world! It invites a time of gratitude; a time of bringing back to mind the best of the best things that happened during the past year(s). Riding encourages a person to realize that all the stresses of life are there so you can have these few moments of “Real Life” between God &Nature.

For some, it is the ultimate in competition among peers; for some, riding maintains a learning experience that holds instant reward because we know we are really, gradually, improving our whole Self. We escape, not comparing our abilities to impossibilities we face in other facets of life. For most of us, it is simply a comparison of, a knowledge of, a presence of:  We hold a place in this life, this world, our lives, which offers meaning, entreats growth, & affords opportunities that without team of horse & rider, could never be understood, except through this experience. 

So, if any of this reasoning identifies why you have a horse, Why would you settle for anything less than the best contact between you and your horse?   I understand temporary. However, you could walk everywhere you go. You could ride a moped. At times you do. But you usually chose the protection, the speed, the safety, the security of a truck? Yes. I own a bicycle and love that experience too. But I need better means to be able to accomplish all I need to accomplish.  And if you did not identify with any of the feelings of power, and authority, and awe, and belonging, above, maybe it's time you did!

Don't you deserve better?  It's not just the used saddles. I have from 130 to 150 new saddles most days, in stock, ready to try on.  I say try on, because today, you don't settle for what I or any other dealer has in stock. The saddles are here to discover your best choice. (And sometimes, one of them works really well for you!) I remember being 17, starting Cultured Cowboy as Walking T Stables & Tack, with 3 Simco saddles. 1 barrel 1 pleasure 1 roper. I rode English, but my major market did not. (I had another half doz saddles in the barn to try on too. – They weren’t for sale.) In those days, all we knew was either round skirt, or full skirt, seat size, (usually too big), and lots of pads to make stuff work.

Today we have more pad selection than ever. That's good! Most of the padding we used in the 70's is (thank goodness) long gone. Much has improved over the years. Gels, foams, fleece, covers, even wear leather positioning, the way we join sides to make better air channels & wither relief, and pockets on pads are so much better, today. We understand everything from chiropractic to bridging much better. WE know there are specialized saddles today for every event. The opportunities for fit & function are tremendous now.  So why are over half our riders settling for less?

Perhaps because of the same reasoning of much unhappiness in life, from families splitting to lack of confidence. - Not having the right guidance, the right instruction, going by the “seat of our pants”, or hearing from influential others who know less than they should, to be giving you advice. Sometimes we trust a name brand. But the brands usually make a large selection, while only specializing in a couple things. Brands understand target marketing, and confusion too.  Brands are great! Ya just gotta know how they think!

I began this writing with used saddles. If the saddle is in good shape, will it perform for you as you need, fits both horse & rider as it should? Get it. If not what works, just resell it, right? Well, what about new saddles?  They come with warranty to the original purchaser. Not the second guy, unless the maker is exceptional. (Some Are!)  With new saddles, You have a lot more options available to get exactly what meets your needs, than you might think.  And semi-custom, or customized saddles are really the best bargains for most riders.   Read more to see what to avoid:

Two saddle examples I recently took on trade (and Why they were traded) were: 1st) made in India. (India is best known for water buffalo tack: often belly leather, stretchy, Tarnished “before you get it” silver plate, lots of open pores, not tightly bound, cotton stitching, low wages, accused of child labor whether true or not,  ‘nough said.  Yet, I love “Bobby’s Tack”, best maker of English bridle leather stuff! His quality is unsurpassed, and made in India too. He is one of life’s exceptions. Ya can’t slam a country that is trying hard to change! They are on the “uplift”. Both India & China understand and relish the horsehair & leather potentials!)  (God Bless that we are all understanding economic dependency, and may this begin more unity which leads to a whole world that treats our “neighbor” as our self.)

(OK back to relevancy) Customer bought brand new, as a deal! Rubbed blisters under the rider’s thighs. Manufacturer’s warrantee – You return to the maker for inspection. Cost too much to return (more than paid for the saddle) to the maker out of the USA. (Buyer beware of auction rules.) Buyer Dealer was USA addressed, but was actually the agent for the company in India.  2nd) Supposed to be Cordura nylon combo saddle. It was not Cordura. Looked great when rode the 1st time. But, a few rides later: Edge binding on the skirt tore out. The leather got so stiff… Cultured Cowboy has conditioned it 3X, and it still won’t soften.   OK, 3rdsurprise) another trade–in was supposed to be leather. Hand laced. Buckstitched. Good lookin.  Loosened up as it was ridden. A very thin piece of tooled leather was glued to what is in effect pressed paper, even the skirts. When damp, you can dig it out with your fingernails! What was supposed to happen when it got wet from sweat, or rain, or riding through a creek? Again, buyer beware sales.  Why did I take ‘em on trade? To show people some of what/why not to buy!

The first two: traded for a saddle they really needed. The last one: lost their dream. Got out of the horse “business”.  

So are you worried about price? Saddles depreciate, but not at the thousands of $$$ that your truck will. Or your trailer.  Still you buy a truck. What is the cost of trading saddles till you get the right one? If yer tradin’ horses every week, go ahead, you’ll pair it with an animal, if it halfway fits the rider, yer OK, huh?  If you’re trying to outfit your 1 or 2 personal horses, without some guidance from a riding coach, or a dealer that actually works with horses, and riders, I’ve heard from hundreds of horse people, that they trade a few saddles till something works.

If so, the average expense of getting towards the correct saddle is about $600.00, or a $200.00 drop per, thrown away as “learning” experiences, before you ever buy a saddle that works.  Studies show that the average price of a new saddle sold on the Internet is about $1680.00, US.  Most horse owners have income enough to afford this easily. Cultured Cowboy can fully customize saddles starting at $1900.00 and semi, starting at $1300.00. (Fall 2017 pricing)

We have some production imports that sell pretty low, and can ride pretty high. (Cheaper silver plate parade/show/pleasure saddles sometimes start at $650.00. Finished in USA, mostly built overseas.)  Cordura cross, (worth riding) start at under $600.00. Ave about $750.00. We have a line of JT International saddles, treeless, very adjustable, modeled after a $2800.00 Australian saddle, (but all synthetic) for under $320.00. (This saddle has to be ridden to be believed. Beats a bareback pad all to death!) We have Kathy’s Tack & Sterling P, and Bowman saddles that are available for the more discriminating competitors. All these are custom made for high end clients. As an investment, one of the best!  (When the prize money available is well over the investment required, experienced competitors understand that the 20 – 25% of 1st through 5th place rating is upon the tack & dress presentation …)

The best deals for usin’ saddles – we got ‘em. Figure $1600 to 2800.00.  Trail saddles? BigHorn has Sil-Cush, a dream come true for older riders. And they have variations made for those under 60 too!  Our Dakota 213 can be customized with almost any tree, any seat size, any inseam need, at pricing we are not allowed to advertise.   Hard to fit horses, Call us. Does the rider have a previous injury that is of concern: knees, lower back? Call us. Young rider? Mature rider? 1st time rider?  Professional horseman? Call us.  Reinsman, Tucker, Circle Y?  Garoutte, Dakota, BigHorn, American? Many of these companies are onto 2nd or 3rd generation.  Did they pass forward their legacy?  Some did. Some great makers are so busy that they do not advertise like other major brands. They choose to spend time doing what they love – making quality saddles.

If your legs are short or long, will you buy a truck whose reaching the petals will make driving dangerous?  Then, why not so with your saddle?  GET THOSE STIRRUPS WHERE YOU NEED THEM. Not all saddlers offer this option. Yes, all saddles stirrup leathers have a lot of adjustment. But, do you want a great big glob of bulk under your leg to make the things short enough to touch your toes into the stirrup & not lose them?  NO.  You want proper leg contact with your horse. You need to be able to place the weight of your leg onto the ball of your foot with your heels downward. You need to have this relaxed position to better cue your horse as well as for proper balance. And without a “bulk” under your leg to interfere.

What about seat size? Are you buying a 16 inch seat because it's the most popular? It is, but that does not mean it’s best for you. I had one PRCA professional rider downsize just 1 inch in his seat. His position improved enough to make him a lot of money he would have never made before. I had another rider go up an inch. This allowed better positioning on her horse. It relieved lower back problems for both horse & rider.  For most rides, have 2 fingers between the cantle top & your back. And 2 fingers between front of your thigh and the base of the pommel. (this can change with certain horse sports, “growing kids” and rider agility)

What about cantle height? What if you ever/never had a lower back injury or defect? You have certain foams available, that the US government spent NASA millions to develop. Could the right seating make the difference in how long, or how comfy, or how supportive you ride? What if you like to stand in the stirrups to ease yer body some from all that sitting, or to throw a rope? Would a bicycle seat make all the difference, or is a full seat best for you?

Almost everyone is familiar with gullet width, and some with gullet height. These play tremendous importance in fitting your horse. But did you know that center fire rigging, which actually adjusts from 7/8 to center, can affect more than most standards in many riding endeavors? This allows you to find that “sweet spot”, (forward to back,), where the saddle rests comfortably, with the girth positioned as is needed for rider security. No elbow interference.  Did you know that Semi QH bars are made to fit more on the top of rib cage for speed, and getting out of the way of a barrel horse, while Full QH bars wrap around most horse side a little more for security when turning or roping? They both fit 80% of horses running. It's a lot of other little subtle differences that cull the winners from losers.

I could spend 30 – 60 minutes discoursing the advantages of roughout/ smoothout/ sanded topgrain leathers next to the rider. Or, Real Sheep Vs. Better Synthetic bottoms. (I hate the slick acrylics & will no longer give them as an option, though they may save $50.00 on the price of a saddle.)  Or, fender styles, or short back horses & weight distribution. (Don’t assume the skirting is too long. Skirts flex out of the way. Where does your tree bar hit?)  Or “does a 19 lb saddle” have any advantageous influence on the affect of your horse of 950 lbs. (As a 14 yr old Boy Scout, I carried 45 lbs on my back for 10 mile hikes, without any undue distress. I weighed about 135 lbs.  What was the percentage distribution of even 35 lbs on two 1.5 inch straps over each of my shoulders, pressing into my small clavicles, Vs. 45 lbs of tack plus your weight on a 1000lb equine with bars of 5 inch width & 20 inch length along both sides of the ribcage?)  If the saddle is a properly designed trail saddle, one that weighs 35 lbs will be as easy to lift as a 25 lb saddle which does not allow you to lift as close to your body.  (Call us)

Your boney structure of horse worry should maybe concentrate on the amount of closure of  leg bones, the epiphysis & diaphysis of the leg bones. (  This is indicative of the rest of the horse’s body structure. A 16 hand 2 yr old has no business doing the loads expected from a 14.3 hand 4 year old!  Over 45 years of experience tells me, you either have a great mature horse, or a “wonder” young horse. My bro-in-law is a scout for the Atlanta Braves. He will quickly advise that young pitchers develop skill. Diversity, rather than a 90 mph fast ball is key in a young pitcher. Throwing too fast too early is a path to injury! Ditto, your horses! Wrong tack, as well as starting too early, will emphasize injury in young horses. Got a good horse? Take the time the “HORSE” needs.

TIME BITCHES, CONCERNS:  Regardless, … saddles made just for you, can usually be delivered from 6 to 12 weeks., depending on the tree maker’s availability to the saddler. (yeah, those custom show saddles from our best makers can take up to 6 months or even a year, depending on your requests.) There are limits on the number a person with quality of skills, can deliver. Ya want ‘em delivered right!  If it’s worth having, it’s worth waiting on!  Plan ahead, or borrow till yours comes. When you purchase your horse, you could make this time of tack, a condition of your total purchase.

OK, so I have a lot of saddles ready to go. With makers who have stuff on the floor & my inventory, over 2000 saddles.  I don’t care. I do care that you get what you want so your rides are “dreams come true”; not “masters of disaster”.

If ya want the “BEST” experience with your horse, give this experience all you can! I’m not bashing anybody. I am suggesting that you search for long term satisfaction, rather than spur of the moment gratifications.  How many of you have called, and I advised you think about it a day? Send me pics of the horse? Tell me more about your riding? What are your goals? If your horsey dream came true, what would that be like? I purposely delayed a day or two …Most of you.

I’m not in this business for just the $$$. Or, I’d have “buy” buttons, overnite shipping, cheap crap sold high, and such. Rather, I help people with saddles, boots, chaps, and bits, because of my love for this God-given opportunity for us all to have our “experiences” of our lifetime!  

    God Bless you all.


Do me a favor…  Write questions, comments, concerns, to  Don’t expect an immediate response, just a reasonable response time. I’m 61 & have a family life too. And I like to play with my horses, as do you.  This ain’t a foreign deal. Not an automated click deal. It’s a real deal.

I get somewhat frustrated about people coming to me after they made several mistakes. Though I’m more than happy to help, their frustrations could have been avoided.  Please copy/paste to your buds, so we can, together, best help everyone own their best choice!



 OK, it's TDay - here's an article I found helpful  (from my other career}

Gottman Thanksgiving Rituals of Connection

Rituals are defined as meaningful activities that families create to bring connection and stability to the family dynamic. Rituals hold relationships and family life together and create cohesiveness within family identity.

If you want to plan your Thanksgiving meal in a specific way, we recommend going over this list a day or two ahead of time with your partner so that you can approach your Thanksgiving with some rituals of connection already in mind. Here are some ideas to help you plan.

·Take a walk with your family before dinner, or between dinner and dessert.

·When sharing what you are grateful for, specifically mention what has gone well for you or your family in the last year.

·When you express gratitude around the table, try to think of two or three specific things you are thankful for.

·Encourage relatives and friends who will attend your Thanksgiving meal to write down a short list of things they’re grateful for before coming to dinner. That will give them a chance to think privately, on their own time, about how they want to express gratitude. You could even do this between dinner and dessert.

·Discuss family traditions regarding Thanksgiving with your partner and choose which ones you’d like to include this year and why.

·If there was a tradition that your family has done in the past, but perhaps doesn’t do anymore, consider reviving it this year if it would be appropriate and meaningful for everyone attending dinner.

·If you have family members who live far away or cannot attend dinner, ask them to do a video chat with you and your family when you go around the table to give thanks.

·If there are specific cultural or spiritual practices that you or your partner have used in the past around Thanksgiving, discuss how to integrate those practices into your dinner this year.
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