Category Archives: Tack thoughts

It is my birthday and I’d like a saddle that fits my horse, please. Demo’ing the Advantage and the Stonewall.

So tomorrow (as I write this), or today (as you read this) is my birthday.

The only thing that makes this OK is that the annual Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento always falls around my birthday.

Since the Expo always happens around my birthday, I give myself permission to attend all three days and to spend more money than I should.

Actually, I don’t have enough to spend.  That’s the problem.

"Ice cream n cake, gimme ice cream n cake!"


Usually I go to the Expo to discover all the new gear and interesting inventions (and the not so interesting ones).   I love the ‘show specials, the awful food, the brand new trailers, the elite horse auction, the clinicians… all of it!

But my favorite part of all is still, and always will be, the VENDORS.  I just love to learn and I dissect every booth!




This year, I’m going to try to find a saddle for BG which I most certainly cannot afford and most likely they haven’t invented yet.

So far, she has been impossible to fit.

Now I know that most of you instantly had a ‘fitting’ idea pop right into your head as I said that…  Yup.  I’ve heard most of them and tried them all.

She is an anomaly.  BG is like the Princess and the Pea.  Every little thing upsets her.  She can feel it.

BG:  “OMG Human, there is a hair under the pad!  You expect me to carry you under these conditions?!”

Spoiled, right?


But, her trainer also had the same issue yet she made BG wear the saddle that fit her best.

BG bit me the next time I tried to saddle her.

Uh huh.

I started my quest that moment and have not stopped.

Oh sure, we’ve had some “pretty goods” and some “this almost works!” but nothing that she settles into that leaves an even mark after a long ride.

(It isn’t her back or a need for an adjustment, shim pads or her trim.)

It has come to the point that I’ve decided to only ride her on short trails, or not at all.

The sad part is that she loves to ride in the trailer and always wants to ‘go!’.


I have a difficult figure... And, I just want what I want. A good fit.


I decided to go to the Expo website and print out the exhibitor list.  I then circled all the saddle makers and went to their sites.

I found two saddlers who are exhibiting this year that have saddles I’d like to try.

The Advantage Saddle and the Stonewall Saddle.

I’ve contacted the vendors and I’m going to try them both (I hope) during the Expo.


OK, well, I chose this one because of the weight, the rigging, the small footprint, cutback style (I think), large airflow channel, endurance pommel, short bars and because they say it works well with gaited horses.

I also like it because it is very much like my Boz saddle (my all time fav) but a bit less expensive.

The website isn’t very sophisticated which can be good or bad.  The company is small which can also be good or bad…


The Advantage Saddle

I cannot wait to sit in this and get a feel…  For me, I don’t appreciate Western fenders for my tiny Oompa Loompa legs.  But, they do come with regular leathers so that’s good.  And, I don’t think I like the deep seat.  I think I like a flat seat.  But, I’m willing to try something new.


The Advantage rigging

The Testimonial page reads like what real riders would say.  I like that.  It doesn’t sound like the manufacturer put words in their mouths.

And, when I emailed them, I got a quick response.  She asked for photos and a video.  She was also very keen to let me take home a demo and try it.  (She doesn’t know that I write this blog so she wasn’t trying to be nice…)

This is a photo from one of the testimonials



I happened to have been at a feed store recently that had a ‘used tack’ section.  In there, I found a beat-up, spartan saddle and it peaked my interest.  It was called a ‘Stonewall’.  From the looks of it, someone rode it A LOT – usually a good sign that it fit both the horse and the rider, hopefully.

So, I took it home for a trial.

The Stonewall Classic

It was way too narrow.  But, it looked very interesting.  I liked the small footprint, I liked the endurance pommel, it was lightweight, had less under the rider’s leg and the foam underside was interesting.

I got online (linked here) to read about it and found out that they will be at the Expo, too!

They didn’t offer a demo, but they did offer for me to measure my horse with their measuring tools.  OK, I’ll do that and see what they say!


The Stonewall measuring system


Today is my birthday.   My hope is that I can have a great time at the Expo this weekend, discover a bunch of thrilling new things, and maybe, just maybe… find a saddle that fits my horse!



It is a short video of a dog escape artists who so reminds me of my Dexter!

Click here to Watch this video if you have an escapee dog!


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

Gimmicks and Gadgets… “One Day Alice, Straight to da Moon!”

I’m going to stick my neck out and say the unpopular.

OK, here goes:

We live in a society where we are all too busy.  Yet, we want horses.  We don’t have the time it takes to develop the oneness with our horses yet we want that…  Many of us, myself included, are the weekend warriors.  We go out to work or ride our horses and we wonder why they aren’t as good as they were with the trainer, or why they aren’t as good as they were last week, or why the dang horse still isn’t getting whatever we are trying to teach.  We get frustrated.  Out of that frustration comes my topic for today.


Resorting to devices to fix the issue really bugs me.  In my humble opinion, there is no substitute for time on the ground and time in the saddle.

There, I said it.  People who skip steps and then make the horse pay for it by wearing contraptions just burn my chaps.  I’m not saying that we don’t have the right to have horses if we don’t have the proper time (because I have 12 and I know I don’t have that much time…).  I am saying that if we don’t have the time, we shouldn’t make our horses suffer because of it.  And today, I’d like to speak about devices.


OK, I hear you… who has the time to work at this 5 times a week?!  Trainers do that so I don’t have to… Or, the horse is good enough for what I do…   And, I say, SURE to all of that.  That’s fine.  What I object to is the rider using correction devices so readily available everywhere that make your horse do it or else!  These devices are so common, they are now accepted as tack.  And some actual tack can be mismanaged very easily to become or else devices.

I’m speaking about tie-downs, certain bits (maybe all, for the purist), most spurs, nosebands and cavesons used improperly, curb chains used improperly, shank bits, standing martingales and bosals used improperly… and many more.

What is really frustrating to me is that many of these devices started as simple training steps which have now been eliminated in favor of just using the devices full time.  And believe me, I totally want to save time and skip steps when it comes to riding, but it isn’t fair.  It isn’t fair to the horse and it isn’t fair to the rider.  Neither are getting proper training and both feel they are justified in their behavior.  The human feels like they are a pretty good rider and the horse feels, well, I don’t know how they feel but I have witnesses how I think they feel… and so have you.

I support my opinion with two arguments:  Herd observation and the Indians vs the Cavalry.


Horses in herds are very cut and dry animals.  They appreciate justice.  They have an acute sense of right and wrong.  The lead horse is usually a very fair animal.  She insists the herd behaves to remain safe.  But, she doesn’t dish up anything just to show who is boss.  Her moves are all based on the concept of the right thing at the right time.   And, all the other horses listen to her because she has earned that right based on a proven time of really great decisions.  Having said that, it has also been observed in the wild (and here at home) that most herds have the “bully”.  This bully stirs up stuff just because.  Usually, it is a dominant horse related to the lead horse.  But, do you know what happens to the bully in herds?  Retaliation.  Always.  If the bully horse does something unfair, eventually, he/she will get his.  This is documented.  Horses follow a leader and remember a bully.


I interviewed Dan Bates who has the largest collection of cavalry history and artifacts anywhere.  I don’t know that he is THE authority, but he is a leading authority for sure.

Dan and I spoke for several hours.  During that time, we were speaking of the McClellan saddle.  I was asking why it was created.  Dan smiled and said it was because “we couldn’t keep up with the Indians.”  He was saying that it was decided that a new type of streamlined saddle had to be created to carry all the gear and still keep the horse sound.  Then, Dan smiled again and said that we were never able to ride as fast as the Indians.  Ever.  Hmmmmm.


So, this is my premise.  If a horse feels bullied, eventually, he will retaliate.  And, if you use a bunch of devices that skip training time, you aren’t becoming a partner to your horse and you aren’t commanding justified respect.  In essence, you are being the bully who will eventually, most likely, be the brunt of a retaliation.  And, instead of looking at the cause, we, as humans, go purchase another device.


And that brings me full circle.  What I want to say is that our horses are not brought in from the wild.  They don’t know how to navigate hills or cross water.  They are no longer part of our culture where they are trained from foals and ponied everywhere.  They aren’t carrying packs before they carry people.  They don’t have a rider who spends time learning how to balance without a saddle or bit…  Our horses today often don’t get the benefit of a thorough education.  We skip elementary school or take them out after junior high — you know what I mean.  And, we expect them to know what we want.  “Hey, they’re horses” (whatever that means).  And, if they don’t know what we want, we’ll get a device to fix it.

So, what is the purpose of this post?  I guess I am saying to perhaps think about all the stuff we put onto our horses to make them do what we want.  Maybe part of our horse experience could be purposefully really thinking about what the horse might be reacting to when he/she does something that frustrates us.  Maybe we ponder Leader vs Bully.  Maybe spending a few good moments thinking about what makes a horse trust and follow us would save more time later.   Time well spent vs time spent.  Many of us are so quick to find the faster way… and maybe that isn’t the best way.

That’s all I’m saying…

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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!