Above is a not so lovely picture of Minx. Adam - you might want to shield your eyes. The history malfunctions in this picture are almost overwelming. Does anyone else see it?
This is technically a 1904 Mcclellen Saddle. I have not done any riding in it because I don't trust the leather and haven't ordered new parts yet (this saddle is not a repro, it's an original with original leather...). So shall we list the ways?
1. Toklat woolback dressage pad. Not exactly military issue.
2. Easy ride stirrups. Perfectly suited for the calvary rider...although the original wood, hooded stirrups are dang good.
3. Nylon offside latigo. You can the tail of it under Minx's belly. The fact that the near side latigo broke apart in my hand like cardboard really should have told me something :)
4. 1859 girth. A really short western would have worked. All my girths are a 26". I need a 24" or smaller, but I don't have one. It's really a shame that the rings don't come with 2 english billets instead of those latigo straps. The 1904 girth looks much different than the 1859 girth. And yes Adam, I know I could punch more holes in the quarter straps, I'm just lazy :)
5. 1859 surcingle (the big blue strap going around the saddle). A nice strong strap. All my 1859 gear is repro and I trust the leather. If my quarterstraps break, this bad boy would keep my saddle from flying. NEVER NEVER NEVER use a Mcclellen without a surcingle. Modern Western and English saddles have fail safes in case a billet/girth strap breaks. The surcingle is the Mcclellen's safety strap! The fact I had the surcingle is the ONLY reason I even attempted to ride this saddle in the first place!
How to test ride an old saddle:
1. Time to mount up. It says something when you don't trust the stirrup leathers enough to mount from the ground and you need to use the block. In my opinion, this is what arenas are for - testing out questionable tack (I'm sure everyone here is familiar with my fear of arenas/fences by now).
2. 2 laps around the arena at a walk. Everything is going well. I love the close contact feel. Let's try a little trot. Yes, these stirrups work well on this saddle. POP! Mmm....when a stirrup leather breaks and you stay perfectly centered in the saddle, is that a good reflection on my balance?
3. Take of old saddle and replace with synthetic Thorowgood. Continue ride.
So yes, I really really really hoped I wouldn't have to replace all the leather on this saddle (quarter straps, stirrup leathers) but it is not to be. So off to my saddle shop for replacement parts. Later. :) The 1904 was given to me, so I don't have any $$ invested in it right now. The 1859 Mcclellen is fine for now. Once the 1904 is up and running it will probably going to replace my 1859 as my endurance saddle for Minx. It's cooler, lighter, and has a leather covered tree instead of raw hide - handy if you're riding in rain. My 1859 now has a split near a seam because I rode it in a rainy ride. I'll save the 1859 for civil war reenactments and for long trail rides - I find it's easier to pack a lot of stuff on an 1859. Since I won't be reenacting in the 1904 I'm going to ask the saddle maker if he can give me new rings with english billet straps instead of latigos. This will put less bulk under my leg and allow me to use a dressage girth.
On a different note, here is a not so good picture of Minx's feet yesterday: (taken from the front - she slightly toes out on that LF but not to THAT degree!)
I called Renegade up today (decided not to have them cut down my boots after all - I can always cut down later, but can't add back!). They are shipping my boots TODAY! Wow! They have a lot of inventory right now, so if anyone is looking to order, now is the time. I might have them by the end of the week. BTW - Ashley - I let them know you were being a good ambassador for the boots.
Welcome to the Boots and Saddles blog. "Boots and saddles" describes a horse of(f) course - my experiences in the endurance world, as a veterinary student, and as a life long student of the horse. This blog is part of a larger endurance information site, which promotes renegade hoof boots and education for riders in their first 1000 endurance miles. I hope that you are entertained, informed, and inspired.
Funder: I swear, endurance is the sport of tying as much random crap on a dirty horse as possible, then riding til you chafe your thighs raw.
Elizabeth Funderburk: You're not tough just because you can destroy your body faster than everybody else around you. That is a ridiculously difficult thing for me to remember...You can be plenty tough without being dumb...
Bethany Faubel: Funder's right: being tough doesn't mean being damaged before you have a chance at senility. Otherwise, we would be calling all professional boxer/wrestlers not only tough but intelligent as well...
"Endurance is a series of small disasters, interspersed with larger disasters. The sport of endurance is your ability to solve and learn and prevent them. (and enjoy the process)"
AareneX on 2010 Goals:
"I will not be discouraged by setbacks in 2010, but will use them as training opportunities for successes in the future."
JB on Revelation 7 "More then just bruised ego's are at stake in endurance, as the horses whole life and well being is on the line".