Friday, April 29, 2016

Back in the Saddle, Again.

Ahhh, springtime. When a young girl's fancy turns to thoughts of --saddles?

Yep. At least, if that girl is me. I've spent the last two months working my tushy off, and the only way I managed to get through it without losing my happy smile is I promised myself a really nice treat at the end of it all. I had a certain dollar amount in mind, and then a generous tip became involved, so I kinda splurged a little and got myself a sweet vintage Bona Allen saddle that was at the secondhand tack shop. I dickered them down on the price. You know how you look at a price and then counter with something super low, knowing they won't take it and then you can always go up a little? Well, they took it, right off! Guess this old-fashioned rig had been hanging around for a while and the seller was happy to have an offer.

I can't quite decode the serial number, but this saddle was made somewhere between 1963 and 1974. I'm leaning more towards '74 because the style is very like my '79 Circle Y. Saddlemaking goes through trends just like any other fashion, and like bell bottom jeans, this one just has that 70's vibe.

It's in very nice shape, so all it really needs is a good clean and condition (done!) and some detail work. Like that silver spiral lacing along the edges -- that's damaged in some spots, so I've ordered new and will replace it where needed. You can't see it well in the picture, but the lacing goes all down the back edge of the fenders (the leg parts between seat and stirrup). I've never seen a saddle with that before. That's where it's in the worst condition, so once that's fixed, it'll look proper dazzling!

Someone had put on a nylon seatbelt-like material latigo and off-billet. (The things that hold the cinch in place to keep the saddle on the horse when riding.) I see a lot of folks using these, and they're perfectly safe, I'm sure, but I personally don't care for the look. I had a leather latigo on hand, and making an off-billet was easy: just two layers of leather stitched together with a few holes punched in. The stitching takes a while because I do it by hand. It's not difficult, but it's tedious. I watched tv. This took up the season opener of Game of Thrones and all of Jurassic World.

I didn't want to have to switch over all my accessories every time I need to change saddles, so I needed a breastcollar to go with this saddle as well. I had an old tatty fleece-lined one that I got in a box of stuff at a yard sale. It was so nasty; the fleece was hard and full of dirt, and nothing I did seemed to help. Just picking it up made a dry dirty dustcloud puff up. *cough cough* I cut the stitches and tore off the fleece. 

I thought replacing it with new stuff, but fleece absorbs a lot of sweat, and takes a while to dry. Once wet, it keeps moisture on the leather, so even washing is a problem -- especially in a humid place like the Pacific Northwest where tackroom dampness is a constant battle. But I couldn't leave it with the rough side exposed, or it would chafe the horse. A smooth leather lining was the answer. After cleaning and conditioning, I laid it out and used it as a pattern to cut new lining pieces. More stitching for me! 

Once I get this all sewed on and dyed to match, I'll remake the center medallion and it'll be ready to ride. 

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