Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Leather color trends

With the show ring in mind- things go in and out of 'style' based on trends. One year it is all about the light oil tack, next year it is dark oil. Tack is expensive. Not all of us can afford to drop a few thousand dollars on a saddle we may ride in a couple of times a month, only to buy another one, just to fit in next year.

Lucky enough, in the English disciplines, there is not so much going on when considering trends. A neat appearance, pretty streamlined in the look and minimal 'bling' at best. A fancy browband, maybe a few stones on the stirrups, I have seen engraved stirrups, earrings, a stock pin and that's about it. Leather color is usually medium oil or havana, dark oil or black. Sometimes you will see a lighter oil or chestnut color, but that's about as light as it gets.

In the western discipline though you often get four choices- light oil, medium, dark and black. I reccomend medium oil since it fits in with the trend of light oil or dark oil and can be used with whatever the latest trend is at the moment. I understand not everyone can change saddles on a whim.

Tooling can be everything from basket weave, floral patterns, acorns, barbed wire trim and a number of other combinations. My personal preferrances here is minimal tooling. Dust and dirt stick everywhere and cleaning saddles with a toothbrush gets old fast and is time consuming. If you have someone else to do it for you or you enjoy it- more power to you.

The seat may be padded or hard, suede, roughout or smooth leather and either flat, slightly angled or one that puts you in one spot and holds you there no matter what. I prefer a little bit of padding, no matter what the intended use for the saddle. Maybe it's just me, but no matter how much extra padding we have on our bodies- it is Never in the right spot. Suede and roughout seats bring a bit of 'grip' to the equation. If you have suede chaps on and you are sitting in a roughout cutting saddle- it is like being glued in place. This can be good if you are in the position you want and need to be in- bad if you aren't. Sometimes a little bit of 'slip' is good, other times a bit of 'grip' is good.

When shopping for a show saddle for the western disciplines, the first place you start is which discipline do you plan on showing in? Western Pleasure, Reining, Cutting, Working Cowhorse, Ranch Versatility, Trail and I'm pretty sure I may have forgotten a few more, but focus on what you want to do and where you intend to go with it. When you get into roping, barrel racing, penning and sorting as well and the many other gymkhana or speed event's- tooling and color no longer matter and neither does how much bling it carries, just that it fits your horse is comfortable to ride in, puts you in or allows you to move into the proper position and holds up for the job or intended purpose.

The next major thing to consider is how the saddle fits your horse. Is the tree wide enough, narrow enough or is it treeless? Is the tree in good shape- not warped, cracked or broken? Sometimes this one can be obvious to the naked eye, other times the minor issues can go undetected and slip past even knowledgeable people.

What is the tree made of- hardwood wrapped in rawhide, hardwood wrapped in fiberglass, just plain fiberglass, flexible composite materials??? Everyone has their preferences here too, but the bottom line is this. The saddle tree (with or without) is pretty much the skeleton or foundation of the saddle. That's where the saddlemaker starts when building their saddle. Where it goes from there is up to them and how they put all of the pieces together, determines what the final product will look like and how useful it will be.


  1. Most of my equipment is med to dark oil. My saddle has just corners tooled. I work on the less is more theory .Don't know how that will suit the show ring , but I can't see overpowering the horse with the equipment

  2. Thank you for linking to Bad Riding! I found this a few months ago, thought I bookmarked it, and then could not find it again!

    I love this site! It makes me feel better...

  3. Sorry but at least in stock horse western pleasure light oil has been in for about 20 years! I would hardly call that a trend that changes yearly.

    this kind of post just reinforces the idea that western pleasure is all about 'the trends' and only english disciplines are traditional and 'elegant'. Light oil, 2 ear bridles and saddles with tooling and silver are standard equipment for western pleasure, they cost more because there is more TO them in workmanship and materials.

  4. If the trend in tack in the western ring doesn't change much, the trend in attire for the rider definitely does and some of that stuff can cost just as much as a saddle.

  5. As for cleaning tooled leather...

    1. Don't be afraid to use ENOUGH water. People think that leather is like the Wicked Witch of the West, and will spontaneously combust and/or melt if water touches it. Just follow up with a terry towel after you clean each side. Really, you can't get the dirt out with soap alone!! Wetter suds = more cleaning power.

    2. You can also use a soft, soft horsehair brush like a shoe brush to get the dust out of the nooks & crannies.

    3. Don't wait till the day before the first show of the season to clean your saddle!! If you have deep tooling, you HAVE to dust it out often, or else it starts to stick to the leather & itself and becomes that greasy grime we all looooove.

    4. Don't oil/condition your saddle until it's SQUEAKY CLEAN and DRY. This applies to smooth leather, tooled leather, or that porous-looking holey leather that English saddles are often made from.

    5. Oil/condition on the underside of the leather - it will soak up so nicely!!

    I don't like the blonde leather look - it just discolors over time, and just looks OLD a lot faster than a darker saddle.

    My AP saddle is made from a very soft, smooth leather. It came to me a dark havana, but after a session of oiling (because my instructor yelled at me for having a squeaky saddle), it turned a lovely almost-black, which is what it is today.
    26 years later, it has held up fabulously well, and after a recent deeeeep cleaning and oiling, it's still soft and kind of... um.... sexy.

    I have always wanted a brown dressage saddle, and a brown bridle with brass buckles & buckle-back reins. I'm sure that's hopelessly dated, but I think it's pretty, and would look handsome on my dark chestnut tank of a horse.

    There's a kid in my county who shows in a horrid basketweave-stamped HUNT SEAT saddle that looks to be made of cardboard.

  6. Oh, and don't get me started on the cost of western show clothes!!!!!!

    Some of those custom shirts & jackets ARE very beautiful, though.

    I am amused that with today's stretchy synthetics, even a decent Hunt Coat can be had for less than $150!!

    I paid $120 for my Devon-Aire wool blend, non-stretch hunt coat in the mid 80s, and that was a good deal!!! Adjust THAT for inflation....

  7. Sarah- It's always nice to see another new name in the comments and hear what is going on in other parts of the industry.

    In the stock breed western pleasure classes, light oil, two eared, tooled and dripping with silver, may be the fashion statement to fit in, but at the Arab shows it can and has swung back and forth quite a bit. I understand that these are two different markets and each are often at the opposite end of the spectrum, but they are what they are.

    Where the stock horse breeds are concerned for the performance horse classes, sometimes the light oil is not even an option being offered for sale. Then again, sometimes it is available as a roughout leather for some of the grip factor. I would love to hear about the trends in the WP world concerning Saddlebreds, TWH and some of the other breeds if anyone knows about them and can fill us all in.

    I can appreciate that the light oil tack is and has been 'the look' for a number of years for the stock breed WP horses, but I have seen a number of medium oil saddles and tack in the ring there as well. If it should suddenly change, at least some of them can transition with the trend and keep on competing in their current tack. All too often people feel as soon as they buy into something, it all changes and they are stuck with what is now pretty much worth a lot less than what they paid for it.

    I have also seen in the back of one of the horse magazines, where they have a writer who follows and often projects, predicts or fortells what is in, what is coming in, what is "HOT" and what is not. While this may pertain largely to the clothing, consumers can and will carry it to the extremes and it ends up carrying over to the tack as well. The wear leathers extending the length of the saddle pad, now also available with conchos, tassles or leather with silver tips, the horsehair tassles at the end of the mecate or tied to the girth rings under the horse... all things to make an exhibitor stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

    I agree that there is a larger amount of materials that go into a good western saddle- be it for everyday work, roping, barrel racing, cutting or trail riding. There is far more materials and often time invested in each saddle and the price will and certainly should, reflect that. Quality silver is also going to cost more than the cheap stuff that is plated and again the cost reflects that as well.

    Even in the English disciplines though, you will find trends in what is and is not acceptable. Suede knee rolls on the flap, huge knee blocks under the flap, plain flaps on a close contact, pencil rolls behind the leg, plain browbands or 'bling' browbands. Velvet collars on the hunt coats, etched or engraved stirrup irons, spurs and snaffle bit rings, stones inlayed on any of them as well, coats any color but black or navy and even the shirts have gone from a traditional white with a stock tie to colored, collared and just a small stock pin. Anyone remember when rust colored breeches were acceptable show attire? Not exactly hideous or atrocious, but not likely to come back into fashion any time soon either.

    The pads themselves were in some cases not used, shaped to fit the saddle, square and dove tailed avilable in fleece, cotton, sheepsking and a number of other fabrics. The riders number was either pinned to their jacket, fastened at the collar, tied around their waist or now pinned to the pad or slipped into clear pockets on the pad.

    Depending on your personal tastes and preferences- English can easily be just as costly as western.

  8. FV- I am right there with you on the less is more and middle of the road colors. When you can use everything on more than one horse, you really get your moneys worth on all of it- saddle, pads, headstalls, clothes...

    NHM- There are some pretty clear examples over there on bad_riding. The comments can get downright brutal in some of the posts. Not sure if there is anything that can be learned from that.

    CP- Thank you for posting the saddle cleaning tips. I know we can all releate to each one in a good or bad way, that we either do or don't do that. I know I can!

    HM- While the price of the clothes can be amazing, but what I find more so, is that people actually pay it.

    Vest $800 Negotiable Shown with a matching shirt, but no mention if it is available.
    Shirt $600
    Used Shirt $550 Negotiable
    Shirt $450 Ad states- "I paid $899. new"
    Child's Shirt $395 Sale Pending, cute shirt, but $395 for a kids shirt???
    Shirt $375
    Shirt $350 Sold!
    Shirt $350 I like this one, but not that much...
    Shirt $325 Sold! "Your daughter won't be missed in this shirt" childs large.
    Shirt $250
    Shirt $750 This one comes complete with jacket/tunic, chaps and vest, so a bit more reasonably priced outfit, but a closer picture would have been nice...

  9. (I had rust breeches. It was the 80s.)

    Oh, at Congress a couple years ago I saw a FABULOUS black western saddle. Not the shiny cheap black leather you'd find in the Chick's catalog, but a custom saddle from a top-notch company with amazing silver. It was like $12,000 I think, and already SOLD.

    I could totally see it on a big black, gray or blue roan horse, or a buckskin with very pronounced black points....

    I wonder if it will set off any trends, if the trainer/horse/owner is high profile enough, or if it's one of those one-off phenomena like showing Impressive in an Arabian show halter? (It obviously worked....)

  10. I looked at some of those clothes CNJ posted, and... $800? REALLY????

  11. CP- Can you believe those? eBay can be just as bad-

    Show jacket 35 bids and it is/was at $396
    16 bids $293
    Shirt 21 bids $122.40 I like this one, but...
    Shirt 40 bids $225

  12. Yeah, some of the prices can be crazy, even dressage top hats can be insane, it's just a hat! But for some of the more moderate priced items it makes sense to spend a little more money.
    After years of being broke and buying the cheap stuff I learned that you can buy $50 coats each show season or spend $150 and it will last you quite a few years as long as you take care of it. Now that I can afford the better quality stuff I realize I'm saving money in the long run.

  13. I don't know what the trends are across the board, but I do know that light oil is out or going out. As per a multiple aqha world champion. I will not put her name down, she would kill me. I will say she wears a lot of red. lol

  14. oh, 14th.

    I wish the CA style was back in. Romel reins with silver rounds, braided hobbles and lariats, hand tooled garcia or sliester bits.

  15. I have found in the hunter world where I am in Virginia, very little really changes. Medium to dark brown tack is always the fashion. I have never seen black tack, although I certainly am no expert, so maybe it is okay. A bit of bling on browbands and stirrups is okay now and shirts are now more fashionable and interesting. Other than that, still conservative.

    Thank goodness that hard hats have become a bit more attractive. I spent good money on my Charles Owens, but it looks a hell of alot better on me than any of the others I have had. I mean really, in the summer, once you put it on for schooling, you can't take it off until you are done for the day because hard hat hair is really tragic, so it helps if your helmet doesn't make your head look really weird, LOL!

  16. Horspoor I notice you are from California, really the west coast has their 'own' style that I wouldn't call 'standard' for AQHA.

    I am from Michigan/Ohio and it just is NOT true that light oil is going 'out'. MI & OH are two of the most competitive areas in the country and home to a very good percentage of the top wp trainers. Light oil is still very much in. Famous ammy's can usually do whatever they want, but I don't see those trends growing at all.

    And please, keep the 'vaquero' stuff on the west coast! lol

  17. OH I LOVE the CA look, esp. on Arabs.

    Braided romal rains with filigree silver, hobbles, etc.

    As for West Coast vs. East Coast vs. Midwest, I find it fascinating that regional differences STILL come into play.

    In the general world of fashion, the Midwest is always the LAST to come on board (which is why I still have to endure young men with their asses hanging out of their waistbands I guess), so wouldn't it stand to reason that the coasts are "where it's at"?
    And really, I just don't DO Western for many reasons, but please can clunky chunky boots go away??? A lot of WP girls around here still bum around in "stacked" jeans, too, which just make your legs look shorter & fatter.

    I see now why my dad's cousin's wife has a side business making custom Western show clothing.

    Damn. I SHOULD'VE bought the little size 6 set for $20 last year, with the orange chaps & vest and adorable little slinky with fancy cuffs.

  18. And really, those braided Romal reins look best on a finished Bridle horse, who carries himself with some dignity and pride, unlike the peanut rollers that just will NOT go out of style.

    There, got in my rant in a tangentially relevant way. :-P

  19. The superficiality of it all just slays me.


    Great cleaning instructions, catty!

    Good quality, well-fitted. I don't care if it's pink. Horses sure don't give two road apples.

    so there!
    (slams door)

    ooops. I almost forgot. One year, I showed at the Junior International Horse Show, at Ambercroft. In the hunters.
    I used multi-colours for my braid yarn.
    A rebel, even then, I guess.
    Nope, didn't place, by a country mile.

  20. Sarah, I have to say that here in AZ, for some reason, everyone tries to be like Cali. If it's in, it must be the thing to do and we aspire to it...

    In the Arab industry- they are always trying to follow suit of the QH world. Thankfully they have NOT gone to the two year old futurities and have NOT begun longeline or in hand trail. I understand there are people who do like these classes, but they really need to let the babies be babies and grow up a bit before making so many demands on them. With a bit of planning it can be done.

    Trends are not something I am a fan of for any discipline. Trends can come and go but for the most part, in some things- they really need to go, get lost and stay where they fall.

    CP- I am thinking you could probably do pretty well, buying up the used kids clothes in your area and relisting them on either Tack Trader or eBay, still at a reasonable price, but allowing yourself a profit too.

    Most of what I seen marked as sold was in the $150 range and below. Still pretty, still 'blingy', just listed at a more reasonable price. I think for some of the buyers though, it is an ego thing. I spent $XXX for this shirt! ...piece of tack, whatever. Price doesn't always mean value or quality though.

    On the topic of leather care, in cleaning the pony harness I have, I am finding I am quite impressed with its quality. It may be a keeper, but meanwhile I am going to be getting the little guy going again, put to the meadowbrook and back in the ring. Of course pictures will follow...

    CCC- One note about helmet hair- ball caps. Tuck it all up under a hat and you are good to go. Unless you like wearing your helmet around the barn after dismounting. Then again, some of us may need to.

    I know of one concussion I may have skipped had I been wearing a helmet. I was young and dumb and I was standing on the ground next to a horse. She swung her head and I took a shanked bit to the side of mine... Yeah, OUCH! No, not fun. Note to self- don't stand in head swinging range.

    Horsemom- I try and buy things that are of good to better quality no matter what the price range. Stuff that will be acceptable no matter what the 'latest craze going' may be. Getting a great deal on something that is high quality- sweetens it that much more. Paying too much for a piece of junk- beyond words in the category of irritation and frustration.

  21. GL- Good thing you reminded me of another thing I see in the hunter rings. Not only just a different color of yarn, but there again, some people are taking things to an extreme.

    I am thinking a post on braiding will be coming soon...

  22. Ooooh, braiding. I SUCK at braiding.

    Folks who are good at it, I salute you!!!!!

    I CAN do an Andalusian Roll, but I've never owned a long-mane breed. Weh.

    Whenever I wear a baseball cap, I look like I'm on chemo AND prednisone, and working at a summer camp. Total moonface. I like having short spiky hair, because I use pomade, which you can kind of tzujs back into place.

    And now I need to find a nice saddle pad for the worlds smallest huntseat saddle.....

  23. Irrelevant rant indeed Catty Pex. Ohio and Michigan ARE quarter horse country. Quarter horse Congress, the largest quarter horse show in the world is held in columbus. Romel reins are proper only for western riding and trail, sometimes horsemanship, but largely they are considered an "arab" thing. The west coast does NOT set the trends for the western pleasure industry I can promise you that, ranch work, reining and timed events are still the most popular classes out there.

    Quarter horse does not have "in hand trail" I have never heard of that and it is not a sanctioned AQHA class NOR IS LUNGELINE by the way, that is an approved NSBA class, AQHA does not offer this class. 2 year olds cannot be shown until July of their 2 year old year, there is nothing wrong with that.

    "Vaquero" and "traditional" whatever that is, trends are popular on the west coast, but if you think the west coast sets the trends for the western pleasure industry, well you are welcome to believe whatever you like, but you are wrong.

  24. Sarah, sorry I didn't think I came off as pissy...

    And yes, I live in SE Indiana, where most of the horse show people are bigtime AQHA folks.

    Just because something isn't in style here, or there, or anywhere, and IS in style somewhere else, doesn't make it... wrong. Just different.

    The funny thing is, in the hunter/jumper/dressage world, something being around for "only" 20 years, is "trendy"! ha ha

    Western Pleasure is such a weird class in both Arabs and Quarter Horses. To a newbie or non-horseperson, it implies something casual, a horse you'd like to take for a spin down the road or through the pasture. Just like I thought that "Park Horse" meant "a horse you'd like to ride in the Park" and boy, how wrong was THAT idea!!!!!!!

    I've seen a few light colored saddles that I liked, usually because the whole ensemble was very coordinated and the horse was a bright sorrel, flaxen chestnut or red roan. I'm a graphic designer, so I'm very interested in how colors play together, and I wish that more people looked at THAT instead of "gee, this is the IN color these days." That's one of the reasons why I liked that really nice black saddle, because someone had the cajones to switch it up a little, apparently for a horse that could carry it off.

  25. Sorry CP I tend to get a little defensive about my discipline! The light tack does not look good on some horses, I will give you that, blacks and greys come to mind, whereas the darker tack almost always looks good. But I guess we work with what we have, lol.

    Yeah, we WP people get a little "stick up our rear" sometimes, but Qh and WP get dumped on so much sometimes it is hard not to come out swinging.

  26. Well, to be honest, I will never be a fan of the extreme headsets, spur stops, blocked tails and incorrect gaits I've often seen around here. A lot of other horsepeople from a raft of other disciplines don't get it, either.

    Now, I DO appreciate a nice, soft, smooooth-moving horse, I just wish that a lot of the judges didn't simply pin the SLOWEST horse. Even if it's lame. (Yes, I've seen that, and I've seen lame horses place over sound ones at Congress.) It's that kind of judging that has given WP a bad name in a lot of circles. Same as in Arabs AND in dressage- somewhere along the line, collection was traded for overflexed necks. And somehow, where the nose and head go was substituted in for how the horse got soft, responsive and easy in the first place.

    I go back and forth on the tack & outfits. On the one hand, I've seen some FANTASTIC saddles dripping with high-quality silver and amazing workmanship. True works of art, and magnificent on today's big tall WP horses.

    On the other hand, I've seen it get pretty tacky on some saddles, and mostly it starts looking bad because people simply DON'T care for their tack correctly. In fact, speaking of CA style tack, I've seen NICE romal reins just get destroyed because people kept throwing 'em in the bottom of the trailer, in the dust. Honestly, how DO you get the dust out anyway??

    As for the outfits, unless you are a slender, C-cup or less, elegant and quiet rider, (and yes you must meet ALL those criteria), go for something super basic. And really, $500 for a SHIRT is just silly, esp. if it's not custom made for you!!

  27. Sarah, just because AQHA specifically does not offer a class, other stock breeds- APHA, ApHA, etc. can and do.

    A quick search of YouTube renders up this collection-

    Yearling in hand trail Yes it is an Appy, yes they are a stock breed and yes that is a W CH in the class from 2007.

    Another appy in hand trail

    Appy longe line

    in hand trail clinic

    APHA in hand trail

    APHA yearling longe line

    It's out there, it's hapening and they are apparently offering the classes up to and at the top of the 'game' in their respective breeds. Go off all you want about it, but it's there and people are all over it like flies on stink. To the point of some of them RIDING the yearlings, to get the WP 'look' on the longe line.

    Sometimes it takes pissing people off to get enough of them riled up to put an end to something. What is that saying about quiet well behaved women, rarely making history?

    Go ahead, pitch a fit and get it all out. We are all used to seeing it done in type on the blogs. Not like any of us haven't done it before ourselves! Yours truly included. lol

    Blogger will limit your posts to 4096 characters though. I have exceeded that on several occasions.

  28. Sarah-
    2 year olds cannot be shown until July of their 2 year old year, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Ummm. About this rule... there IS something wrong with that.

    They may not be shown until July of their two year old year, but they aren't just trained overnight.

    That does not stop anyone from climbing on them too soon and really putting it to the horse, in order to have them ready by July. Some of them may look mature, but they don't stop growing until they are around 5 and even then, some of them are just not ready mentally.

    Fractured growth plates are great ways to end a horses career, long before it ever gets started. That is what's wrong with that.

  29. Sorry this is Sarah, I cant get signed in under that name so here is my post:

    Many many horses show as 2's and go on to have HUGE careers well into old age, what a lot of non-stock horse people dont realize is that western pleasure isn't inherently crippling, like jumping is. If a horse is well conformed and properly trained, starting as an early 2 does not mean a horse will end up crippled.

    What disturbs me is the willingness everyone seems to have to believe that western pleasure people don't mind "using them up and throwing them away" why would you assume an entire discipline cares less about their horses than you all do? I have ONE horse, that I love and would never want to see crippled or "forced" into a frame.

    The secret we seem to be able to keep from those of you that dont care for western pleasure is that you look for a horse that has the willingness, talent and breeding to do western pleasure easily. When it comes easily you don't HAVE to run them into the ground, they are quiet and ready to go! you saddle break them get them used to traffic and you can show them within 6 weeks if they have the talent to do the open 2 y/o maiden classes.

    I don't show APHA or pinto or appys and never will so I can't comment on their classes.

    I will say that I know people who show in the open 2s AND lungeline in NSBA classes and their horses are sound happy and talented. I don't know what more I can say to convince people who insist our horses are 'dull, lame and beaten', perhaps I should stop trying to.

  30. CnJ- I definitely didn't mean to imply if it was expensive then it was good quality, you're right, you can pay a lot for junk as well!
    As for black tack not being in fashion in the hunter ring, I guess I'm in trouble! I just prefer black, my english tack has always been black. Hopefully I'm not penalized for not following the trends!

  31. "western pleasure isn't inherently crippling, like jumping is.".

    Okay, now I've read everything.
    Inherently crippling, is it now.
    No, humans are perfectly capable of crippling the animal, through breeding for movement that inherently is crippled. Straight hind legs do not bend, have you noticed? Straight up and down legs just don't have the same mechanical leverage.
    I sure wouldn't jump a WP horse. That indeed would be crippling to the horse.
    Drive his teeny coffins straight through his shelly sole.

    But a horse born and bred to run and jump will do it for years and years and years. Can do it, have done it, will continue to!
    Same with any of the disciplines, FCS.

    Inherently crippling.

    Must be a fullmoon, my ire is up.

  32. Oh no not the untouchable and holy jumping! how dare I??? I have NEVER EVER seen a horse that jumps that stayed sound. At the very least it is one of the most stressful events a horse can do - stressfull on the horse's body. but yep IT CRIPPLES THEM, admit it or not, you wont ever convince me otherwise. So does reining, if you think i am just prejudiced against hunters. There is no conformation on a horse that keeps them sound with 1200+ pound slamming into the ground 8x on a course over and over - have you ever seen these horses on the flat? they move like nightmares! Reiners cripple their horse by slamming them to a halt and sliding for 30 feet. horses are meant to walk jog and lope, they are built for it, no horse is built sound enough for jumping or reining.

    This obviously isnt the blog for me, too much animosity towards my horses and my discipline too bad - it was informative and enjoyable. You can have your sandbox back to yourselves now. Sorry for the interruption with my eeeevil discipline. and sorry for intimating that hunters are less than perfect. shoulda known.

  33. Sarah/Attila- nobody is saying that you personally do or don't do this, that or otherwise.

    The industry as a whole? Without any regulation there is no saying, telling or in some cases limiting how far people will go to win. Breeding for a purpose- be it WP, driving or any other sport is why competitors seek out certain bloodlines that have a history of excelling in their feild. A lot of us are in favor of this. Then we get people who wish to be the one to break the mold and start a new trend.

    People in the world of jumpers typically do not start their horses under saddle until they are 3-4, a few good solid years of flatwork before they start jumping at 5-6 and they go on to compete well into their teens. My jumper mare was 14 when I got her and schooling 4'. She had no lameness issues, even with less than stellar landing gear.

    It's not that any of us hate WP, we actually like it. What we hate about it, is what it has become! We despise the though process of starting them too young, tail blocking, tying thier heads up in the rafters, four beating, the shuffle jog dumped on the forehand way of going, long shanked cathedral bits combined with riders jerking and snatching constantly on their horses to get the head down and lame horses being allowed in the ring.

    I'm not sure where, when or who it was decided 'Super slow is the way to go' but realistically in the real world where WP started, out on the range- a cowboy or hired hand needed to get there in order to get their job done. Sure a ground covering stride was important, but easy going, comfortable to sit and easy for the horse to do for long periods was favorable- but where in there is the word slow? Let alone super slow?

    I am also not involved with APHA or ApHA, but we have had clients In the past who were. Did you know the judges Can ask for a "Lope with an increase in forward motion." They can, but are not required to do so. They can because so many people are sick of the fourbeating so this is their 'solution' to the issue. The judges can ask for it, but when they do, not all of the exhibitors will do it. I have seen plenty just keep four beating along. Some of them don't even know what it is the judge is actually asking for.

    The Arabs don't ask for it, because they ask for a hand gallop. Same premise in a way, but even still, not all exhibitors comply. At the scottsdale show a couple years ago, comments were being made by a group along the rail of the warm up arena, about a rider and their horse four beating. Another rider thought they were talking about her. Her horse was in fact four beating too and she asked them if her horse was four beating. She is/was the trainer. Imagine her look of shock, horror, disgust and suprise when she was asked- "You're riding the damn horse. Can't YOU f'ing tell?" It was funny in a way, sad in others. Sad because this person is a trainer and could not feel what her horse is doing, let alone know what it should or shouldn't, just does what is needed to win.

  34. Not that I really want to jump into this argument, lol, but we just had a "retirement" party for a 26 year old 16.3 hand Thoroughbred that was quite a successful jumper for quite a lot of years. Just anecdotal, of course, but this guy is in fantastic shape. If the horse is bred correctly and started when his body is ready I believe he will have a long successful career.

    A friend of mine has had an equine chiropractor out and they encouraged my friend stay off her almost three year old for a little while longer due to her knees not closing yet and some back development issues. I think it would be interesting if everyone had a chiro out to evaluate their horses before starting them, I'm guessing we probably wouldn't start our horses so young.

  35. I see what you mean CNJ, I will post calf pics in the morning so you can have a peaceful look

  36. "I have NEVER EVER seen a horse that jumps that stayed sound. "

    It's HOW THEY ARE trained and jumped, that determines if they stay sound or not.
    AND their confo.

    "There is no conformation on a horse that keeps them sound with 1200+ pound slamming into the ground 8x on a course over and over -"
    OVER and OVER???
    That is just the wrong way to do it.
    I guess allllll those hunters and jumpers I rode through the years were secretly lame.


    Riders lame horses, and breeders breed for horses that can't do the job, and idiots jump/rein/barrel-race
    That doesn't make the discipline itself crippling.
    It's the riders...


    sorry CNJ, I just couldn't let that statement pass. Not when I've seen it done, the right way.

    A WP horse (to me) moves as if it IS crippled.
    Maybe that's why you think they are being crippled when they jump.

    I have no idea.

    Go to a GOOD H/J barn. Their horses do not end up crippled.
    Ask yourself why.

    Oh,never mind, obviously, the closed mind is made up...

  37. My current horse developed ringbone because he was jumped too much, yup, probably on crappy footing, at a riding school. I was told years ago, and it is indeed conventional wisdom, that a horse has "only so many jumps" in him. You could say the same about reiners & sliding stops - I have a hard time with reining because on the one hand, it's nice to see horses actually DOING something, but on the other hand, there should NOT be futurities for 2 and 3 year olds!!!!
    Starting a colt at 2 or 3 and learning the basics is one thing.
    Taking him all the way to a NRHA title before he's 3 is entirely another.
    It's a sport that just ASSUMES its veterans will require injections.

    There are issues in every sport, but WP will always stand out as a downer for me because even though there ARE non-abusive trainers and riders out there, the abusive training methods aren't called out, and often produce the "winning look" that looks to the rest of the world as if the horse is utterly exhausted and defeated.

    There are some horses out there that like to go low and slow, but breeding and training for the EXTREME look it takes to WIN has compromised whole lines of stock breeds. Post legs are NOT a feature.

    If you have to tell everybody "BUT YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND!!!" when discussing your discipline, then you should take a good look at it and ask, "why does everybody hate this except for the people doing it?"

    I mean, I don't do reined cow horse, but I like to watch it, and I don't do driving, but I like to watch it, and I don't do a lot of other horse things, but I like to watch them... but WP? Just makes me sad.

  38. ALSO...

    Today I went to a big tack meet, and scored a pair of itty bitty brand new paddock boots for my daughter for $15... an itty bitty square saddle pad for her hunt seat saddle for $15... and a really nice used bridle for $35, much nicer than any of the new stuff. It even has the right bit already on it... yay me!!

    AND!!! SCORE!!!
    I saw a basketweave huntseat saddle in that orangey colored cardboard leather!!!!!

    I also saw a Blue Ribbon saddle almost like mine, same vintage, for $500. Dang. They don't depreciate much.....

  39. I've noticed a difference between breeds with appointments, colors, styles etc.

  40. Yep, AQHA & APHA are more into light oil leather for sure... Arabs have been traditionally about the dark oil, is this true?

    Arabians used to be ridden "California Style" with braided romal reins & h eadstalls, and a little braided lariat & decorative hobbles fastened to the saddle.

    I've seen some newer Western show saddles with ornamental saddlebags on them. Well, little pouches. I think they're kind of neat....

  41. Well Sarah, we are going to have to agree to disagree. The person I got my info from used to be an ammy. Now shows open. She is still taking Congress and World Championships, even being a lowly gauche Californian that doesn't understand the trends of the east coast, while riding a western horse.

  42. Arabians certainly did their share of the light leather. Currently in the ring I think you'll see most everything except rarely black tack in WP.

    Looking back through the comments I thought the prices of the shirts were cheaper than what I've been seeing (Notice I said seeing and NOT wearing). Off the rack shirts from The Hat Lady can be up to $2000. Crystals and lambskin have sent prices through the roof.

    For me I don't want to look like everyone else out there. I dress to be comfortable, to stand out. Not following the "trends" allows me to do that. I go for what looks good on me and my horse.

  43. And just an FYI I used to show WP. I did quite well. I just don't care for the way it has gone. I don't like four beating, extreme low headsets, the horses tipped into the rail, or the ridiculous level of bling.

    I do love and appreciate a good western horse. I don't appreciate the stiff moving, bound up, rigid looking crap that often gets rewarded in the wp ring. Yes there is good WP out there, but there is a hell of a lot of bad. I don't think anyone is bashing good WP, I think we take exception to the bad being passed off as desirable.

  44. OK, I saw this saddle on Saturday:

    It was STUNNING. Somehow it DOES strike me as "West Coast," I don't know why. Maybe the quasi-Spanish tooling & little flower berries? I dunno. Anyway it was very pretty and a nice departure from the usual WP saddles around here.

    I don't like the mini-horn, though. Makes the saddle look like it's... um.... overcompensating.... by loading up with silver. :-P