Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The price of care

Ok so everyone knows I have gone through the tack room and opened the door for selling a lot of what is there. I have sorted through it all, sorted through my mind on what is staying and what can go. I have made my list, checked it twice, gone back to bein' naughty and gave up on playing nice. Sorta...

I checked through catalogs and websites for each item, found the price of a new one, looked objectively at what I am offering, considered it's condition and set a fair price for each one. Some of the stuff has never been used, some has been used only once- to try on for fit and some has seen it's fair share of use. But I have always cleaned and taken care of everything. I think in some cases this is what seems to set people off.

I also have this bad habit of looking at things and deciding what I would expect to pay for it if I were the buyer. If it is good quality, in good shape, has been taken care of and is slightly below the cost of buying new- no problem. If it is faded, worn out, dried out, torn up, frayed, smashed, bent out of shape, beaten to a pulp and long since given up the ghost of life- don't expect a sale from me.

I may not have always spent a great deal of money on something to acquire it, but in taking great care of it, it has lasted me for years. Like the Fox-something-or-other brand leather hunt bridle I purchased back in the late 80's for my first horse Tai, from a tack store (Horsin' Around) that closed long ago, for the whopping sum of $25. I still have it, it is still useable and I am hanging on to it!

It was the one I could afford at the time, but even then I knew one thing. Taking care of it would make it last. At least until I could save up more money and buy something newer, nicer, better, fancier, stronger... whatever. And even for it being at the bottom of the price range of everything on the wall in the store- it was still well made, still decent quality leather and worth a bit more then low price being asked. If I were to ever offer it up now, I could only reasonably ask $10-$15 tops. Even still someone would think that is too much or maybe not enough.

When buying tack, there is quality to be found in every price range. There is always going to be the stuff that is cheap because it is cheap. Cheap price for cheap materials and cheap workmanship that went into making it. There is also going to be decent quality items that with good care, will hold up for some time.

Good care may even be no more than wiping it down after use, keeping it inside- the house, tack room or tack compartment on the horse trailer. Putting it away for next time, rinsing off the splint boots, hanging up the polo's allowing them to dry instead of rolling them up. Hosing off both sides of the western saddle pads once a week if in heavy use or once a month for the recreational riders crowd. Storing the saddle pad upside down to air out in between rides. Soaking all of the brushes in a bucket of soapy water- once a week or once a month, depending on use. Rinsing the bit off after each ride. Washing the english pads and polos as needed...

Suprisingly enough, taking these few small steps, giving everything a glance before use and again before putting it away, ensures your safety, your horses comfort and will generally secure the value of things, should you decide to or ever need to sell something. Some things actually increase in value as inflation has upped the asking price for new and your item is still in excellent condition. It happens...


  1. FIRST!

    Sounds like you got a good deal CNJ!

    You know, it amazes me how much people will make fun of you if you insist on good equipment care.

    I've only ridden at a couple of barns that required bits be rinsed off after every ride (I'm not so good at it myself), and even NICE barns don't always take good care of their lesson tack - or even their own high-dollar show tack.

    My parents bought me my first saddle - a Blue Ribbon huntseat saddle with the most AMAZING ginormous kneerolls. Used it for a year, sold it for $50 more than was paid for it, and got myself my current AP saddle. My friend's mom's tack shop sold stuff to 4H kids at cost, so I paid $350 for an $800 saddle in the mid-80s. It's still in great shape, because I had a picky instructor who, after greenlighting the fit, made me get off and oil that sucker till it didn't squeak anymore. That took QUARTS of oil, a couple of afternoons, and I've never regretted it.

    I picked up a really nice English bridle at a tack meet for $35 this spring. Someone has taken really good care of it, though I suspect it's at least 15 years old.

    I find that the cheap leather that comes out of Asia just won't condition to a satisfactory "feel." Argentine leather usually works better. Exceptions abound, of course, but give me used European or American made leather goods over new Pakistan/India/Morocco stuff ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

  2. I believe on reading this , I need you to move to Alberta ,and coach me in care of my tack! I try , but quite honestly fall far short of that standard. That could explain why ,halfway through a bog my bridle fell apart and I rode the rest of the way on a wish and a prayer (thank goodness for a good horse!) I do a better job checking things now

  3. Hmmmm, the TackCleaning Bus.

    it could work;)

  4. Oh, MAN does this bring back memories from when I was a kid. I took lessons for nearly 6 years (I think?) from a 3-Day Event Trainer who also taught beginner english/dressage. My first saddle was a 13 or 14 inch Stubben A/P that my mom got used - but was in excellent condition. I have NO idea what she paid for it wayyyyyyyy back all those years ago.

    I don't remember most of the lessons themselves anymore. BUT what I DO remember is every sat, after the morning group kids lesson, she made ALL of us sit and oil up our tack. For a full hour. This was not 'part of the charged lesson', but was expected as one of the barn kids. (I was the youngest of them all lol.)

    Those early lessons served me well when last year I purchased my first saddle as an adult... a used Kieffer Centaur A/P Wide gullet that has leather as soft as butter. I picked it up at THE ONLY used tack store here in the Valley, Tack Solutions by Leslie, and paid only $125 - with irons ($35), a fleece pad ($5), and a girth ($20-ish i think) I was under $200 for the entire set up.

    I went home, and spent 3 days oiling that saddle, and now the leather is so soft that if I look at it funny it melts.

    I couldn't find anything about it online, so I finally ended up emailing the US representative for Keiffer, and after a weeks worth of emails and pictures sent out, he finally came back with an estimite that it was around 25 years old, in EXCELLENT condition, and is worth around $500 on an open auction.

    I about peed my pants! Leslie had NO idea what she had LOL.

    Since I'm now horseless, Its carefully wrapped up in an old flannel sheet, and is sitting in a back corner of my closet, waiting for the next horse to come along.

    I've also sold a few pieces as well... a bit I really wish now I hadn't, and so on and so forth. I try to make my own tack when needed, I made my own rope halter, and a training fork, as well as my own home made set of clip on reins.

    I thank that instructor every time I see my saddle in the back of the closet! I know I can get another 20-30 years out of that saddle because I was taught how to take care of it properly. :)

  5. I know that you sent me some very lovely items there Missy when
    I was in need that I was very glad to get. I even loved the colors.
    And now, I have to keep praying that catty doesn;t sell that saddle before I come up with money so that I can match it with that headstall you sent me. I have some cowhorses that I will be showing off next year. And I can't think of anything I would rather ride them in than your bridle and catty's saddle.
    catty I will let you know in the next week or two. I have been working on it for awhile now.
    Would you keep it and take payments for a bit until it is paid off?

  6. Catty the Asia stuff you mentioned the leather is tanned in pee. Yep, urine. That alone is enought to make me say, I think not.lol

    And CnJ you are on a roll. I loveed reading this!

  7. Dena- one of the things I loved about that bridle, besides the screaming deal I got on it, is the fact that you can add the silver to dress it up or leave it plain and it's just as fancy without. I am glad you are getting some use out of it. It has never been on a horse in all the years I have had it.

    CP- I have gotten good deals on a lot of my tack. Taking care of it just helps ensure a reasonable return when it comes time to sell. I view all tack purchases as an investment. An investment in my safety for one and an investment that could pay off should I ever need to sell.

    Fern- reread the last two lines in my response to CP. None of us buy a horse, bring them home and let them rot do we? Tack is the same. It may not eat, but it still requires some attention and care.

    GL- don't you have an old bridle hanging around too? So is your place the road trip take off point? Party at GL's place everyone.

    CL ad queen- I bought my Crosby close contact at TS. As well as a blanket, a helmet cover, a girth and a few other things. That is one hell of a bargain hunters paradise!

    I am thinking that will be a great topic for the next post. The extremely sweet deals we have all gotten on tack. I know I have a couple I can share...

  8. Dena - keep me posted.

    I've got it at a tack store on consignment right now, but if you want to buy it, I'm sure we can work something out!!!!

    I used to swear by Blue Ribbon Saddle Oil.

    I finally found a comparable - if not the SAME - product: Walsh Leather Oil.

    Lexol always feels kind of slimy to me.

    In another life, I'd love to be a saddlemaker.....

  9. One of the things I love about Pony Club is their attention to tack. I have an old Crosby that is at least 40 years old, and is still comfy. And my darling hubby found a Sharon Saare endurance saddle at a storage sale. Lots of oil and it's priceless!

  10. I have used the spray on Lexol, the glycerin bar of saddle soap, the Kiwi brand saddlesoap in the round can in the shoe store, Murphy's oil soap and probably just about every and any other kind available on the market.

    Kitt from Trumbull Mountain did a recent post about Black Country Balsam complete with photos, over on the blog Saddle Fitting- The Inside Journey. Sounds like a product worth trying out!

  11. Buy a good saddle, take good care of it and it will almost last forever.

    I bought my very first saddle, a Passier Dressage Saddle, about six years ago. Paid about 400 $ for it, considered it a bargain, since a new Passier saddle would have been around 2500 $.
    It was (and still is !) in good working condition. Nice to ride, even over smaller jumps.

    My facial expression must have been priceless, when I called Passier one day to find out how old my saddle really was. It was made 1978.

  12. Passier, Stubben, Crosby, Smith-Worthington, County.... etc etc etc

    I guess saddles are like stoves or cars - if you take care of them, they last for generations. Since I long for a close contact style Dressage saddle in brown, I'll definitely be going the "vintage" route someday. Well, I'm also broke, which is another motivating factor.

    (Of course, I also jones for a shiny red stove with rounded corners and a little periscope that looks down into the oven. But then I also love pink bathrooms.)

  13. Oh, and whatever happened to the wonderful Millers catalogs I used to droooool over as a kid??


  14. Average Cowgirl- I think you are on to something there...

    I have yet to 'wear out' a saddle of any kind or hear of someone else doing the same.

    Now keep in mind that wearing one out and neglecting one to 'beyond use' status are two different things.

    I have to agree with CP on the brands. Certain brands are just KNOWN for quality. She likely seen the photo's of a Passier Grand Gilbert dressage saddle I found a short time back and was zoning in on. They sell new for $3500-$3800. This one was listed for $150 and had a small tear in the leather at the edge of the seat. I missed snagging it in time, but someone got hell of a steal on it.

    CP- that same website has a Crosby on there, that may work for you. It is listed at $100. I keep debating whether or not to scoop it up myself. Shipping is around $15-$20. Email me for the link if you forgot. That is one place that will be on my rardar for a while.

    I would be interested to know how old my Simco is. I bought it used and have had it for about 10 years now... Sure it has seen better days, but haven't we all? But it is still in good shape and still in use. I may try getting in touch with them.

  15. People like to diss on Simco, but a horse trainer friend was talking just the other day about how that's his favorite...

    One of my best friends had a Simco that she rode the hell out of for years.... it held up so well!