When I was a child I spent most of my waking hours on a horse. As a child I had an unique horse upbringing. First, I was surrounded by people who stated breed does not matter - it's the quality of the horse that counts. Second, my mother did not believe in having children ride in saddles. As such, I rode bareback until 4-H loomed and I needed to learn how to ride in a saddle. Third, once I started 4-H I began riding English. With the exception of those first few years spent in a Western saddle the majority of my youth was spent in an English saddle. For many children this would be considered normal. For a farm raised western kid, perhaps not so much.
As a teenager I would ride the 1/4 mile to the nearby grazing reserve and spend the day having adventures with my trusty steed Smokey. All in my beloved Fels Bach All Purpose English Saddle. When the 4-H group went cattle penning, Smokey (my flamboyant Egyptian Arabian) and I would load up and go - complete with my English saddle. (You can imagine the looks we received!) During the 4-H extravaganza at Northlands, we would run gymkhana - yep, you guessed it, in my English saddle. I loved that saddle and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Looking back, I realize it might have something to do with the fact it was not a cheapo special (the western saddles sure were).
As a young adult I grew fatigued with my English show world and I moved on to new adventures, with new horses in new disciplines. I bought myself a fancy Vic Bennett Rope saddle and enjoyed myself thoroughly. During this phase of my life I said good bye to my beloved English saddle. The small seat no longer fit my much larger seat and the narrow tree would only fit the necks of the horses I was now riding. Years passed and an unfortunate accident blew out my shoulder sidelining (at the time I thought ending) my roping life. So I sold my fabulous rope saddle and bought a Ross Ellas Cutting Saddle. After all, cutting would be the next best thing.
I regret not having an English saddle but recognize the Fels Bach had served it's purpose with me and needed to find a more suitable home. I really regret selling my rope saddle now that I know I can rope again. Don't get me wrong - I love my cutting saddle. You'll have to pry it from my dead lifeless fingers. Some days when I'm feeling down I'll go over to it (its in the house) and smell it's leather smell. Love it!
Here I am with one saddle and so many horsey things I want to do. So tonight, I began doing some Internet searches. I'll often drop into the Vic Bennett site to check stuff out but right now I've decided the priority saddle will be to find an English one.
I feel somewhat lost in my searching as I don't really know what I'm looking for anymore. I know I want an interchangeable gullet system as that's the most practical for me. But I don't know what size and I don't know what type or what brand. And into the scary old but new world of saddle shopping I go...
Pictured is my cutting saddle.