My best friend bought a fairly nice curb bit at a yard sale the other day for $1. It has swivel shanks and the mouthpiece is sweet iron (I think). The mouthpiece doesn't have a port, but it does have a barrel in the middle and the two side pieces of the mouthpiece swivel. It's very similar to this bit: Classic Equine Mullen Roller Flower Long Shank Bit - Horse.com
Except it isn't as fancy and the shanks are more like 6" with teardrop ends where the reins attach. But the mouthpiece is the same.
Anyway, the bit is fairly rusted. One of the sides of the barrel moves freely, but the other side is stuck. What would be the best way to get the barrel unstuck on that side? We thought about using Coke (hey, if it can clean up battery acid, it should do great for rust, right?
Now the saddle question.
I bought my best friend a saddle day before yesterday. She had received an Action Saddle Company saddle for her birthday and it fits her mare beautifully, but the seat is WAY too big for my friend (I'm the one who found it and the lady swore up and down it was a 15.5"...yeah, it's closer to a 16.5-17"). So, our plan was to find my best friend a saddle that will fit her and I'll buy it, then I'll trade her for the Action saddle, which will fit me.
So, we found this saddle on Craigslist and went to look at it. They were asking $275 for it, but it had been up on Craigslist for 20 days, so we offered them $225 and they took it. It's an older roping saddle with a rawhide-wrapped wooden tree. The leather is old, but soft as butter with no cracks or blemishes beyond normal wear. I can't find a maker's mark to save my life. Very sturdy and lightweight saddle, though. We measured the gullet and it measures at 7", which is what BA's mare needs. The seat is about 15" and fits BA like a glove. When we looked at the saddle, we didn't notice anything hinky about it, other than the stirrups didn't match.
So, she gets the saddle home and goes to try it on her mare. She tried it on first without a pad and ran her hand under the tree. The left side is great. The right side, however, seems a little tight. She figured it was because Tink was standing on a bit of a hill and wasn't standing evenly. She climbed up in the saddle after putting her leather compression pad with felt liner on Tink and cinching up the saddle. Tink didn't react or anything (BA had a too-small roping saddle on her when I met her and Tink was acting up like crazy in it). She still asked me to come out and see how I thought the saddle fit.
Now, disclaimer. I'm not an expert on saddle fit, by any means, but I do know quite a bit about how a saddle should fit and how it shouldn't. I played with enough saddles on my old gelding (eight in less than six months) to have a decent idea.
So we went out this morning and put the saddle on Tink. Left side is beautiful. Right side, however, seems pinched a bit at the top of the bars right at the shoulder. When you view the saddle from behind, the cantle is warped down and to the left, but the skirts are level. The tree is level and even when viewed from behind or looking down with the saddle pommel-down on the ground. However, when we put the saddle on the saddle stand, it appears that the right side of the tree is at a more closed angle than the left side is (not sure if that makes sense). For example, on a regular tree, when viewed from the front, the bars look like this: /\. On this saddle, the bar on the left side (when looking at the saddle face-in, so the one like this / ) is at a slightly more closed angle.
I tested the tree, similar to how it's described here: Mechanics for the Equine Athlete: How to tell if your saddle tree is broken
. There was no give in the tree or horn. Everything was solid. You can lift up the skirts and see the tree (at least the rawhide-wrapped edges) and everything appears in good order. The fleece is almost non-existent on the underside of the saddle, but there are no noticeable blemishes or issues.
Could the tree be warped? I know pictures of the saddle would be best, but I forgot my phone when I went out to my friend's barn today and couldn't get any (she's not home tonight to get any for me).