A bit question and a saddle question - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-22-2014, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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A bit question and a saddle question

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).

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post #2 of 11 Old 06-23-2014, 12:57 AM
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It's pretty rare, but the tree could be warped as you suspect.

Sometimes you can tell how twisted a tree is, or a different perspective, by standing it on its' front end. Sometimes the front end won't even be even. You can wobble the saddle. Sometimes you can see a real disparity in the cantle from right to left or the bars from one side to the other.

I once dropped in at a horse auction where they sold tack first. A woman had ordered some roping saddles from Mexico to resell. Every one had a twisted tree in them. She was not happy with the old rancher who pointed it out to his grandson while onlookers watched.
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-23-2014, 01:09 AM
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kinda sounds like its warped. Take it to a saddler (a person who actually makes saddles, not someone who just sells them) and get them to have a look at it for you.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-23-2014, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boots View Post
It's pretty rare, but the tree could be warped as you suspect.

Sometimes you can tell how twisted a tree is, or a different perspective, by standing it on its' front end. Sometimes the front end won't even be even. You can wobble the saddle. Sometimes you can see a real disparity in the cantle from right to left or the bars from one side to the other.

I once dropped in at a horse auction where they sold tack first. A woman had ordered some roping saddles from Mexico to resell. Every one had a twisted tree in them. She was not happy with the old rancher who pointed it out to his grandson while onlookers watched.
That's what's weird. I tried resting it on the front end (the pommel) and it's not wobbly at all. And from the rear (looking down at the saddle with the pommel on the ground), it looks even. It's just from the front that the bars don't look even.

I'm really not happy about this. That was $225 I couldn't afford to flush down the toilet and I don't feel like I can, in good conscience, sell the saddle on to someone else knowing that the tree is most likely warped. I should have known when the seller wouldn't let us take it to try on Tink that something was up.

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post #5 of 11 Old 06-26-2014, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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So here's some pics of the saddle that I got today while out at my best friend's house. It is sitting on top of the other saddle (the one that is going to be mine once I "replace" it with one that fits her) because she doesn't have enough saddle racks.

Straight on from the front:

Closer up:

Seat from the back:

Looking from above with the front/pommel on the floor:




Is there anything this saddle would be good for, other than decoration? If there isn't, since it's technically mine, I'll just give it to my mom to use in her park as decoration (instead of the nice, cute little 12" wade with tapaderos that I found her a while back and cleaned up).

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post #6 of 11 Old 06-26-2014, 09:43 PM
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so that's the wonky one right? Id take it to a saddler, you never know, it could be fixable, assuming it isn't warped, there might be something between the tree bar and the skirt, couldn't tell you how many times I have had to bust wasps nest off my saddles, could be something like that down in there. who knows.
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-26-2014, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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I pushed on the cantle today and there's more give than I would expect there to be. We tried it on the mare again today and the top of that right bar digs into her pretty badly. Since my best friend won't use anything but a thinner (1/2" maybe) leather pad on this mare, I don't feel comfortable having her use it. The top pad is like what she uses: The saddle pads for horses! , with a thin felt liner underneath. The third one down is what she gave me to use under my aussie (that doesn't fit my horse).

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post #8 of 11 Old 06-26-2014, 09:54 PM
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sounds like there's something wrong with it, but the only way to really be sure is to pull the thing apart and have a look. I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you know how to put it all back together again.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-26-2014, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnrewPL View Post
sounds like there's something wrong with it, but the only way to really be sure is to pull the thing apart and have a look. I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you know how to put it all back together again.
Don't know how and it's definitely not worth the headache to do so. We'll just find another saddle. Luckily I just sold my Stubben (for way less than I wanted, but it was to a friend, so I'm okay with it), so I'll have some "extra" money.

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-26-2014, 10:38 PM
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I'm with Anrew on this one. I bought a saddle off eBay with a similar problem. Found a retired saddlemaker in my area who now only does repairs (hard to find but they are around). And he fixed it for $40.

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