His saddle is second most important to a cowboy, right after his horse.
Not as specific about design as some, and we don’t wear one out every two years like a few, but the tack room houses a half-dozen saddles that have truly seen their better day.
Dad’s high-backed saddle from his cowboy days of the ’40s hung on the garage rafter ever since we could remember, knowing that we could use it if we just had a horse. Purchased new, the saddle was the only thing Dad kept from the farm sale he had after losing a hand. Sure enough, when we finally got Spot, the saddle came out of retirement.
One would have thought that saddle was gold-mounted as proud as we were to ride it in 1962. Within two years though, we got Nellie Belle and needed two saddles, so Dad or Mom could ride, too. Rumsey & White Hardware, across the street from our grocery store, had four saddles on display, and our mouth watered as we examined them.
Finally, Dad and Mom gave in and bought us a Tex Tan saddle for $145. Coincidentally, before the rest of the display was sold, Mom had bought one for herself at $175, and Uncle John got one of the others. For several years, we couldn’t stand the idea of anybody riding our saddle but us, and we’d clean and shine it carefully, as if crystal.
Our first ‘pleasure’ saddle fit us perfectly for 11 years, but on March 2, 1973, we traded it off for a Dugan No. 134 roping saddle. Now talk about getting used, we don’t know how often that saddle was thrown across a horse, nor the number of different horses it was on, but the tree and seat were broken and bolted back together at least three times.
Eventually, there was just no fixing it, and we put Mom’s saddle into use full time. After years, and too many wrecks, it also was forced into retirement. A couple of trader saddles were ridden, until they likewise became hazardous to our health. We tried an eight-inch race training saddle a few times, but it never fit our six-foot frame.
Then, a Tex Tan saddle Dad had ridden for awhile, and later used by our son, became ours. It now has a broken seat. We’ve vouched we’d win our next saddle but we don’t compete anymore, so that’s doubtful. We thought our daughter might loan us one of the ten she’s won, yet she knows how we tear them up, so that’s doubtful.
Maybe our son would let us borrow his trophy saddle, but he didn’t want us to ride it once, so that’s doubtful. We really want a silver saddle like friend John Burr rode on his All-American champion Golden Note in the Rose Bowl Parade, and that’s doubtful.
Then, a telephone call from a cowboy friend invited us to his ranch: “I want to give you a saddle, but you have to pick out which one you want.” Like a kid, we could hardly wait to get our “new saddle” It’s King No. 1054, and the finest one we’ve ever had. Besides that, our comrade wouldn’t let us pay for it, which seems to make it even better.
Orders come in First Kings 18:44: “Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.” Our record shows we’ll likely follow Second Kings 4:24: “Hurry, saddle the donkey. Don’t slow down unless I tell you to.” Yet, we all must remember First Corinthians 12:4: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.”