The Saddle Saga

I’m not as tack obsessed as some people really. I don’t like change, I much prefer to find something that works and then love it forever. Which means that I can splurge on some things, right?

For example, my Billy Cook. I know a lot of people spend a LOT more money than this on a saddle, but paying around $900 for a saddle is absurd to a lot of people that I know. Anyone who makes fun of me should spend 2+ hours in a poorly fitting, cheap saddle then we’ll talk.

My parents bought me a western saddle the Christmas before Robin turned two. It was great for her. She laid on it once at 4H camp. No sweat, it was a $300 saddle. If the piglet laid down on my Billy Cook, we’d have words. She hasn’t worn it yet though and she hasn’t laid down with anyone since 2008 or 2009, so the risk is lower now. Phew.

Well, due to getting older, having a sedentary job, and being lazy, I’ve gained some weight. That saddle? It no longer accommodated all of me. So I had a plausible reason to get a new saddle!

I really loved the Billy Cook that I used to ride when I was at the training barn, but I remembered that it was REALLY heavy. I decided to take that memory with a grain of salt because, at the time I only weighed around 140 lbs. All the things were heavy. Then I started taking lesson’s at G’s this summer and rode in his Billy Cook cutter and loved it. Sold!

If only it were that easy. The best part about riding in G’s saddle was that I realized that I needed a 17″ seat, which was my suspicion, but it was nice to have confirmation before doing what would mostly be a web based search due to lack of tack stores.

I did go to one tack store and tried out a new Teskey’s. And when I say tried out, I mean I sat on it on a saddle stand. Let’s be honest, that doesn’t tell us a huge amount about a saddle.It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for though. It was over budget, a 16 1/2 inch seat, and there were some other things about it that I was picky about. For instance, the screw between the pommel and the billet strap…why???

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Teskey’s

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Random screw…

It had some features that I liked though, like the roughout seat and the basketweave pattern. Plus, it had blingy stirrups!

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Ooh. Shiny.

But alas, it was not the one. The tack store didn’t have a single Billy Cook, or a single (in the style I wanted at least) 17″ seat. Bahhhh. So online shopping I went. I hit up eBay. I bid on a couple of saddles that weren’t exactly what I wanted, but I bid anyway, and lost. I wasn’t in it to win it since they weren’t perfect.

My perfect saddle was a Billy Cook cutter, reiner, pleasure saddle. Any of those. Not a roping or barrel saddle. It would have, as stated before, a 17″ seat. Floral tooling would’ve been amazing, but basketweave was fine. I saw a couple with barb wire trim…no thanks. And I wanted one from Sulfur, OK, not Greenville, TX. Apparently Billy Cook sold the name to some other people who began manufacturing in Texas. The real, original Billy Cooks come from OK (or so I’m told). Sparkly stirrups were a plus. 😉 See, I’m not picky at all…

I replied to a handful of ads for what I wanted online, but they’d all sold. I came to the conclusion that once you buy a 17″ Billy Cook, you keep it, because people weren’t selling many.

When I first saw this one on Equinehits.com, I figured it was taken too, so I sent them an email without getting my hopes up. She emailed me back promptly and said that it was available because a couple of people had committed, then dropped out. Who were these crazies?! I asked for more pictures (you know, to make sure the unicorn was real!) and expressed my sincere interest in her saddle.

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My precious.

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Sulfur, OK

Once she sent the follow up pictures, I told her that yes, I would buy her saddle, and did she take PayPal. By the end of the week, it had arrived! She even gave me the breast collar that went with it.

I took it my my next lesson at G’s and he inspected it thoroughly and remarked that it was basically in brand new condition despite being used. He offered to buy it from me if I didn’t like it. He told me that it was a Classic Reiner (which I already knew, per the ad), and that he had two exactly like it that he saved to show in, but if I didn’t like mine, he’d retire one of his old ones as a work saddle and move it into show rotation.

It was so squeaky the first time I rode Paige with it (my first time riding it) that it startled her so much when we jogged off that she started power trotting. She got used to it after a while, but then G was picking on me, telling me that it was too squeaky for my horse, that I would have to sell it to him.

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As you can see, Paige conquered her fear of the saddle.

Needless to say, I haven’t sold it to him, though I’ve had other people ask if I want to sell it as well. I actually emailed the seller again after owning it for a while and asked why she sold it and she emailed back that it didn’t fit their horse, which was sad because they liked it so much. When I asked what kind of horse they had, she basically described Copper’s type, a tall, lean, stock horse with a high wither. I’ve ridden Copper in this saddle on almost every occasion since I bought it, and he hasn’t reacted poorly to it at all.

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Copper in the Billy Cook with his show pad to see how it looked.

Of course, something was missing…something that I desperately needed to fulfill my western saddle fantasy.

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Does anything look different about my Billy Cook? Disregard the HDR…I was proud of myself for cleaning both of my saddles…

I bought shiny stirrups on eBay! But not for the reasons you may assume, I’m not overly enamored with sparkly things (despite that I show in the blingy class). My ankles were stiff and achy in the stirrups it came with. When I rode G’s cutter with the metal stirrups, they weren’t stiff, so I bought a pair for my saddle, and no stiff ankles since!

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6 thoughts on “The Saddle Saga

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