Monday, April 14, 2008

Win and Awesome

That's what I'm made of. No, really.

See, we went to a consignment auction Saturday, and in spite of freezing cold and high winds, I stood outside and stoically kept on goal.

And do you have any idea how hard it is to be stoic while you're hanging on to a steel trailer for dear life with your feet flapping above the ground? Let alone bid??

Well, I got a couple of good back cinches, and a couple of good leather breastcollars, and some quirts and bats because they were really cheap and honestly you can always use a beating stick.

Oh, and I came home with a Frank Vega handmade custom trophy saddle, too. It's a barrel saddle, which I didn't really want, but its construction is such that I could tie on to a small to medium calf to doctor it if I had to, without breaking the horn completely off.

I'm about to go into some detail about this that some of you may not get. Those of you who ride western or have ridden western will get it, and most of the things that anyone doesn't get should be explained when I get the pictures up, so please bear with me till then... and I'll be happy to answer any questions, as usual.

It's all hand tooled, full basket weave on the skirts with oakleaf accents, and matching flank cinch billets. Rawhide edged cantle and gullet, in a silver threaded cherry pie roll. Minimum "flash" with three conchos on each side and the silver on the cantle and gullet. I can pull the conchos later and put strings under them to make them actually useful, so I'm happy enough about that.

This saddle is probably worth upwards of a grand, at the low end of the estimate, and I won the bid at under four hundred and fifty dollars.

Sure, it's got writing and engraving on the stirrup leathers but that doesn't make a bit of difference to how it rides. This thing... I swear until I threw it on Monkey to try it out yesterday, it had never actually been on a horse. Brand new, stirrups weren't even turned.

Which means I've spent most of the weekend smelling like neatsfoot oil, as I very carefully condition the leather. Farmmom would beat me if I tried to put a couple of heavy coats of oil on it and call it good...

The fenders and stirrup leathers are roughout, which I like for riding, but hate for the first good conditioning... cause you have to go in from the back side (the grain side) to oil it... and to get the whole thickness of the leather moisturized you have to do very light layers. Over and over again.

Too much oil at once will saturate a few layers of the leather fibers, and that will block the oil from going any deeper, which results in leather that's nice and supple and shiny... half way through. And dry and cracking on the other half.

I've got a few more days of regular light oilings before I'll have it to where I'm satisfied I can back off on it a bit. It's good leather but it was built in 2001 (so it says on the stirrup leathers) and I think it's sat around without much care since then... which is fine, if all you want is an object de art.

But if I'm riding that sucker it's gonna be conditioned, and being Farmmom's daughter (she's dabbled in leather work most of my life, only dabbling from lack of money to buy the materials... shes good) it's gonna be conditioned right.

I'll try to remember the camera when I go to the barn today, and show ya'll how good Monkey looks in leather. He's not real sure about the creaks, it's been a while since he's had leather on, but he'll get used to it again. Just like I'll get used to a fourteen inch seat instead of a sixteen.

It is just plumb amazing what a difference two inches makes.