Tag Archives: saddles

Disabled Rider Horse Saddles

Handicapped saddleI’ve never really given much thought to it but there are probably a lot of people out there who would love to be able to ride a horse but can’t due to a disability. Today I came across an article on Grit.com about a saddle maker that crafts horse saddles for special needs or handicapped riders. From kids to disabled veterans, I’m sure the right saddle could be a dream come true to those who thought they would otherwise never be able to ride a horse. If you know of anybody in this situation, perhaps these links could be useful:

Horse Saddles for Disabled Riders article on Grit.com

Handicap saddles by Grays Custom Saddlery in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.
Tel: 870-670-4800

My New KEEPER Saddle!

eli-miller-saddle.jpgI forgot to tell you all – I got something really cool a few weeks ago. I think I mentioned that I had been using my friend Shari’s saddle for trail riding. It is just the nicest, most comfortable saddle you could ask for, but I couldn’t keep using hers because she kind of wanted to use it too. So I thought I’d check on eBay for Eli Miller saddles, and I found a few. One of them just happened to be near where we live, so that’s the one I went for, and I got it!

If you’ve never heard of Eli Miller saddles, you are missing out. Eli Miller is an Amish leather crafter who made saddles and other tack until he retired and his nephew Henry took over the business, using the same techniques and quality craftsmanship and materials as Eli – they’re now sold under the Henry Miller name. These saddles are made on a solid wood tree with a coating of fiberglass and a material called “Rhino” that helps make the tree more durable. They are covered in buttery soft leather and the seat is a “suspended” seat (it doesn’t rest directly on the tree) with a gel cushion. Mine is just heavenly to ride – I have ridden for hours with no pain or discomfort caused by the saddle. It is also really beautiful – rich chestnut leather with a darker seat, and simple, elegant tooling along the edges. There are also other matching tack pieces – bridles, breast collars, etc. (Gee, I sure hope I get something like that for Christmas. ;))

After doing some internet research, I believe my saddle is a “Buena Vista” (model #104). While it wasn’t as inexpensive as my World’s Longest Yard Sale saddle at $60, I still got a really good deal. The saddle retails for about $800 and I got it for $400, and the seller delivered it to me. (She was very, very nice, and we may go trail riding together sometime. She also knows my friend Shari – small world!)

So if you’re in the market for a really good saddle you intend to keep for a while, I highly recommend an Eli Miller/Henry Miller. I’ve seen them in our local tack shops and several online stores. And don’t forget eBay!

My New Saddle!

60-saddle.jpgLast weekend, we attended a major socio-economic event, a veritable cultural phenomenon: The World’s Longest Yard Sale. This thing stretches 630 miles along Highway 127 from Alabama to Ohio, and you can find just about anything there. Like regular old yard sales, most of it is junk. There are a few gems among the knickknacks, VCR tapes and 80’s posters, though, and we found a couple in our price range. Among other things, we got a hand-painted light switch cover; a John Deere hat; an “antique” concrete leveler; and a 17-year-old book about east Tennessee.

horse-welcome-sign.jpg

But our favorite finds, of course, were horse-related. We got a great lawn sign. It’s a big hunk of sheet metal, cut into the shape of a running horse with “Welcome” laser cut into the middle. It’s about 4 feet high by 5 feet long:

Isn’t it pretty?

My favorite buy of the day, though, is my new saddle. I’ve been borrowing my friend Shari’s saddle for over a year now, and wanted to give it back. We looked at saddles, but most were more than we wanted to pay. Then at the end of the day, at a stand that was selling lemonade, tomatoes and a mish-mash of junk, were two saddles under a table. One was just too worn-out to even consider, but the other was okay. It’s a dark brown western saddle with no silver (I’m not crazy about the silver) and brand-new stirrup leathers, and came with an extra strap and roping cinch. It’s pretty worn but not cracked or torn anywhere, and the tree (the rigid foundation that the saddle is built around, kind of like a car’s frame) is intact. Shari looked at it for me and said it’s okay, and that we didn’t get ripped off. The guy was asking $85; Bill, wonder-negotiator, got him down to $60! What a deal!

See you next year at the World’s Longest Yard Sale!

The Big Day!

Okay, I spent several days comparing the picture in the catalog, the pictures we took of Valentine all tacked up when we met him, and every other picture of a horse with bridle on I could find, and decided that today was the day.

I finally rode my horse, by myself.

First, we had to remember how to put the saddle on. It took a long time, but I’m pretty confident we got that right. It stayed on the whole time, so that must be a good sign.

The bridle was another story. I did the best I could, but I’m not confident at all that it was right. Valentine was so good and patient while I tried every combination with those straps that I could think of. I think he was annoyed by all the giggling, though.

Once the bridle was looking as close to right as I could get it, and the bit was adjusted pretty well, we maneuvered Valentine over to the tack room, which has a foot-high step up, so I could get on. Then Bill led us out to the pasture, and it was time.

Was that a wild ride! There are a few factors that came into play here. Valentine’s former owner hadn’t been riding him regularly, and we hadn’t ridden him at all in the month we had him. We were using tack that was all new to him. He is only 5 years old – a “teenager.” And, probably most importantly, I’m a total greenhorn and he knows it. So he spent the whole time I was on him trying to get me off. He ran under trees. He brushed up against the barn. He charged up to the barbed wire fence. He ran to the low point of the fence at the corner of our property, where I thought for a split second that he was going to jump it! He ignored every command but “whoa” and was slow to respond to that one.

The good news is, nothing he tried worked. I managed to stay on the whole time, and didn’t get off until I was ready.

Can’t wait to do that again…

One Step Closer

We got a saddle today! A very nice person we know let us borrow a saddle. I can’t believe someone would be that nice. I love this place! She also came over and showed us how to put it on the horse, and made sure the stirrups were adjusted correctly for me. That was so thoughtful, I can forgive her comment that the stirrups were already in the right place for me because her kids had been using the saddle.