The Rough Out Saddle
All my memories of Dad on a horse include the rough out saddle. For many years one of Dad’s pastimes was to break or train horses. At that time there was some money in horses and horse trading. Dad would go to horse sales or buy/sell/trade with other horse people. He was gifted with an eye for horse flesh as he grew up farming with a team of horses and knew a great deal about horse behavior. He generally had a horse that he was working on for someone and had a good reputation for training. He did all the ground work and got them to the stage that we called “green” broke. He has often said that horses buck less at night. They can’t see as well in the dark. Dad owned a business and would work with the horses when he got home, generally after eleven at night. Dad said recently, “That saddle has been on a lot of horses.” The buckskin horse was one of the first that I remember.
Dad bought the saddle when he was in his 20’s and he said it was the heaviest saddle he had ever owned. The man he bought it from was a big man by Dad’s account. It does weigh close to 40 pounds and it takes some strength to heft on a horse. Dad was/is gifted when it comes to seeing an animal that has potential. Generally all it took was good pasture, time, some work, and certainly lots of miles.
There were all kinds of horses around our place when I was a kid. Our Shetland, Molly Bee, was my first horse. I shared her with my brother. We had an old race horse named Joe. He was smooth riding and still had some speed. We had to climb up on a stump to get on because we were little and couldn’t reach the stirrup from the ground. There was a yellow horse that made a great diving board. We would lead him out into the deep part of the river and jump off the rump. That horse would stand in the water for hours while we climbed up and jumped off. There was a big draft mare named Blue Bell that we rode bareback. I don’t think a saddle would fit around her. My younger brother got a few toes broken from the weight of her feet. We were most always bare footed and she was slow to pick up her hoof. There was the horse that jumped out of the corral. Honest, from standing still and then out of the corral in one move! There was the little blue appaloosa “Spook.” When Dad sold him the guy came back and said he couldn’t ride him and Dad said, “My daughter rides that horse!” Dad was always throwing one of us kids up on a horse in the sale ring. Amazing how it helps the “sale” when a kid can ride around the ring guiding a horse with just legs and holding on to the mane.
We kids all had horses and as we got to be more experienced there were horses for saddle club, barrel racing, and western pleasure events. Dad’s horses were for breeding stock or stud or horses that he trained for others or sold for a profit – small and sometimes large. Each of those horses wore the rough out saddle.
If you ride west of our place within a mile you are on old roads that rarely see a vehicle. You can ride in the bar ditch or on the road, up hills and down, across a low water bridge or four miles to a small town for a candy bar that is more stale than anything on the shelf today.
Yes, my job was to put miles on them. It wasn’t really a job. There was nothing better than to be outside and especially on a horse. The trick was to get up early and try to get out of the house and on the horse before Mom could catch me for “inside” chores. Mom always said if she couldn’t find me she would look in the barn.
Not long ago Dad rescued a horse that had been neglected and the “horse lover,” the man that sees potential, went to work again. It took two years but that horse is healthy. Dad, who is now 86, said he would like to see that horse trained and might like to ride again. I pulled out that rough out saddle and had it refurbished. The old rough out saddle will have a second life and will sit on horses for another 60 years.
Post Script – I would like to identify the saddle maker. On the back of the cantle is a brass plate. There is a crest with a star in the lower right side of the crest.
St. Joseph, Mo. is on the bottom of the brass plate. Inside the crest is the word “tradesman.” No words are visible at the top of the brass plate. On the front left side of the saddle there is a fringed piece of leather that has the numbers 5151S. This may be a model number. If you can help me learn more about the saddle maker I would appreciate it greatly.
Thanks for shooting the breeze with me,
Dad on Buckskin Horse and Ray on Brown Horse
Restored Rough out Saddle
Deanna on Blue
Dad’s Saddle on Blue