Saddle Sore

I made my first foray into selling things on eBay this weekend. We’ve managed to amass quite a saddle collection in the past 30 years. Rose and I met at an eventing barn, and we each had a dressage saddle and a jumping saddle at the time. The original saddles didn’t even work on the original horses, but as we added horses and tack we usually found that a saddle worked on someone, so we only rarely sold one. I got rid of a memorably painful dressage saddle (sitting the trot shouldn’t make a person bleed), and Rose sold a cross country saddle that had such a forward knee roll it hit Cookie more or less at the base of her neck. We added all-purpose saddles, breed-specific saddles, and Western saddles to our tackroom.

We are down to three mostly if not entirely retired horses now, and it seemed like a simple decluttering activity to sell saddles we haven’t ridden in for a decade, or in some cases two. I sat down at the computer to figure out eBay. By the time I had listed the third saddle, I had an offer on the first one. By the time I listed the fourth one, a different buyer bought the first one for the asking price. Before the evening was over, two more saddles had sold.

The Arabian-specific all purpose saddle was the first one to go. I didn’t have any saddle-sized boxes, but it is easy to fit an English saddle in a decent sized packing box, so I took a quick trip to Home Depot, padded and packed the saddle, and took it to the UPS store to drop it off on Friday evening.

Saturday we planned to pack up the two Western saddles and send them off. Easier said than done. The large packing box I thought would work turned out to be a couple inches short, with not enough wiggle room to angle the saddle differently. Home Depot’s extra large box may hold more total volume than their large box, but the dimensions are even worse for trying to fit a saddle. The UPS store’s only boxes that were big enough could fit a small horse, never mind a saddle. A saddle repair web site recommended something called a small wardrobe box, which Home Depot’s web site said they had in stock, but another trip to the store found the shelf empty.

By the time I left the house the second time I was barking at Rose over my shoulder while slamming the door behind me. When I came home from the UPS store, where I had heard the cashier tell someone else that a package left with them on Saturday would not go out till Monday anyway, Rose asked me why I was so irritated. I said “Hang on, let me email the buyers to let them know the saddles will ship Monday” so I could at least check “set expectations” off my list and calm down about being in such a hurry.

When I came back in the room and tried to explain myself, I realized that the problem wasn’t that I felt rushed, or the boxes were the wrong size, or that we had different ideas about how to pack the saddles, or any of the logistics. One buyer had asked me what kind of horse I had used the saddle on, and I gave her a list by breed and description of the horses who wore the saddle. Horses who are all either dead or retired now. There’s a lot to let go of in letting go of these saddles.

I’m not a person who gets attached much to stuff. Putting me in charge of decluttering is very effective but a bit of a worry, because I will throw out even the most sentimental of possessions. My aunt used to say that my father would read a letter while tearing it in half from the top down, so that by the time he was done reading he could throw it straight in the trash. I don’t know when I adopted similar behaviors, but it seems I have. On the other hand, when I’m not actively trying to get rid of things, they pile up, and I can look the other way – until I suddenly notice the pile one day and want to put a match to it.

I had thought, looking at all the saddles, that I was looking at a pile that needed to be cleared away, and I wasn’t wrong. I just forgot that I might remember all the first and last and worst and best rides in those saddles. I forgot that it’s been ten years since my heart horse died and I have never gotten over it, or let another horse into my heart the same way. I forgot the relief of the momma of our two best horses when we finally put a Western saddle on her and stopped squeezing the breath out of her with an English girth. I didn’t forget, exactly, but I haven’t thought for years about the miles and the shows and the trails and the lameness and the ribbons and the lessons and the joy.

I don’t mind saying goodbye to the saddles. It’s the horses I mind saying goodbye to. If you had asked me three days ago, I would have said “Of course I said goodbye to them, years ago.” It’s only now I realize that I never will.

5 thoughts on “Saddle Sore

  1. About three months ago I went through a scaled-down version of this. After abruptly selling one of the three horses I ride regularly, I was left with an extra western saddle just taking up space in our basement. I loved that saddle. I’d bought it used, (because new, it would have been way out of my budget) and it fit all three of my horses and me like a glove. (Dumb luck) I’d logged a lot of miles and hours with that saddle, but because it’s also one of the more marketable saddles I own, I decided to test the waters and list it online. I started with a local FB sales page. That was an interesting experience. I mostly got tire-kickers, then a few more serious bites. But it eventually sold to someone more than half the country away. Oh joy! Now I had to deal with shipping. I thought that would be easy because my husband runs a business that ships product daily. Ha! It ended up being a four-man project. Needless to say, I shed a few tears as I pulled out of the parking lot, leaving the saddle behind. The buyer never even confirmed that it arrived. I suspect it was bought by a dealer for resale as it’s a saddle that holds it’s value well. I hope whoever ends up with it enjoys it as much as I did and gives it a good home and a great horse to ride. About a decade ago my husband went through the emotional process of saying goodbye to his first saddle that he used for 24 years with his first horse. He salvaged what he could, but the saddle itself was just plumb worn out. It was hard for him to let that go, for the same reason I struggled to let go of the saddle I brought with me when I left home at nineteen. Sometimes it’s the memories of a certain horse, sometimes it’s the memories of more than one. Saddles are like photographs; they capture so much more than meets the eye as we gaze upon them and remember. I hope all your saddles found great homes.

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  2. “It’s only now I realize that I never will.” Indeed, never. Our love for our companions lasts forever. Saddles or not.

    Sending a dollop of fortitude for moving those boxes this morning. And hands to help carry the weight of the boxes and the weight of your grief.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re right; they are so much more than saddles. Just like they are so much more than horses. This is a lovely and bittersweet post that caused me to reflect on how interconnected everything is. xo

    Liked by 1 person

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