After our last dressage show, I was feeling rotten with my low white cells so decided to give riding a break for a bit until I was feeling better. Thankfully the break did me good and am starting to feel A LOT better. I went to the doctor's last Friday and he gave me a clean bill of health and to keep doing what I am doing but to keep eating healthy and try not to do to much!
It was very BORING not riding for a week and just flaking out to rest so to cheer me up, my ever obliging husband drove me the 70 miles to Sandon Saddlery (you can also read about it here too).
I was looking forward to having a poke 'round the side saddle corner there but when I arrived and made my way to the back of the shop to ogle the side saddles, I was greeted with piles of black second hand synthetic saddles stacked up!! There were only 4 side saddles on display, 2 of which were not for sale (there was Miss Dodd- Noble's pony pilch side saddle and an ornate Victorian one that had a loose leaping head) and the other two weren't really suitable. One of those was a tiny c. 1890's girl's side saddle with a 15" seat which I WAS tempted to buy but what the heck was I going to do with it as I'm too tall for it and don't have a daughter. Too bad too as it would have fitted Hattie. The 4th side saddle there, a rebuilt Champion & Wilton, I WOULD have bought as it was my size and the tree fitted Hattie's wither tracing like a glove, but was missing it's leaping head! D'oh!!!!
The saleslady said that they have been inundated with requests for side saddles that they haven't been able to keep up so it was bit of a disappointing shopping trip but did manage to buy something, an orphan Champion & Wilton style stirrup leather for my leg length. I don't know why I bought it as I didn't own a saddle with a C&W fitting on it but I saw it on the hook, the price was right and it looked lonesome.
I'm glad I did buy it as look what arrived on my doorstep at 6:09 AM this morning....
I bought my Turk of Cheltenham on Ebay that night after we came home from Sandon Saddlery. It was on a "Best Offer" auction as it needed work and my offer was accepted.
Well, I'm so pleased with it. The seat measures 21 1/2" (measurement)/ 17 3/4" (UK measurement) and the seat is 12 1/2" across. The tree is actually about 1/2" wider than my Whippy and about the same size as my Beck Morrow which would put it at a sound medium/wide fit with the gullet measuring 5 1/2" across (my Whippy is about 5", my old Champion & Wilton was 4 1/2"!).
It doesn't look like it was used very much as the flaps aren't broken in properly yet but it does need some work. Whoever took off the panels, did not store the saddle properly so the tree points have cracking so I am going to get Leo Wright Saddlery to build up the points again. The tree itself is sound with no movement and Leo can fix those points easily at a reasonable price. This saddle is going to be an ongoing project for me as I'll get something done as I save up. After the tree points are done, I need to replace all the billets with new and get a patch put on over the area where the leather has torn off at the edge of the cantle. I can't afford to get a whole new seat but a little patch would be ok. THEN comes the expensive part, new panels!!
Maybe I'll get traditional panels, maybe a wykham, maybe I'll luck out and come across some orphan panels that fit..we'll have to see but I'm not in a rush.
The saddle tree has a label saying that it was made for Mr. George Turk on May 16 1925. Unfortunately, someone also thought it would be a good idea to put CLEAR PACKING TAPE over the label to "preserve" it as well. I just hope it doesn't turn yellow with age. The seat measurements on the label are 18 1/2" and 12". Yet again, it's another case of the tree specs bearing no resemblance to what the seat actually measures on top!
Because the saddle wasn't used very much, the leather is a bit dry so gave a it a good saddle soaping today and oiled with with some Effax oil which made a world of difference as the saddle came to me looking dry like this...
Since it doesn't have any panels, I have not been able to try it on Hattie so I put is on a chair to try it out. The seat fits me well and is a similar width to my Whippy (narrow bum size!!). The seat isn't as flat as my 1930's Whippy but not as dippy as my 1898 Beck Morrow (whch isn't too bad for a Victorian saddle)- kind of in between.
It will be interesting to see how it rides with it having a pigskin seat and doeskin pommels, all my saddles have either been all doeskin or all pigskin. The tree is well reinforced with lots or iron so it's jumping worthy too!
Until then, it's going to live safely, well padded out, on the saddle stand in my bedroom.
Just thought I would share this photo too..
I knew I had a pile of canvas side saddle covers somewhere that I've accumulated over the years from various road trips in search of vintage clothing for my business and FINALLY found them last week in the loft! I thought they had been thrown out but there they were buried behind old VHS casette tapes and bags of clothes that are too small for me. I sorted them out and washed all of them, even discovered that I have an off-side one that will conveniently fit my Beck Morrow. I don't know what the heck I'm going to do with all of them, some are stamped Whippy and Champion & Wilton!