Saddle Tracks  ~Steve McClure (Reno)

I own a decent saddle. It’s not the best but it is adequate for the job. It was not made for me although it was ordered with custom stirrup leathers to accommodate my long legs. It is a bullhide covered Wade tree ranch saddle and what I like most about it is that it comfortably fits me and the horses I ride. I’m used to it and it suits me.

It is pretty plain in appearance and that’s the way I like it. Standing out from the crowd is not something that appeals to me. My mission in the saddle is to get the job done quietly, have some fun and stay on!

I get all kinds of comments concerning my saddle. Kids often remark that it is “a really big saddle”. Anyone who has lifted it says that it is “a really heavy saddle”. Jen calls it the “EZ Boy” saddle because, being a ranch saddle, it sits my heels way ahead of my hip and head thereby forever bars me from (that and so many other reasons) any success in equestrian competitions.

But once in a while someone looks my saddle over and remarks “I see you’ve got some spur tracks on this saddle” Well it’s true, it does, and they were unintentionally inscribed by me. Now I don’t always wear spurs. I use them only when they are required for the job and there are, as of this date, two distinctive rows of tracks that decorate my saddle. I recently had a conversation with Steve Lundean about it and he told me that each track was a story in itself and that they made a saddle unique.

The first one was caused by a wreck I had in Nebraska. I had worked safely all week on a ranch and I was literally getting ready to dismount and open the last gate on the last day (this is the type of irony that I excel in). As I stopped and started to swing over the saddle the horse apparently spotted a snake in the tall grass.  The horse spooked, bucked and reared. As is almost always the case, I recovered while still in the saddle and I thought I had ridden it out. I then dropped my guard and before I knew it the horse bucked again and off I went. 

Now I have had more than my share of “unintentional dismounts” and so much so that I have been able to rate my falls as to duration, body position and landing style. For me it is a surreal experience and time seems to slow down as I float through the air.  I find that I prefer the prone, belly up posture as I await the inevitable impact. During this particular performance I was able to hear one of the cowboys reprimand me with “don’t let go of that horse!”  Sure, I thought, I’ll get right on that!  My free fall was probably a 7 or 8 in scoring although I was pretty sure that I would land on the snake and be fatally bitten. I got up quickly, bite free but ego bruised, and noticed that my spur rowel had caught on the the right side of the seat and created an artful engraving right down to the skirt. But I did hold on to the reins!

The second instance was on my daughter-in-law’s horse, Emmitt, at a clinic at West 20. Of course it happened during the short time my daughter-in-law and my son were in attendance. I was not “in the moment” and Emmitt knew it so he intentionally stumbled, fell forward and I tumbled off. I didn’t get much air time on this one so I was unable to assume my normal approach to impact. I improvised something before I hit dirt and got up quickly in the forlorn hope that no one had seen me when of course everyone had (men always think that way). I soon noticed that I had rolled my rowel completely across the seat of my saddle. It was a perfect diagonal and, in my embarrassment, I quickly conceived the idea of running my rowel in the opposite direction. Maybe it would look like it was the original design!  But reality eventually set in and I realized it was no use. I got back on, suitably humbled, and made believe that as long as my butt was covering the damage it really didn’t exist. You know, out of sight out of mind.

I know you’ve got to “cowboy up”.  We all fall down but we have to get back up. I can heal the bruises to my body as well as my ego (what’s left of it) but I sure hate to mess up that saddle!  Nice try Steve. They all may be a story in themselves but, all in all, I would prefer that they were not there.

 ~Steve McClure (Reno)

To read more by Steve McClure (Reno)--see below.

Insights by Steve -- Harmony and Horsemanship

Insights by Steve -- Sherwin

Insights by Steve -- Hobbling

Insights By Steve -- Roping Practice

Insights By Steve -- Support

Insights By Steve -- Sensei

Insights by Steve - Harmony

Insights by Steve-Centered in the Now