One of the obsessions that seems to come with owning a horse is trying tack, finding new tack, finding the right tack for what you're doing, and - of course - caring for the tack.
We are currently looking around at other saddles that are more lightweight and comfortable for long trail rides. Of course, the ones we really like soon climb up into the $1,500+ range.
One option is an Australian-style saddle, like these. We both like the simplicity of the engineering and design, as well as the lighter weight and the support of a higher back cantle. Well, we like the way that higher cantle looks and feels, but have only sat in one on a wooden stand, not on a wild and wiggly spotty horse.
Part of the joy of tack is the workmanship, the way good quality tack looks and feels. Our Crates saddle is a great all-around saddle, good for both arena work and trail. But the other week, when we unwrapped our cutting saddle, the difference in craftsmanship was like night and day. I couldn't help but run my hand over the leather of the cutting saddle, feel it warm up under my hand, and admire the hand-stamped design on the skirt.
It's like art work, only I almost have more appreciation for it than a painting that's only use is to hang on the wall - the saddle has a job that it does well, all while looking like someone poured a little piece of themselves into it when they built it.
Guess that makes me less of an art aficionado and more of a cowboy.