From skeptic to extremely pleased rider, what a journey it has been! September 2015, I decided to explore the world of custom saddle makers after riding production saddles for years. Greely was coming-17, and showing the tell-tell signs from years of ill-fitting saddles – those little white hairs on the top of the wither area and on both sides of his withers. It was certainly time to do something for him, and for myself as well. As I was ‘coming-65’ (Ha!), it was time to splurge and do something special for the both of us! Thus began our search.
After years of riding team-roping-saddles, and not being a roper, #1 item in our investigation was tree style. We knew we wanted a style that would be easy to ride for several hours since trails were a big part of our riding. At the same time, we had seen several videos of this thing called Cowboy Dressage. That sure looked interesting and intriguing. Greely is a wonderful athlete and being retired, I was looking for something that would challenge us. Wade-style trees kept coming up as something that would be comfortable on long rides and free-up G’s body for the moves seen in the videos. Being a Quarter Horse that is built wider at his rump than withers, and downhill, we developed a selection process to aid our investigation, including the most important element: Custom Fitted Tree. Through a series of contacts and ‘winnowing-the-field’, we came upon Kenda’s Texas Saddles.
With the first contact, your passion for ‘fitting’ the horse and rider came through the phone in spades! We had talked to a number of other makers, none had your enthusiasm. Your knowledge of Cowboy Dressage and association with Eitan Beth-Halachmy were key elements in convincing us to see what we could create together. With that first contact, we decided to explore your enterprise and see where it would take us.
How were we to ‘fit’ Greely? You come here? Haul him to you? No, you said, you had a ‘process’ that would enable me to easily ‘fit’ him. You would send a number of ‘forms’ representing the various top lines of different horse builds and guidance for me to follow. Believe I said something about ‘being-from-Missouri- and-you-were-going-to-have-to-show-me!’
The forms/guidance arrived. As noted, we put each of them on G. Number of them were ‘no-way’ and three appeared ‘close.’ As noted in the guidance, we took several pictures and e-mailed them to you. From your knowledge and experience, you selected the ‘one’ to proceed with. More pictures per your instructions and soon a tree was ordered.
That is when the real fun began! I should apologize here. My fun most likely became your worst nightmare. Leather quality questions/assurances; tooling styles; exact Guadalajara horn specs that you had never done; leather florets vs. Conchos; strings through the florets vs. attached via metal hooks; rear cinch length, holes in specific locations, with specific tooling details; cantle tooling details; breast collar tooling details and placement; and more. Had to be the most ‘exacting’ (some would say ‘anal’) set of specs you had ever received from a prospective buyer. And, an insistence to meet face-to-face to discuss all of them to look-you-in-the-eye to confirm you could deliver.
Deliver you did! Today was our 18th ride on our fabulous new saddle. Looking back at our requirements, you have exceeded our expectations.
~ Tree that ‘fits’ and frees-up Greeley’s movements.
~ Outstanding leather quality as you promised and confirmed by friends in the leather industry.
~ Build elements that would be the envy of high-line auto makers – stitching perfectly spaced; tooling precisely carved; symmetric construction; stirrup fenders ‘turned;’ numbered stirrup leathers for easy adjustments; strings ‘curved’; tooling placed on cantle, rear cinch, breast collar per unique requests; horn per request; and many more small details.
~ Truly – Custom Saddle…
Your professional management of the entire process from our very first discussion; the many questions so patiently answered; updates provided during the build cycle; to personal delivery of our wonderful new saddle has been most appreciated. Please do not hesitate to use me as a reference with potential customers.