Nothing Sadder Than a New Saddle

I’ll take an old saddle over a new one any day. New saddles are stories that haven’t been dreamt and haven’t been sung. They’re blank canvases waiting for the artist’s stroke.

But an old saddle, where the horn is worn smooth from thousands of times that a hand paused there, dallied a rope, or propped up elbow as the owner squinted off into the distance, that’s the one for me. I can look where the cantle wears the scars of a can of snuff tucked away in the rear pocket. The tooling on the fenders is faded by a thousand miles of lopes, jogs, and wheeling on the hindquarters. There are all the mornings, when the cold made someone blow into their hands, before swinging a blanket up over the whithers and then setting the familiar heft of the western saddle into place. All the evenings, with the sweat cooled and the hairs standing stiff on the hide, all those familiar snorts from the remuda, as the horse was tied up to the hitching post and the saddle was thrown back on the rack, filled with the smell of a hard and honest day’s work, shared between the rider and his horse. Compadre, a better tale of faith between friends has never been told than the one enshrined in this old saddle.

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