A Saddle Should NOT Make You Cry

I got a call from Schleese yesterday. And no, it was not a good call. So you all know that after my fitting with Jochen Schleese that my saddle went up to Canada to get the whole bottom re-done. It was going to cost me an arm and a leg to get it to fit to Phoenix, but I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it and I wanted my saddle fixed so I had agreed. I was looking forward to getting my saddle back in another 2 weeks even better than it was before and all custom fitted to Phoenix. Financially it had been hard on me to get it done because I refuse to be in debt over horses (lesson learned when Gennyral was hurt), but I just knew that if I could deal with it for two months it would be worth it in the end.

How hard has it been on me financially you ask? In the past 3 weeks I have not gone out to eat a single time. I normally go out to eat at least once every other day. I have turned my heat down to 55 degrees during the day and even lower at night so I am wrapped in blankets constantly at home. I have stopped going to the grocery store and have been living on pastas and other non-perishable goods. I have not gone out with my friends. That means no bars, no movies, and NO FUN. I also have not had lessons! I love riding lessons and am missing them terribly. Normally, not having a saddle would give me a good excuse to take some lessons on different horses, with no lesson this time it just means no riding (which makes me a not happy person). I did my own car repairs even though they took a long time and it was FREEZING cold out. It has gotten so bad that my co-workers have nick named it “my saddle debt diet”. I am so cheap now that others are noticing. Not only that, but having no fun is just no fun! I can’t even entertain because that costs money. I tried to keep all this in perspective though. I was able to keep it all together knowing that it was only for two months and at the end of it I would have a beautiful saddle that fit Phoenix perfect. That was the positive image that I was able to keep in my mind…until I got that call from Schleese.

The message was simple. My saddle was to old to just be able to replace the bottom. They would also need to redo everything else under my saddle including new billets. This was going to cost more than I was quoted. They left the price and told me to just call back when I got the chance to confirm it was okay to go ahead. I got the message when I was at work and I swear to you I could not breath. There was no way that my saddle was going to cost ANOTHER $630 on top of the $1,100+ I was already paying (not counting tax of course) to fix it. I just could not believe it. It took two more listen throughs of the message before I was even calm enough to write down the name and number of who I needed to call back. I was still shaking so bad that it was barely legible.

How could this be?!?! Jochen Schleese himself had told me how much my saddle was going to cost to be repaired. How could it cost an additional $630? I was shaken, but still in disbelief when I called them back. The woman who had called me had left for the day, but she left the names of a few other people that could help me in her message. I was connected to someone who was not familiar with what was going on, but who tried to help me anyway. They got the sales slip and said that they were thinking that someone had made a mistake and that my $1,100 was more than enough to cover it. They were not sure though because they were not directly involved, so they told me to just call back on Tuesday and speak with the original person. I could totally handle that. I took a deep breath as I hung up feeling better because this was clearly just a big mistake.

It was when my phone rang not even 5 minutes later that the panic shakey breath started up in me again. The woman had called me right back because she had made a mistake in telling me that it was included. Not only was it not included, but there was nothing that could be done to my saddle at all unless I was willing to spend the additional $630. With tax that meant that I would be spending about $1,900 to fix my saddle now. I tried to think rationally and ask good questions. I failed miserably on that end. I did find out that if I decided not to have it done that they would just charge me a $65 shipping fee and send it back home. I asked why I would be charged and they said because it was my decision not to have it worked on. I did a little mental math and between the $1,900 for the repair and the money for the bridle and fitting I would be spending over $2,500 on tack for a borrowed horse. There would go over half the shows in my 2010 show season just like that because I wouldn’t be able to afford them.

That is when I lost it. I tried to not start crying until after I hung up, but it was a close call. I just felt this overwhelming sense of loss. I know it is just a saddle, but in that moment it was the loss of my show season. The loss of my dreams. The loss of having at least one thing that was nice and perfectly fitted. I knew that I could not afford the extra charges without selling off a lot of things that I was not ready to sell yet. I was already at the bare-bones as far as spending money goes, I would have to give up something else in order to afford the saddle. Or live in misery for another two months.

I could justify spending $1,200 on the saddle because it was an investment in our future. Not only that, but Jochen Schleese himself had recommended these changed. I also didn’t have a lot of time to think about it, which always helps to justify spending that kind of money. At $1,900 though…that makes everything look different. Not only could I buy a whole new saddle for much less than that but I AM ONLY HALF LEASING PHOENIX! What kind of idiot spends that kind of money on a saddle for a horse that is not even theirs?!?! (and sorry GHM, but I don’t think he will ever be mine because his is one pricy pony). Plus, it is not like I am going to the Olympics. I am still not sure if I am even showing recognized this year. I made a choice about my career when I was in college to choose people over money. I knew when I was getting into my field that sacrifices would have to be made. Four month of sacrificing almost everything for a saddle for a horse that was not mine was just not something I could lie to myself about anymore. I was being stupid. To confirm that I spoke to tons of people about it last night (including PO, my trainer, everyone at Gen’s barn, etc) and they all agreed that now is not the time to be spending $1,900 to adjust a saddle to Phoenix. I am so upset about all this that I am even thinking of sending back my beautiful new bridle out of money guilt. I really shouldn’t have gotten it in the first place. It was just so beautiful. I can’t decide what to do about the bridle. The saddle though I know I cannot afford to fix. I have to call Schleese back today with my decision. I am just so bummed out about this.

I am still in a place of sadness about all this. No anger has entered into my thought process yet. I know that rationally I should be angry that it took them 3 weeks to even look at my saddle. I know that I should be even more pissed that they quoted me the wrong price. I am just not there yet. Right now I am just so sad with the loss of my perfect saddle for Phoenix. I really thought we would have it all figured out. Now instead I am going to have to start the long process of looking for a new saddle for Phoenix. I am going to keep my Schleese just in case I ever do decide to get back on Gen. Even without selling it and buying a new saddle I am still going to save money compared to having the repair done. My new saddle is not going to be as nice as my Schleese I am sure, but I feel pretty confident that for under $1,000 I can find something that works for now. Phoenix is only 5 after all and still growing. I am just so disappointed. I really thought this was going to work out.