A Cowboy’s Faith: Organizing tack brings reflections

buchmanhead“Oh, if those saddles could talk, the stories they would tell.”

More than four decades of accumulation literally stuffed the tack room, such we could hardly get in the door. Despite plenty of damaged and unworkable horse equipment, nothing had been thrown away, always thinking “we’ll need it someday.”

Very little ever again served useful purpose. But, the memories did flow when we began sorting all out. A tack-collector backed his pickup up to the door, and free gratis we handed over the old, used and much now-useless tools of the cowboy trade.

First out, several dozen lariats accumulated from the professional roper-girl who’d “worn them out,” although they’d work for our poor aim.

Next, bundles of halters that’d been fixed, and inoperative again. They’re heavy nylon, but still unable to bear pullbacks of sometimes a hundred broncs annually.

Handfuls of bridle rein pieces, and many headstalls in some form of disarray. Lots of different curb, snaffle and hackamore-type bits.

Plus, saddle pads and blankets of most every shape and color imaginable, all showing heavy usage, amplified by ranch rodents.

Winter blankets, and hoods, along with summer sheets had become unusable from rips, rot, moths, and the like.

Seeming-uncountable broken lead ropes of every length, shape, color and condition that could be, yet no good to lead a horse, let alone tie one.

Saddles were the closest to our heart as we reflected how we got each one, and wrecks endured. Despite all having “guaranteed trees,” most had broken, and some repaired. One’d been bolted together three times.

While not fit to ride, each saddle has perhaps a stirrup, cinch, latigo, billet, buckle, something that might come in handy on another saddle in a bind.

Our first saddle, Dad’s saddle that he’d kept from his farm sale in the mid ’40s, shows its age, but is intact, and will be completely restored. Another high-backed “Shipley” from the ’30s  has collector appeal, so we’ll likely invest in it, too. The other half-dozen are now done gone.

Despite the cleanup, there’s still plenty of useable tack to last a cowboy’s shortening lifetime.

Reminds us of Jeremiah 8:14: “Let’s get organized,” and Jeremiah 7:3: “Clean up what you have.” Still, First Thessalonians 3:6: “Treasure your memories of what’s happened.” Now, Haggai 2:4: “Get to work. For I am with you.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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