Paul was a retired saddle maker and a huge help to us this morning. He spent at least an hour with us looking at our horses backs, setting the saddles on them without pads so we could see how they fit, and giving us suggestions on how to help the saddles fit better as their backs change with their weight and use. We ended up switching pack saddles for Fiddle and Tiska. I am a little nervous about it, since I don’t want Tiska to go through what Fiddle went through with that saddle, but it does appear to fit slightly better. We will keep a close eye on it and hope that this change will be for the better. Since Apache lost a bit of weight in the last couple weeks, his withers are more prominent, so I have had to add some padding so that the saddle does not sore him. Paul said that in his experience, a horse that is used all the time does lose some of the roundness in its back due to the constant pressure there, so they will look thinner even if they are not in bad weight. It seems to make sense considering what we have observed with our horses.
We followed Paul’s directions and rode on the back dirt roads towards some friends of his who he had called to ask if they would host us. It was a nice quiet ride through fields of grass, safflowers, and horses. We were a little frustrated since it ended up being a bit longer than following the main road, but at least the scenery was memorable (especially after the dry desert!) We were hesitant to believe it, but it appears that Blanding really was the end of the desert.
It was starting to get late and we were concerned that we wouldn’t find the Johnson’s home, so I was glad my cell phone had reception and Charlene answered. She drove out to find us and guide us to her house- which we never would have found otherwise! Max and Charlene were an almost 80 year old couple- going on 60! What a sweet, welcoming home! We were also wowed by their gorgeous, shimmering gold colored, Foxtrotter stallion in their pasture. What a beautiful animal- I couldn’t stop taking pictures of him! Charlene and Max invited us to stay a couple days to rest Satchmo a bit more, and they stuffed us silly with a turkey dinner, had their son-in-law give us a spontaneous and much needed chiropractic adjustment, and sent us to sleep on the most comfortable bed I’ve slept on since home!