special saddle 2

The author’s granddaughter Emily learning to ride, using the special kids’ saddle.

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part series on a very special saddle. The first installment ran on Nov. 6.

After my young sister outgrew the little saddle, my kids learned to ride with it, starting with Michael when he was 3 years old, riding my half-Arabian mare Khamette. Michael and then his sister Andrea went with me at a very young age when I had to ride range and check cattle and fences, since my husband Lynn was generally busy irrigating or haying and the kids had to go with me.

They each started out on old Khamette, with me leading that mare from my own horse, so she wouldn’t just stop and eat grass along the way. Their short little legs didn’t reach past the saddle pad and they weren’t able to kick her enough to make her go, and were not always strong enough to keep her from dropping her head to grab grass. That mare led nicely, however—whether we were trotting along a trail or chasing after a cow. After the kids were big enough to handle the “controls” on their own, I no longer had to lead the old mare, and they eventually graduated to younger horses of their own.

Michael rode the little saddle for several years, until he graduated to a larger youth saddle my parents bought for him. Then Andrea rode the little saddle until she was 10. They both had many adventures riding the little saddle, going many miles.

On one memorable occasion when we’d neglected to check Michael’s cinch during a long ride, when he was riding Khamette, we’d gone come down some steep hills and through a gate in our high range pasture. While the horses were stopped and I was shutting the gate, old Khamette put her head down to eat grass, and the saddle with its loose cinch (and forward on her withers after coming down off the mountain) slipped down over her neck and dumped Michael on the ground. The saddle was on the mare’s neck, with the cinch around her front legs, holding her head down. The old mare didn’t panic; she just kept eating grass while I rescued the kid and the saddle.

On another occasion, a few years later when Andrea was riding that little saddle galloping home ahead of a thunderstorm, one of the stirrup bows came off. We retrieved the stirrup and Andrea carried it the rest of the way home, riding like a wild Indian galloping along on balance alone (since it’s hard to ride properly with just one stirrup). We took the little saddle to our local saddle-maker to have it repaired.

When Andrea outgrew the little kids’ saddle, a neighbor gave her an old saddle that she still uses. When Michael and Carolyn’s first child (Heather Carrie) started riding, we gave the little saddle to them. Young Heather rode it, then her younger brother Nick rode it many years.

Nick outgrew it and passed it down to Andrea’s oldest daughter, Emily, when she was learning to ride. She had fun riding on another old ranch horse—a grey gelding named Khamahn (nicknamed “Veggie”) who was a grandson of my good old mare Khamette. Emily used the little saddle until she started to outgrow it, and her younger siblings started riding it. Charlie, Samantha, and then Danielle all learned to ride with that saddle; it went many more miles for several years.

Those three kids are all teenagers now, and riding bigger saddles, so it’s time to pass the kid saddle along to the next generation, which will make 4 generations of kids starting out their riding careers with that little saddle!