TAILS FROM THE TRAILS
It was that time again. The signs appeared on the tack shop bulletin boards. Announcements and reminders popped up on the local horsey web sites. Then, finally, the day itself arrives, and those familiar hot pink signs flutter along the roadsides, pointing the way to 94th Street in The Acreage, and you hope like mad the rain holds off for the Saddle Diva’s used tack sale.
Such was the case Saturday, June 2. It had rained a lot Thursday and Friday, and Saturday morning looked iffy, but happily the clouds held, even though the humidity was thick enough to offer resistance.
When I pulled up to the sale around 9 a.m., cars were already parked along the roadside, and a large truck claimed the driveway. A dozen or more beautiful western saddles had been set out on racks down one side, and displays of other tack — bridles, reins, saddle pads, halters, bits, girths, chaps, boots — filled the rest of the space.
Susan the Saddle Diva and John, her husband, have been buying and selling tack for lo these many years. Susan is always on the lookout for quality used tack, especially good name saddles. McLelland western saddles are a personal favorite of hers, but she won’t turn down a nice Circle Y or M. Toulouse. In addition, John buys such eclectic items as guns, fishing tackle, taxidermy, coins, old military items and old tin signs.
One special saddle was on sale as a fundraiser to help out a local woman, Kelly, who’d recently been through some tough times and had many medical bills. Even though she’s not connected with horses or riding, someone had donated a lovely English saddle to help her raise money, and Susan graciously accepted it as part of her sale.
“It’s a perfect Bruno Delgrange PJ Light brand-new saddle,” Susan explained, showing it off. “It retails for $5,000, and we’re asking $2,000. All of the money goes right back to Kelly. It comes with a sheepskin-lined cover. There’s also a matching bridle and four shin boots available. So far we’ve had people look, but no one’s made an offer. I’m sure someone would love to have this saddle, and it would help Kelly out a lot.”
Perhaps one of the nicest things about Susan’s sales is the feeling of community. It’s not just about looking at the items she has for sale; it’s about the people you meet there, the feeling of community it engenders. And there’s that wonderful randomness. You never know what, or who, you’ll run into.
“I enjoy her sales,” said Toni, from The Acreage, who was buying reins and a girth. “I came to the last one. Her sales are hit or miss, because you never know if what you’re looking for will be there. I did buy a decent western saddle from her three weeks ago, and got a good deal.”
Toni and I also caught up on my newest horse, a rescue I’d gotten a couple of months earlier — from Toni.
“Saw you riding him out on the street one day,” Toni remarked. “He looked good.”
I assured her that he was doing fine. That’s the sort of thing that happens at Susan’s sales — you get to catch up a bit with friends in the horse community. Then I ran into Carol, also from The Acreage, who recalled an article I’d done about the COP mounted program.
“I’m buying a synthetic bridle so I can take my horse swimming this summer and not worry about ruining a good leather one,” Carol said. “And I need a new girth. I found a pretty pink halter with a little bling. I always come to these sales. Susan’s a pleasant lady. And I think it’s great for the neighborhood, a way to connect with others in the equestrian community.”
Kim, also from The Acreage, was holding a stall guard and a set of reins as she walked around, looking.
“I’m not done collecting stuff yet,” she laughed. “I’m one of their most loyal customers. She always has great sales. I can usually find something I need.”
“She is,” Susan agreed. “Kim and Dave, her husband, were about the first people we met when we moved out here back in 2002. We became best friends.”
Paige, age 11, was at the sale with her mom. It was her first time, and although she doesn’t yet have a horse, she was examining the saddles and bridles. Rick from The Acreage was eying a particular Circle Y saddle. He’d be back for it one day, but today he was just picking up some smaller items for his horse, Joey.
Carol, from Loxahatchee, was also looking around. “I love these sales,” she said. “They always have a wide array of items at reasonable prices. I also get to visit with one of my old horses that Susan now owns, a Saddlebred I called Jimbo.”
Everyone took some time to watch the horse, standing in a paddock just behind the house, who made comical faces on command.
“What I really want is the cart,” Carol said. “I keep trying to buy that cart.”
“It’s not for sale,” Susan informed her, yet again, nodding at the beautiful wooden cart housed in her garage.
I gave Carol the name of someone else who might have a cart for sale. That’s another thing that happens at these sales — someone usually can help you find what you’re after. Brandon found a couple of bits and a bosal.
“This is my first time here,” he said. “I saw the sign on the bulletin board at the Red Barn. I’m really glad to have these spade bits. They’re hard to find in Florida, but I use them to train horses. I got a really good deal.”
So, when’s the next sale?
“Oh, God,” Susan moaned. “I can’t think that far ahead.”
If you can’t wait for the next sale, give Susan a call at (561) 204-1421. She probably has just what you need.