Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Some of the rumors about Big Horn come from the fact that in November of 2008, Big Horn was purchased by American Saddlery, another saddle manufacturer just down the street from Big Horn. American brought over some of Big Horn’s best people to ensure that the quality continued in the Big Horn products. During the transition of moving operations into the American Saddlery facility, there was of course some slowing of production. There are still sometimes delays in getting saddles, but during our visit, we saw enough saddles in production and inventory to make any saddle-seeker smile.
The people at Big Horn were very welcoming and several of them took Chuck and I (Charlie) on a very thorough plant tour. In addition to the many Big Horn saddles that have been around for years, Jack Hughes (president/owner) & Mike Stocker (previous owner of Big Horn) were excited to show us the relatively new Sil-Cush line of saddles. These saddles are built on a Steele Equi-Fit Flex tree. We got a hands-on demonstration of the raw tree showing just how it flexes. Big Horn lines the tree bars with Sil-Cush breathable silicon foam which molds to the horse’s shape as the back and shoulder muscles move. And the Memory Foam Extra Soft Seat just makes you want to stay in the saddle.
The Big Horn team with Chuck
Jack, George, Mike, Bonnie, Andy and Chuck
Chuck checks out a Big Horn Endurance saddle
Thanks to everyone at Big Horn for making our visit informative and enjoyable!
Here’s a true story...
A customer recently called us and said she is still trying to get her money back from a particular online store that will remain nameless (I just wonder why someone would purchase from someone that has to put "Honest" in their name). She had bought and paid for a Big Horn saddle over 6 weeks ago via Paypal, but still didn’t have her saddle. She wanted to cancel her order and get the saddle from us since we had it in stock, but she was told that once you get past 6 weeks, you can't get your money back. She went ahead and purchased the saddle from us. We only hope she was able to get her money back.
So what’s the bottom line with Big Horn?
1. Big Horn is still making quality saddles.
2. Deliveries dates aren't always what Big Horn plans but you WILL get your quality saddle.
3. Buy from HorseSaddleShop.com where we keep LOTS of Big Horn saddles in stock so we can ship when you order.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Jamie, Ben and Chuck
We (Chuck Klockow, owner and Charlie Hueni, customer service) recently had the privilege of visiting several of the manufacturers who make the great saddles we sell. After a full day of driving south, our first stop bright and early was Dakota Saddlery in Ider, AL. Upon entering the building, one thing stands out – low inventory. There were only a few finished saddles waiting to be shipped! But don’t worry, nothing’s broken at Dakota. In fact, it’s all going as planned by owner Ben Inman and Jamie Millard who work along with their wives Diane and Denise (sisters). You see, Dakota doesn’t build a saddle until they have an order for it, which allows them to save on inventory costs and sell their saddles at extremely reasonable prices. Ben told us that another saddle manufacturer recommended that he increase his prices, but Ben assured him that he is very content with the way things are going.
There are lots of reasons we like Dakota. Two of them are quality and service. Ben and Jamie showed us around the shop where we had the opportunity to see saddles in all stages of production. It was a thrill to see the hand craftsmanship that was going on by the skilled work force at Dakota. We also looked over their raw materials which include US hides and high quality synthetic fleece. Because of their quality, we stock a large number of Dakota saddles. We want to have them available so that when we get an order, we can ship it the same day. Our customers love that! Dakota also has great service. If there’s something you want customized about your saddle, they are happy to do it. And while some manufacturers charge a “penalty” for making a change, Dakota’s prices for customization are very low. In fact, they don’t charge anything for some changes including choosing the color of your saddle and seat. So you have a great opportunity to get a customized saddle at a very affordable price.
We have enjoyed a great relationship with Dakota which includes working together on custom saddle designs sold only by HorseSaddleShop.com – like the very popular Flex Trail Saddle model 2212. Spending time with the people at Dakota made me realize why they have such great quality and service. It’s because that’s the kind of people they are, and it just comes through in the product. Unfortunately, due to our tight schedule, we were forced to decline Ben’s generous invitations to take us out for some southern cooking. We'll be sure to save time for that in schedure for our next visit!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
We also visited the Creation Museum just southwest of Cincinatti. What a great monument to our all-wise and all-powerful God who has so generously created this beautiful world for us to enjoy Him in. It was very impressive, and so refreshing to see the truth of creation on display in a museum. I would recommend it anyone.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Now stir in 1/2--1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, a couple drops of dish soap, one banana peel (you can throw the fruit in if you're feeling generous. Me? I'm making banana bread.) Add two cups of warm water and give it a good stir.
Take the top of the bottle that you cut off, place it spout down over the bait, line up the edges, and duct tape the layers together. Use your scissors to poke two holes on opposite sides of the bottle, then take your twine and tie knots to secure. Your finished trap should look like this:
Hang your traps in the barn and dispose of them when you deem them full. Your horses will thank you. And until flies are on the endangered species list and I develop a conscience about killing them, I will too.
Anyone have more tips on fly control?
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Now although our word is reliable, you don't have to take our word on anything--you can check out each detail of the saddle yourself.
Friday, July 10, 2009
So there you have it. Of course, any of us are willing and able to help you when you have a question, but we thought it might be nice for you to know who you are communicating with.
Friday, July 3, 2009
This week horsesaddleshop.com heard from Picthall & Gunzi,a UK based children's book publisher. They produce photographic educational books worldwide, for children between 0-10 years. Their books are designed to be educational, to encourage learning, and to be entertaining to children. They are currently designing a horse and pony book called My Horse and PonySticker Activity Book. The person in charge of research for images for this book saw our quality photographs of saddles and tack and asked us to work with them on this project by supplying images. Of course we will! What a great opportunity to use the talent at horsesaddleshop.com to reach into another sphere. The book is currently scheduled to be published in April 2010. We're excited about this opportunity and we're hopeful that the book will be released in the US for many of us who would enjoy giving it to a child we love.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
One of the reasons we get so many return customers around the country is our high standards for our product photos: what you see is what you get. Through many years of improvement, we know how to accurately represent a product on your screen. Our photos are taken by a professional with accurate lighting and a high quality camera.
Often, however, we get new products in before we're able to get a high quality photo shoot for it. So in the meantime, we'll use the manufacturer's picture for the saddle. We love our manufacturers, but most of the time their photographs don't cut it. Hardly ever does the photo do the saddle justice. It's grainy (don't bother zooming in). It's ugly. And the color of the leather is usually terribly wrong.
Recently we got a few beautiful new models from Saddlesmith. Here's Saddlesmith's shot:
There's nothing too terrible about the photo. Most online saddle shops use this photo to sell the product---they don't have the time or resources to improve upon it. And until you order the saddle, you'll be none the wiser. But when I went to replace the photo with our high-quality version, I was shocked. Take a look:It looks like the saddle got a makeover, doesn't it? The top photo looks like some generic, cheap, blah model you could buy off the rack anywhere. But our photo shows off the true quality of Saddlesmith's work---the leather has a beautiful honey hue, unlike the ugly photo, which makes it look like the saddle needs a tan. The stitching is even, the tooling pattern is intricate. And *gasp* you can even zoom in, not to mention the fact that we have three other angles to choose from.
So there you go. You know exactly what you're ordering. No unpleasant surprises. Just the sheer joy of being able to feel the leather and sit your bum in its comfortable seat.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
The saddle market is flooded with cheap Mexican and Indian imports that look good and are priced even better; unfortunately their flaws not only make for a short-lived saddle, but can often lead to a dangerous ride. After rebuilding so many of these cheap saddles for disappointed customers who fell for them in other shops, Dale can spot an imported saddle from ten feet away. Here are the trademarks for the rest of us:
1. Cheap or Imitation Leather:
Many imported or cheaply-made saddles have imitation leather that is usually a vinyl. There is no breaking in imitation leather. You can oil it all night and day; the saddle is going to remain stiff. But what is most shocking to most people who fall for the imported saddle is that many times the bottom layer of “leather” is made out of paper. Yes, you read that right. On a well-made saddle, two layers of leather are used to make the skirt. Many sketchy manufacturers, especially in Mexico, are now using pressed paper in between the top layer of leather and the fleece. This is unidentifiable from the side of the saddle. This material is actually 50-100 sheets of thin paper compressed together, then sewed to the top leather. How safe would you feel if your D ring was resting between leather and paper? How long does the saddle last when what your horse is sweating into is slowly disintegrating? Dale has had customers lose their D ring the first time they cinched up their new saddle.
2. Cheap Trees:Many of these inexpensive imports have trees that are made with sketchy materials. Dale has seen two combinations more than others. The first is a Styrofoam tree that has been dipped in fiberglass. He discovered this while doing repair work and a nail simply would not stay in the tree and was sliding right out. Upon investigation, he found that the tree was made of Styrofoam. This is scary for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, styrofoam can easily warp under pressure. The second combination is a low grade wood covered in plaster of paris, then wrapped in cheesecloth. This doesn’t sound too terrible, until you find that the plaster of paris succumbs to pressure and becomes powder. The more you ride the saddle, the more the tree is slowly disintegrating into a powdery mess.
Because these companies are creating such generic trees, 50 to 60% of horses can’t even fit into them. The measurements are so generic that you’re lucky if it fits when it arrives. These saddles usually fit a large pony or small horse. Why? Because the trees are so cheaply made, the bigger the tree gets, the more likely it is to just fall apart.
3. Bad Hardware:The hardware is made of steel or low grade nickel, which will quickly rust.
4. Thin Fleece:The fleece is so thin you can blow on it to see the cheesecloth underneath.
Our biggest concern over these cheap imports is not that you’re getting ripped off and will probably have to buy another saddle sooner than you planned. It’s that these saddles are usually unsafe. Pressed paper? Styrofoam? Buyer, beware.
Your safest bet in buying a saddle is to know the manufacturer. Where are the saddles made? Ask questions about the materials. Most cheap imports do not have a return policy or a warranty.
A question that usually comes to us after this explanation is What about Dakota? Dakota Saddelry is our lowest priced manufacturer here at the saddle shop and because their prices are so low, some customers jump to the conclusion that Dakota saddles are low quality. Not so! Dakota saddles are just as well-made as our Circle Y and Tuckers, using premium materials and great craftsmanship. The reason why Dakota’s prices are significantly lower is because Dakota does not have a working inventory. All Dakota saddles are custom made to order, which means you’re not paying any overhead. Fortunately, we have a large inventory that Dakota keeps filled for us so that most of the saddles online are ready to order.
Here at HorseSaddleShop.com we pride ourselves on not being the Wal-Mart of saddle shopping. You’re simply not going to be ripped off. All our products pass our standards for high quality, and we keep our prices competitively low. You can buy with confidence knowing that you’re getting saddles and tack that are American made and will pass the test of time.