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Saddler Sam

If you have any questions email Saddler Sam and he will answer in our next update!

Also availble are signed copies of "The Complete Works of Saddler Sam Volume I" simply email Saddler Sam and he will send you more details.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have a problem with my horse. He is a 14.2 hh bay gelding and he hardly responds to me at all any more, regardless of what I do. I give him all the feed he likes (which he never seems to touch), I give him special treats whenever I see him and I groom him and talk to him constantly.
He just does nothing. I can't even get him saddled up to ride. I'm at my wits end. What do you think his problem is and what can I do about it?
Worried, East Gosford.

Dear Worried,
It's hard to really pin-point your problem and as I am not a vet, my prognosis would be based on guesswork. But given the facts you've told me and remembering similar situations I've faced, I'd say your horse is dead. You didn't say in your letter but my guess is if he's been this way for a while he'd be getting a bit gammy by now. You can fix this by digging a big hole and putting him in it.
I hope this is of help to you.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have run a saddlery store for 22 years and have recently struck a problem. A new riding instructor has begun teaching a number of my customers and is making my life misery. If I didn't know better I'd say she had a stake in a rival business because she is telling her pupils to demand I restock my store to cater for her needs. How can I get her to co-operate and work in with the established trade as would seem sensible. She is quite approachable and very mature for a 17-year-old.
A.C., Brisbane.

Dear A.C.,
Riding instructors are an important part of our industry and, as such, they all have a place in the scheme of things. The instructor you have written to me about has a place to fill and in her case it's in the big hole beside 'Worried' of East Gosford's 14.2 hh bay gelding.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I am a store owner and have recently had a run-in with a rep from a large saddlery wholesaler.
This person was abusive and treated me as though it was a real pain for him to call and see us. He refused to accept some damaged stock for return and accused us of attempting to cheat his company.
He gave us the impression that talking business with us was beneath him, and that he was genuinely bored. He actually told us we should consider ourselves lucky he called at all and, in fact, it was only because our store is near his uncle's home.
As he left he even told us that unless we changed our brand of coffee he wouldn't be back.
What do you recommend we do?
Irate, Bermagui.

Dear Irate,
Recommend for what? I'm not a mind reader. You have to tell me what your problem is before I can give you any advice. Perhaps you don't understand, but this column is for people with real problems arising from situations that aren't part of normal business. If I were you I'd be just hoping his uncle doesn't move.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I am concerned that my boyfriend doesn't love me anymore. All he seems to do is spend as much time as he can with his horses, or riding for as long as possible. I have asked him if he is seeing someone else and, although he says he isn't, I am worried that he is losing interest. I've even tried dressing up as a horse and whinnying to attract his attention. I'm very depressed. What can I do?
CD South Yarra.

Dear CD,
Why on earth are you writing to me ? Do I come across as a caring and compassionate person? - A sort of Dear Del of the saddlery set? I'm sorry but you've pulled the wrong rein confronting me about your personal life. All I can suggest is perhaps you start eating oats and barley in front of him and you might get his attention. Good luck.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have a 15 hand Arab mare who is very lethargic and listless. My riding instructor suggested spelling her for a while, which I did, but it didn't help. My wife suggests giving her some sulphur and molasses. Do you think this would help?
TY Brisbane

Dear TY,
Maybe you get on better with your wife than I do with mine, but I could no more get her to eat sulphur and molasses than fly. Still if she thinks it will help, at least try to make it look appetising and perhaps serve it with some stir fry.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I like spending all my spare time looking after and riding my horses. My problem is my boyfriend thinks I don't love him any more and that I am seeing someone else, and he is getting quite obsessive about it. He once dressed up like a horse and whinnied at me to attract my attention. I'm worried that if I don't do something soon, he could try something that results in physical injury. How can I get him to understand?
DC South Yarra.

Dear DC,
Whoa there, Now just you hang on. I don't know what sort of person you think you are dealing with here, but I didn't come down in the last shower. Your personal problems are of no interest to me but I am sure that if you talk to your friend he'll see reason. By the way, don't be surprised if he starts eating oats and barley.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I am worried about my horse. He is a big strong stallion, but he doesn't seem to be interested in girl-type horses, if you know what I mean. If I had known he was going to be that way inclined I wouldn't have bought him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a homophone (you know someone who doesn't like those kind of people) but I have a reputation to keep up and I wouldn't like to be seen sitting on the back of one of them. What can I do to help him go "straight"?
Bazza, Greystanes.

Dear Bazza,
I don't blame you one bit for worrying about your stallion. Looks like you might have one there with a bit of a limp fetlock. There are a few things you can do. Putting up some posters of mares around his stable walls, taking him to a football game and making sure he understands the rules, or talking to him about car engines are the easiest things to try. See how you go with those tips, but one definite rule to remember, keep him away from steam rooms.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I'm sorry to have to say this but you are a thoughtless and horrid man. My daughter wrote to you about her horse and after reading your reply she has been deeply depressed ever since. In case you don't remember her, she was "Worried" from East Gosford and wrote to you concerning her horse being lethargic and not moving. "Your horse is dead" you told her, "Dig a big hole and put him in it" you told her - as blunt as that! We knew her horse was 'dead' but we were waiting for the right time and way of telling her. In the meantime we had done our best to keep her horse presentable and kept shifts at night watching for rats and blowflies. So what you said in your flippant reply has undone all our good work. I just hope you're happy.
Worried's Mum, East Gosford.

Dear Worried's Mum,
I'm shattered you feel that way, but I'd have assumed your daughter had the intelligence to know the difference between something alive and dead. But after reading her mother's letter, perhaps I overestimated. If that's the way you approach things at your place I'd hate to be around when your husband dies.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I've recently heard about this new class for horses soon to be introduced at horse shows. As well as horse jumping there is going to be the new discipline of horse "leaping". Could you explain what "horse leaping" is and how it is judged?
A. R., Perth.

Dear AR,
Horse leaping is an event that has been devised by combining the skills used in dressage and showjumping. Basically, it involves a horse and rider standing motionless in the centre of an arena and "leaping" straight into the air. The rider must try to remain as still as possible and must not use any artificial means to induce greater leaps. Judges award points for leaping and landing style, steadiness of the horse and rider and, of course, height attained. It requires a great amount of training for a horse to leap into the air without using any aids, but, as with most horse riding, if you practise hard enough it can be achieved. I personally hope it takes off (excuse the pun) because when a class is in progress it's quite a sight.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I was going to ask you about a problem with my local saddlery, but I don't think I'll bother. You can't seem to take anything seriously and your answers are at best flippant. Why can't you be serious and use your column to genuinely help people? G.P. Dandenong.

Dear G.P.
I'll be serious when I get someone writing to me who deserves a serious reply. I mean, have you actually read what some people have asked me?
I had someone who was worried because he thought his horse was homosexual - a serious problem? A couple of months ago I had someone who didn't even know her horse was dead, for gods sake! So don't blame me.
Every month I plough through my mail hoping to find the unthinkable - a sensible letter writer - but as you may have noticed by now, I'm still waiting. The real worry is that I carefully hand pick the most sensible letters, so how would you rate the ones I've thrown out.
Anyway, you'll be happy to know I have a letter this month that is a little closer to what you expect from a column like this.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have just bought a new show bridle and want to look after it properly. I was going to use neatsfoot oil on it but was told it would rot the stitching. Is this true? Penny, Geelong.

Dear Penny,
s

Dear Saddler Sam,
I once read about an unbelievable character from the past and have always wondered if he actually lived and whether what was said was true. His name was Wallace Muldoon and through some work-related accident he lost some of his fingers. Did he really exist? It seems a little hard to swallow but after being encapsulated by your column I thought if anyone would know, you would.
Interested, Sydney.

Dear Interested,
I'm sorry, but I can't really shed any light on your problem. I don't know whether he was real or not. I've spoken to people who swear they have met him, and others who say he was just a figure of someone's twisted imagination. I would like to find out the truth myself so if anyone can help, please write and let both of us know.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have been given a "Do it yourself" saddle-making kit as a birthday present but after reading the instructions I'm still a little confused. I think I'll be able to manage the job once I 've worked out which side of the tree goes to the front.
A friend of mine thinks I don't have the right tools to make a proper saddle. I've got a stanley knife, a reel of cotton and a good strong needle and, according to the instructions, that's all I need.
Am I right or will I need extra tools?
F.I. Blaxland.

Dear F.I.
I will send you a list of the tools and machines you need to do the job properly as, sadly for you, I don't have the room here to enlighten you with a complete list. Nevertheless, I'm going to offer you a sizeable wager. I will give you $1,000 if you can finish that saddle. I will give you an extra $1,000, if, once completed, you actually place that saddle on a horse and ride it around a paddock. And to top it off, I will give you a further $1,000 if when you finish that ride, you or your horse haven't been injured.
I think my money is safe.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I am thinking of buying a horse. I have never owned or ridden one before, but after recent car problems, I've decided I need transport that is reliable and effective. What sort of horse would be suitable for use on busy city streets, could be tied up outside a large building (say a bank), would be certain to go when you wanted and not prop at the sound of sirens closing in from behind?
Nothing like that stupid car your brother-in-law labels "a real beaut, which you need wings to keep up with."
I'm sorry, I seem to have gone on a bit, but with seven to 12 years to think about transport I'm sure you will excuse me.
Bill. Boggo Rd.

Dear Bill,
Reading between the lines I understand what you need. Make sure your horse doesn't have a brand that can be traced, is wearing special racing shoes, will come when you whistle and stand still when you leap on to its back from a second story balcony. Just make sure your bandanna stays around your face and you keep ahead of the posse that's sure to be formed the minute you leave town.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I'm thinking of leaving my husband for good because I've had all I can take. He thinks he knows everything about horses and saddlery, but the truth is he knows almost as little about this as he does about women - virtually nothing! If he just stopped answering questions for a minute, he would probably notice his wife is spending more and more time at her "sick auntie's house," and at times she calls him by another name. This is my last attempt to get through to him and let him know his cynical and sometimes cruel attitude has worn very thin at home, although every thing else has failed, why wouldn't this.
Really Sam, is there any hope?
Mrs S. NSW.

Dear Mrs S,
Well, if that hasn't got through to him nothing will! Some men just don't understand the signals wives send. I really feel I understand your situation because, although she's told not to bother me at work, my wife occasionally corners me at home and says something along the same lines.
Actually, it's quite a coincidence because my wife also has a chronically sick aunty she sees a lot of and every now and again she has accidently called me Jim. But if I worried about every little thing at home I wouldn't have time to help people with real problems.
You can just hope that he eventually understands you in the same way I understand my wife.

Dear Saddler Sam,
My astrologer has told me that within the next two months my force will be perfectly aligned with Saturn and Serius (the dog star). This configuration is perfect for starting a business so I have decided to open a saddlery.
We all play a part in the cosmos and I believe we should all take a holistic approach to riding and horses. Proper use of crystal power and promoting the correct Feng Shui of stables will help any horse to visualise its own "blue" aura.
It's so simple - the rider should be the yin to the horse yan.
I just can't decide whether to call my new shop "Marevoyance" or "The Physchic Psaddlery". What do you think, will it work? As an expert in this area, your good Karma would be very powerful.
Crimson NSW.
P.S. My numerologist says the name Saddler Sam means a kind of thoughtful nature.

Dear Crimson.
Well he was way off the mark wasn't he. I don't know what you are on but I'd stop taking it before you do yourself permanent damage. Wait . . . I'm getting a vision . . . I can see your horse introducing you to aromatherapy . . . Wait . . . there's more . . . Now I see his karma and your aura helping to grow your tomatoes.
I'm sorry pal bur your concept "psounds pstupid".

In response to Laurie Wilkie
You asked me why people are buying saddlery that looks good but is not long lasting and safe? It seems apparent to me that it's because there are fewer people like you involved in the selling of saddlery.
As the Upfront article in the last issue stated, most people just don't know how to tell if something is serviceable, well-made and looks good, or if something just looks good.
Of course we cannot blame the purchaser for not having the knowledge that saddlers acquire during their years at the bench, its just that there are not enough saddlers (or anyone with the knowledge) actually showing horseowners what to look for. I'm afraid this appears to be the best answer.
Twice recently I have had to repair stirrup leathers that were pointed the wrong end and both times I had to explain how they were incorrectly made. So I can sympathise.
Keep up the good fight Laurie.

Dear Sadder Sam,
As I was leaving the gym the other night I was struck by what I consider to be a pretty clever business opportunity. Why not organise an aerobics class for horses? I'm sure there are enough horse owners out there who attend these classes so why shouldn't someone offer the same service, albeit modified, to their four-hooved friends?
I've spoken to a few of my associates in the industry and they agree it could work, but I'd like your expert opinion. Will it work and could you offer any advice on how to best instigate my idea?
Lisa, Box Hill, NSW.

Dear Lisa,
Well, I can see arguments for and against your concept, and its future depends on how you market the idea.
On the positive side is the fact that a horse cannot form a fist which could be used to punch the lights out of the anorexic instructor with a supercilious grin constantly reminding everyone of their physical shortcomings.
Also, there is the plus that a horse would have no understanding or comprehension of music so they could easily put up with listening to 19 Madonna songs in a row without retching.
Against your idea is the problem that any exercises requiring counted movements would be lost on horses, so creating a satisfactory routine will be difficult. One thing though, if you decide to go through with it I'd like first refusal on rights to leotard sales.

Dear Sadder Sam,
I am having a real problem with a number of very bad and unruly children visiting my stables at night and terrifying my horses with a practice they call "flaming."
If you are not familiar with this term it refers to the act of waiting for a horse to pass wind and lighting the gasses (which are quite flammable) with a cigarette lighter as they are expelled from under the horses tail.
The resulting flame shoots for a fair length, is bright enough to be seen from a fair distance and, naturally, scares the horse enough so they move forward very rapidly. I am sick and tired of looking at my stables at night and seeing my horses appearing to be jet-powered. Not to mention their skittishness whenever anyone moves around their rump, or if someone lights a cigarette near them while I am riding. What can I do to stop these awful children?
F.L. Brisbane.

Dear F.L.
Some kids are just naughty aren't they - although I will say they are obviously very patient. In answer to your question, you'll just have to increase security to keep them out. Also cut down on the amount of roughage you feed your horses because you don't want to have your stables damaged, or worse, burnt down.
The flame does shoot a long distance and is very bright with a slightly blueish tinge....so I've been told.

Dear Sadder Sam, I recently read in a magazine where people send in a photocopy of their palm print and then have their future told by a professional palm reader. I wondered if you offered the same service, and on the off chance you do, I have sent a copy of my four-year-old mare's front hoof print for you to have a look at.
I hope you can help because I am going to a very important show at the end of the month and would appreciate any insight you can give me in regards to her future.
Sally, Albury.

Dear Sally,
Thank goodness. I've finally got a serious letter I can really get my teeth into. Now, unfortunately, palmistry hasn't progressed far enough to read hooves but I've used the principles involved in the reading of human hands and have come up with an interesting reading for you.
It seems your horse likes reading, mainly the classics, she is sporty and outgoing and likes dancing to the waltz music of Strauss. She is also going to meet an interesting dark person with the possibility of future marriage followed by travel, probably a train trip.
On the down side, her lifeline shows that she won't reach the age of five. How old did you say she was?

Mrs B, of Grays Point, asks what is the correct number of holes a bridle point should have and where should they buckle?
This is a common question and probably the most straight forward to answer. The headpeice, and cavesson strap should buckle on the fourth hole of seven and the noseband should buckle on the third hole of five.

PG from Adelaide asks if he should buy a new saddle to enter an equipment class or could he use his old one?
Yes PG, you can use an old saddle provided it is in good condition and fits well.

Mary from Bendigo wanted to know how shiny her daughter's boots should be and is there a standard?
Yes there is a standard. Your daughter's boots should be as shiny as your horse's eyes and, if possible, the same colour. Equipment class judges carry with them and use a device known as a 'scale of reflectivity' to measure shine.

BR from Mt Isa had a problem with a judge marking her down because her sister was considered to be standing too close to the class when, in the same class, her friend had an auntie standing the same distance away but was not similarly marked down.
Yes BR, this is correct. The rules for equipment classes clearly state that a blood relative may not stand within 20 metres of the ring. More distant relatives (such as aunties) are allowed to stand within 15 metres and people related by marriage only are permitted to encroach to the 12.5 metre mark.

Garry of Sydney asks whether it is proper for a judge to deduct points for the more subjective area of 'overall appearance' as happened to him when points were taken off his mark for a 'bad haircut'.
Not normally Garry, but if the haircut is noticeably awful it could be considered within their jurisdiction.

WS of Eagle Farm in Brisbane tells me that he is employed in the public service at an upper management level and with bonuses takes home 80K per year. He owns his home, 2 cars, is paying off a unit on the coast and bought a sizeable packet of bridge oil shares soon after the '87 collapse. He asks if he should be able to make sure his daughter can compete in equipment classes effectively?
WS, it's touch and go, but if your finance manager can organise a second mortgage on your family home and you contact your broker to unload the BO shares, your daughter should be able to attend a couple of equipment classes.

Finally, Lisa S from Fremantle in WA asks if I have an answer to her unusual question. She tells me that after having had all her clothing tailor-made and her bridle, saddle and mounts hand made to fit her horse (all at great cost) her horse died. She is wondering that seeing as though she has spent so much time and money to compete in upcoming equipment classes, she should enter herself and carry her gear around the ring.
Well Lisa, you might get some points for your tenacity and courage but please, if you are going to do this, let me know, I could do with a laugh.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I've just about had enough of people bringing me in dirty, smelly rugs to repair. I'm worried the next one that comes through my door will send me over the edge and I won't be able to control myself.
To save me from eventually using a temporary insanity defence in a murder trial, can you suggest a way to get my customers to show at least a little decency and clean their filthy rugs before they bring them in.
Angry Saddler, Newcastle

Dear Angry Saddler,
By the sounds of your letter someone with your temperament is lost on the saddlery trade. Have you thought of the ministry or nursing? Probably not. But to answer your question, I have had good success with the puppy training method; Put the offending rug on the floor, grab the customer by the back of the neck and rub their nose in it.
Then, shake your finger at them saying "You naughty, naughty boy/girl" and throw them and their rug outside. You may upset some customers but by god they'll remember to clean their rugs next time.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have spent the last two months completely redecorating my shop. It's been done up in the old western style, complete with swinging saloon doors, plank floors and an old style bar as a counter.
But there is one thing missing and I'm hoping you can help me locate what I'm after. Do you know where I can purchase an authentic spittoon, and can you suggest someone who could teach my staff and customers how to use it properly? I understand there is an art to it so any help you can give me will be appreciated by me and my cleaner.
Barry G., Queensland

Dear Barry,
Well I've just gone through my phone book and found the ranks of professional spitters are pretty thin. In fact, throughout my career I'm sure I've never come across a single one.

Of course I've met many enthusiastic amateurs who would always be willing to help but you've probably got enough of them up your way already. But Barry, if you are seriously considering putting a glorified bucket in the middle of your newly renovated shop into which people are going to be encouraged to spit, you shouldn't be asking me for advice. Might I suggest Ripley's or Stan Grant or even a psychiatrist!

Dear Saddler Sam,
When I ride my horse I see it as an exercise in domination of my spirit over that of my horse. In achieving this domination I make use of equipment which, to untrained eyes, may be considered harsh but is usually more bark than bite.
I'll admit to using various unusual bits and a number of questionable girthing arrangements, but these should be seen only as psychological reinforcements in my quest for total control. I'll also confess to using 6 cm rowelled spurs but to prove my point I ask you this - "Is there anyone else you know who can start a horse shaking merely by humming a few bars of "I've got these spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle"? After hearing this can you tell me why every time I get to the paddock to saddle up my horse I'm met by an R.S.P.C.A. representative? I'm not trying to hurt my horse, I'm just using techniques that, in days gone by, would be deemed worthy. I feel I know you well enough to ask for your help. I'm sure you understand I seek assertion techniques not tips on cruelty.
T.H., Melbourne

Dear T.H.,
I'm sorry but someone has to say it. You are one of the most disturbed people I have ever had the misfortune to be written to. I'll even go as far as saying you are almost certainly certifiably insane. I advise anyone who knows this person not to let on and to change your phone number immediately.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have been trying to promote a new range of sweets through my local saddleries but just can't get anyone to give them a go. I thought I'd ask your opinion and maybe you can help me publicise my new and novel line.
The sweets are individually wrapped in a great variety of colours and are horse flavoured. It's taken a long time to perfect the taste and I am convinced that given the right marketing they could be a real winner. Can you suggest an angle?
W.W. Braidwood

Dear W.W. ,
Firstly, I have to ask, what the devil does horse taste like? (Don't say "it's a bit like chicken"). To your question, yes the range could work with the right marketing but you will have to handle it delicately. I suggest something tasteful and subtle along the lines of "you've groomed him, you've ridden him and you've rugged him . . . now let's see what he tastes like." It should appeal to the more curious out there.

Dear Saddler Sam, My staff always read your magazine and immediately turn to your column and somehow find it funny. At times I have caught them laughing in the shop at some of the questions and your replies. Well, I'm sorry to say that although I read your column I fail to see the humour. It's not as though I don't have a sense of humour (I'm considered quite a gagster among my friends) it's just that I believe that if someone takes the time to write to you asking your advice they deserve to be treated with some respect and not be ridiculed. We are trying to run a business out here Sam and in case you don't know, it's no joke.
P.O. Sydney.

Dear P.O.
I'm sorry you feel that way P.O., but I really don't try to ridicule anyone who takes the time to write to me, they do a good enough job of that themselves don't you think? Besides, with people like you in control of our shops any attempt at humour would be a waste of time and not conducive to good business. By the way are P.O. your initials or just your state of mind?

Dear Saddler Sam,
I ride a 15hh Arabian mare that has lately become almost impossible to control. She won't respond to any commands and seems to do whatever she likes, occasionally even quite violently. My instructor has a theory that I'd like your opinion on. He contends that Arabian horses are, as a result of the purity of their bloodlines and their ancient origins, still essentially Arabian and consequently cannot understand English. Could this be the case and if so what language should I use to command her? Also, do you think there could be any other historical baggage lurking in her sub conscience?
Esther, Adelaide

Dear Esther,
If there is any knowledge of her nation's history flowing through her veins, with a name like Esther I would be a little worried if I were you. And in what language did your instructor try to converse with your mare to cause such a violent reaction? Yiddish? As for what language to use, try Berber or any of the the Arabic dialects used by the ancient tribes. Maybe show her you are really serious and make a big fuss of her at Christmas!

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have lately become very worried about my horse because he has started doing some fairly silly and downright senseless things. Actions like standing in front of a tree in his paddock and head butting it or urinating in his water trough are now becoming common place. Should I be concerned or is it just a phase he will grow out of?
Jack, Fremantle

Dear Jack,
This is a problem I have helped many people with after the problem is diagnosed and understood as the legitimate problem it is. There is a long medical term for it but basically it boils down to the fact that your horse is stupid. Now, before you go off, it's not the end of world because as I said before your horse can be helped, and with the right support he could lead a normal life once more. There are three books I recommend you buy and read as they will put you straight. The first is "Equine Idiocy Its Causes and Cures" by Barry Walters. The next is the uplifting "From Nutcase to Showcase" by Kerry Sprague this book is the true story of someone who overcame the problems presented by a horse that was completely off with the pixies before recovering to enter local shows. Finally, if neither of these books help I suggest you read "Learn To Love Your Stupid Horse" by Chuck Yates. The book's title is self explanatory and basically is for those who have given up and have to accept their horse as it is. Best of luck.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I've finally had enough of putting up with my bad tempered, uneducated and totally unreasonable horse. I want to get rid of him but I don't want to do it simply. I want to enjoy every minute of it as some sort of recompense for the hours of pain and struggle he put me through. I want to sell or even give him to a veterinary practice with the strict provision that he be used for the purposes of medical experimentation. Could you recommend a suitable vet? I do hope you can because if it all works out, my husband is next.
Carol, Brisbane

Dear Carol,
I am terribly sorry Carol, but I can't condone cruelty to a dumb animal who is probably only trying to do what he's told in an effort to please you and is more than likely just misunderstood. And the same goes for your horse.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have a problem knowing what to do concerning a customer's saddle. He came into my shop looking for a saddle and after working on the sale for about two hours, I finally negotiated a pretty good price. He then told me to hold the saddle for him while he organised the money and that he would be back soon. They were his words, I remember them clearly, "be back soon". My problem now is how long should I hold it for because I believe the word "soon" is subjective, and his "soon" may not be the same as my "soon". In fact, I'm sure it is not, as it has been over three months and as I could have sold the saddle again by now, I'm beginning to wonder how long I should hold it for. What do you think I should do?
Dave, Melbourne.

Dear Dave,
Have you ever though that he may have to work and can't get to your shop in business hours? Maybe if you wait until 10 or 11 o'clock each night he'll call in then. Or better still, the next time you leave something out for the tooth fairy, leave a note saying - "Forget the money, please leave me some brains - I don't seem to have any."

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have discovered that my horse loves music - not all types of music but just the recent stuff that is played on the radio these days. If I am riding with the radio playing she really gets going when something she likes is on, and always it is some new song - it is really noticeable. I believe I am onto something because I feel it is pretty interesting and unusual. What is your opinion?
Sue, Mt Barker.

Dear Sue,
Unusual, Yes. Interesting, No. I say unusual because I can't think of anything released in the 90's that I would classify as music. Maybe your horse is just clever and whenever she hears anything new, runs like hell to escape the noise. Personally, I'm very disappointed that one of my readers considers the stuff churned out nowadays to have any musical content at all. You should have been around during the golden age of music, when there were tunes you could sing along with and rhythms that set your toes tapping from the first drum beat. The days when you could take your best girl to a dance at the "Troc" and swing the night away, just like Mrs Sam and I used to do when she was still plain Miss Sam. I'm sorry Sue, I appear to have rambled a bit - but if you turn your cap around the right way and forget about the radio, your horse will probably thank you faster than you can say "Yo Dude."

Dear Saddler Sam,
I have been spending many hours tossing up whether I should buy a new horse or start a family. I do need a new horse and I really love kids, but to be fair it has to be one or the other.
I just can't make up my mind and as you appear to be a mature person with plenty of life experience I thought I'd ask for your opinion. What should I do?
Margaret, Glenelg.

Dear Margaret,
You are right to give this matter serious thought. Too many people don't realise the commitment needed in both cases.
As for my opinion, there is no question about it, and Mrs Sam is in complete agreement with me.
Think of the hours, days and years of enjoyment you could miss out on. Think of the feeling of having someone love and respect you unconditionally. Think about your state of mind in your twilight years and the hours you'll spend reminiscing about your joyous and fulfilled life. Yes, there really is no question about it go out and buy your horse.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I think I've reached the end of my tether and I just don't think I can take another day of facing customers in my store.
I am not an obsequious person, nor am I understanding and patient. I'm not even what you call a "good listener". But every day I have to be all these things so as to keep my customers happy.
Well I'm sorry to say I can no longer do it. The next person who walks into my shop brandishing a photo of "Biffo, The Wonder Arab" expecting me to 'ooh' and 'aah' will be sorely disappointed because I am going to tell them I don't care about their ****** horse.
Similarly, the next child who offers me a limp foot to try and somehow fit a riding boot on it had better be prepared for the inclusion of some colourful additions to their vocabulary.
Make no mistake Sam, I'm serious and am writing to you now not to seek advice. I'm telling you and your readers that any actions I may take in the future are justified and I firmly believe that working in a saddlery shop could legally be considered "due cause".
Len, South Australia

Dear Len,
Am I being silly or do I detect some anger on your part? I'm usually pretty perceptive about these things and reading between the lines I'd say you are not very happy in your work at the moment.
Why don't you take a break from the saddlery and get a job away from the industry for a while. How about telephone sales? Or for a real change of pace check out your local McDonalds to see if there is part time work available. It should suit you down to the ground.

Dear Saddler Sam,
Howdy Pardner! I was sittin' on my back porch the other day, looking out over my spread and suddenly had a great idea.
I am going to open a dude ranch so city folk can "get on them little dawgies" and do some ridin' and some ropin' and be real cowboys for a short time.
I can get my hands on a cow, my daughter's friend has a pony I can borrow and I've seen City Slickers three times can you think of anything else I need to start up the Triple X Ranch (my new name)?
J.B., Carlton

Dear J.B.,
The first point that strikes me is your address. You live in Carlton, an inner Melbourne suburb. Can I assume the "Triple X" is in fact your house and backyard? And being an inner city backyard, can I also assume that your backyard isn't very big?
Given these assumptions, you had best be careful with your advertising and not give anyone an exaggerated impression of your "ranch".
Then I'd look into getting another cow or better still, a bull and be a little more realistic with your name. How about starting up as "Single X" and working your way up.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I wish to take issue with you regarding one of your replies in last month's column. You said that in your opinion no modern music is any good.
You seem to have forgotten that these days one of our most enduring and popular styles of music continues to offer us tunes and lyrics of wonderful quality and variety. I am of course talking about Country & Western and considering its popularity today I will be very surprised if I am the only correspondent wanting to take you to task for your oversight.
Someone in your position should be doing all you can to promote C&W because after all, it is the sound that talks to country folk. Try listening to "I'm On A Roadtrain To Happiness" or better still, get hold of a copy of "Little Cowgirl, You've Lassooed My Heart" and tell me you aren't touched by lines such as ....
" I used to think life was like a rodeo, And girls, like calves just played a part. But now my roping days are over, Because little cowgirl, you've lassooed my heart."
Give it a go and let's hear your support for all the fans out there.
S.D. Wagga

Dear S.D.
What can I say ! I'll just wipe my eyes and compose myself and perhaps in a year or two I'll be able to fathom the lyrical qualities and subtleties of "Little Cowgirl....."
But until I reach the vegetating state needed to appreciate such a song, I'll be very pleased if there are no Country & Western songs ever written again.

Dear Saddler Sam,
Because you just don't know how to listen, I have decided to write to you one last time. I've told you before, your attitudes toward people and life are at best insensitive but you refuse to change. Well I've had enough. I'm leaving you Sam, and by the time you read this I'll be long gone- not that you'll notice until you get hungry.
Maybe now you will see you are argumentative, cynical, irresponsible and quite frankly, corny.
Goodbye Sam, maybe now you'll take me seriously.
Mrs S, Nullamanna

Dear Mrs S,
Couldn't you have told me to my face and save me the public embarrassment of having you air our marital problems in such a manner?
But now you have done it publicly I will also state that I'm attempting to change and from now on I'll try to be understanding and thoughtful.
Soon you'll see a new Saddler Sam and we'll start again. I will say I was wondering where you were for the last month.

Dear Saddler Sam
Do you believe in reincarnation? The reason I ask is because I'd like your opinion on something that is troubling me.
You see I do believe in it, and it has recently become very apparent that my horse is the reincarnation of Sir Henry Parkes, the father of federation.
He has returned through the presence of my horse to oversee Australia's surge to republicanism.
He seems very determined and it is a constant battle for me to stop him from heading to Canberra. My friends can't sense his spirit living in my horse but I'm sure if you were to agree it is possible they may be convinced.
A.S. Parkes

Dear A.S.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if they choose not to agree with you then consider it their loss.
You sound like a really patient and sensitive person so you are naturally worried about your friend's reaction to your revelations. But believe in yourself, your feelings, believe that Sir Henry is back to help, but most of all believe me when I say I can no longer be nice to someone who thinks a politician, dead for 80 years, is speaking to her through her horse.
The best I can say is that you are probably harmless though quite clearly, a nutcase. I'm sorry Mrs S but I promise I'll try harder to be sensitive next month.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I'm just writing to you to let you know I'm very disappointed that you don't use your column for the sensible purpose that I am sure was it's original intention.
That is, a genuine forum for readers to ask seriously and learn about our industry - not just for letting a bunch of crackpots ask stupid questions only to be given equally stupid answers.
It's a shame that it has degenerated so because it could have been very useful. I for instance, have always wanted to know why hook studs are sewn in on the inside of bridle cheeks and reins but knowing the way you tend to think I wouldn't expect a straight reply so don't bother answering. Believe it or not there are still some people out here who are serious about our trade.
L.G., S. A.

Dear LG,
Those "crackpots" as you call them happen to make up 99 per cent of the people that take the time to contact me.
I'm very sorry you don't appreciate their mental capabilities but at least they get off their backsides and write.
Considering that, all I can do is offer answers and whether you like it or not I will answer your question because someone may find it interesting.
It goes back to times when, in top quality show gear, bits were actually sewn onto bridles and reins.
Eventually horse owners began to ask saddlers for a method of attaching a bit to a bridle that, while retaining the "stitched on" look, could also be undone to change the bit.
The hook stud was eventually devised and sewn inside with just two rows of stitching all that is to be seen on the bottom of cheeks and reins.
So you see LG, I can only respond to the questions asked of me and if I'm asked a sensible one I'll do my best to answer it in a sensible manner. Damn, I think I just lost half my readers.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I just put down this month's (March) copy of Saddlery News and I can't believe what I have just read, is it true your wife left you and wrote to your column letting you know?
If that is the case I want you to know that I think it is one of the most callous and thoughtless acts I've ever seen.
In my opinion your wife doesn't know when she is on to a good thing and if she starts looking around she'll find out the hard way that good men are hard to find.
If, by any chance, you are having trouble finding a shoulder to cry on or a place to stay, I want you to know that you can stay at my house whenever you like.
I've put my address and phone number on the top of this letter and enclosed a photo of myself with my horse (My horse in the one with the saddle on).
Mary, Nunawading

Dear Mary,
After looking at your photo I'm glad you pointed this out. No, just kidding, but thank you very much for your kind offer because yes, Mrs Sam has left me and yes, the first I knew of it was a letter to this column.
So I will keep your photo and address because unless I can get her to see reason I may well be looking for new digs soon.

Dear Saddler Sam,
What do you think of introducing live music into saddlery stores? Not country music - I know what your opinion is of that - but songs written expressly for workers in my shop to sing for customers.
I've penned a few simple songs which staff sing in chorus to customers as they decide whether or not to spend. For example, if someone is contemplating the purchase of a saddle my staff will sidle up and sing a few bars of "Saddle Be The Day". Or if someone is having trouble deciding to buy a new oilskin, a few gently hummed bars of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", could very well push the sale through.
We've tried it a couple of times and I think it works but my staff are not happy about it. What do you think? Can you help me get my workers to show more enthusiasm?
Col, Victoria

Dear Col,
Enthusiasm for what? For being made to look stupid? I can't for the life of me see why your staff don't break into your wonderful songs with gusto. Maybe it's because you are an idiot.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I just thought I'd write to tell you how much I enjoyed my visit to the recent AETA Trade Fair.
It has become an annual tradition for me to trek to Randwick to see the new products, put faces to the names and generally get the "feel" of our industry as a whole.
But this year meeting you was a real bonus and for you to not only sign my catalogue but to actually take the time to seem genuinely interested in my small part of the world was the highlight of my trip to Sydney.
So I thank you for making my visit so memorable and would like to go on record as saying the Trade Fair is now a tradition that we should all embrace and the phrase "see you next year, same time, same place" should be on everyone's lips as they wind their way home.
P.L., Victoria

Dear P.L.,
Thank you for your kind words and let me thank all the people who visited me at the Trade Fair offering kind words and numerous articles of all shapes and sizes to sign.
But P.L., you really hit the nail on the head when you used the word "tradition". It is very important that we have an institution we can rely on each year for our buying regime.
We know where it will be and more importantly when it will be on. We are very lucky to have an Association that is run for the benefit of everyone and isn't constantly changed at the whim of self-seeking individuals pushing their own barrow.

Dear Saddler Sam,
Can you please advise me of the best way to tackle a problem I'm having with my boss. I work in a large saddlery store and have brought my dog to work with me since he was a puppy, so he is practically a member of staff.
As he has got bigger his temperament has changed a little and lately he has nipped a couple of children who were annoying him. My boss banned him from the shop, just because a few kids don't know how to behave towards a playful doberman. Well 14 kids to be exact, but five of them didn't require stitches and most of them were old enough to know better than to disturb Attila while he played with his fluffy toy.
I'm seriously considering telling my boss that Attila stays or I go but thought I'd ask your opinion before I undo his leash.
Kylie, Avalon, NSW

Dear Kylie,
Attila sounds like a lovely little puppy doesn't he. A real pussycat that wouldn't hurt a fly, right? Wrong.
I would say that young Attila is a threat to many people living around your suburb, if not the entire northern beaches of Sydney. Why don't you just lock him up tight, throw him some small game of a morning and everyone will be better off.

Dear Saddler Sam,
I really hope I don't see this letter printed in your column, because if it is it means your jottings are still coming out every month - and that I find very hard to take.
Haven't you taken the hint by now! Almost every month someone writes to you expressing their dislike for you in some way and most times you end up telling them off.
But still every month I see your column. I'd have thought last month's reader survey would have been the last straw and you would have finally packed up your outdated and ludicrous ideas and gone.
If you are still writing and this letter is printed I call to all you others out there who feel as I do - write to this man and try to stop him. Sam, you are silly, unfunny, misogynistic and trite. Maybe now I have got through to you.
Mary S., NSW

Dear Mary S.,
Do you know this is a question and answer column? It is meant to be used by people who have problems and questions in regard to our industry to get some advice.
It is not a forum for people like you to use to berate and belittle me.
In regard to the reader survey, yes, I did read the results so just to spite you and all your friends I've printed your letter and will continue this column for as long as I like.
And by the way, I know your handwriting mum, please don't write to me at work again.

If you have any questions email Saddler Sam and he will answer in our next update! Also availble are signed copies of "The Complete Works of Saddler Sam Volume I" simply email Saddler Sam and he will send you more details.

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