I remember my first new saddle I ever had. Yes, I have a saddle story. Most guys my age have car stories but that's not me, I have a saddle story.<br />n<br />nMy dad bought my sister and I brand new, never before used saddles for Christmas in 1971. Oh were we proud of those saddles. They were shiny and new, with padded seats and we really were in love with them. My sister kept hers in the house to keep it clean, if I remember right, but I wanted mine out in the barn where the working men kept their saddles.<br />n<br />nNow you have to remember, I was in school at this time and there was no bus service to the ranch area so you had to move to town to go to school, no choice. I lived in town with mom during the school year so I didn't spend much time at the ranch so I didn't get much of a chance to use my new saddle. Now I am sure I used my saddle a few times by the time of our branding that year but I don't remember for sure.<br />n<br />nWhat I do remember is our branding. June 1972. At this time my dad was branding the cattle in two bunches. The one big bunch we did in the morning and after dinner we went up and rode on the mountain and gathered the ones there and branded them. This is the bunch that he was breeding special to build his herd and are the ancestors of the cows I am running on the ranch today. We gathered this bunch and got them in the corral when along came a dark old cloud and started pouring rain on us.<br />n<br />nThere was only a couple of vehicles there to get out of the rain so most of us crawled under the two ton truck and sat there to get out of the rain. It was really raining out now. Like a cow pissin on a flat rock is how you would describe the kind of rain around here. Within a couple of minutes we couldn't sit under the truck as there was water coming in. Now this was on a flat spot, as flat as it gets around here, and the water was building up under the truck it was pouring so hard. I can remember squatting under this truck, water to my ankles, looking out at my saddle worrying about it getting wet. Not my horse getting wet, me getting wet or anybody else, just my saddle getting soaked and I had barely rode it yet.<br />n<br />nIt quit raining after about 30 minutes. There was water standing all over the place and it was slick and muddy. We had to not brand that bunch as it was too wet but I remember this storm for two reasons. One, my poor saddle got soaked and I had to ride the wet thing home and the second thing was the <a href="">Rapid City flood</a>. The storm system that dumped so much water on us was the same storm system that caused the dam to break near Rapid City and cause such devastation. <br />n<br />nThe saddle didn't get hurt with the water, just the other things involved with it cause me to remember the situation. Used the saddle the rest of the summer no problem and then school started again. Trek to town to live there and again, not much contact with the ranch. One day before shipping, Dad comes in with some real bad news. The barn burnt down. To this day we are not sure how it happened but the barn burnt down and nothing was left. This included the shop and all the tools, calving and farrowing facilities, my dad was raising hogs then, and the tack room and all the saddles and horse equipment. Yes, I hadn't even had my saddle for a year and now it was gone. I was heart broken.<br />n<br />nThe only saddle that survived this incident was, you guessed it, my sisters new saddle since she kept it in the house. Did she have a premonition or what? My Dad commenced to using my sisters saddle while he was getting a new one. He ordered one from a saddle maker in Sheridan and it took a few months to get. I eventually got an old used saddle to use as my dad replaced the tack equipment that was destroyed. After I got out of the Navy, I got me another new saddle custom built and so I finally got another new saddle. The used replacement saddle I used for so many years My oldest now rides and my youngest girl rides my sisters saddle that is still hanging around here in good shape. Someday my sister will probably want it back but at the moment she doesn't have much use for it so my girl gets to use it.<br />n<br />nOne coincidental thing about my dads new saddle from this incident. When the maker had finished building it down in Sheridan, he spotted a guy working for a neighbor here and gave it to him to deliver to my Dad. This guy happened to be in Sheridan and the maker knew it would get to my dad sooner this way so sent it with him. This guy, who worked for a neighbor, is my hired hand today. He vividly remembers bringing the saddle to dad. Kind of a small world isn't it. I know, not much of a story overall today but that's what I have.



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