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Tree Makers & Saddlemakers Conflab of 08

Saddle & Treemakers Conflab of 2008

According to one of the more intellectual types who attended not only last years event, but also was in attendance for this years gather. We grew by 300%. So with that, we should all be impressed, we managed to grow by exactly half of what the US debt has grown. Not too bad at all for a second year event.
We had a great time, the weather was very cow-operative, the global warming has not kicked in yet this spring in California and we were Blessed with some wonderful 80 degree sunshine. The gather started at 8am sharp, and officially got underway by 9:15 when the last of the late comers arrived. In typical cowboy fashion, we got started at 8am sharp with a pot of coffee, and drank till we thought we had them all.
A view inside the saddle tree shop at Jeremiah's

The first arrival for the morning hailed all the way from “Illinoise”, and walked in to catch Jeremiah busy in the kitchen attempting to get a scone cooked for the impending onrush of visitors. Not the best way to catch Jeremiah maybe, but the truth is the truth, and if I don’t say it………..well, it will all come out later as a dirty rumor.
Folks slowly rolled in, with our guest speakers arriving last. Guess they didn’t take the SHARP thing as being a SHARP thing. Next year we will commence at 8am BLUNT just for my Aussie friends. The coffee and scone seemed to go over pretty well , giving us all a chance to break the ice and get to know each other.
We started the day with a 10 cent tour of the shops. By the way for those who arrived to this blog late, The conflab was held at Jeremiah’s place up Warthan Canyon in central California, Coalinga is the closest small town. Anyways, we done the shop tours, all of them. I joke with folks that we have something in every “chicken coop on the place”, and they seldom believe me till they drive in the yard and see for them selves. We spent the most time, with obvious reason out in the tree shop, talking and discussing tools, makes, and those most pertinent for a small one man shop. I done my best to convince those in attendance that they would be better off in finding a good tree maker to work with and stick with saddle making. Not sure that was the right thing to say…………enough so, that I think we will be adding a day to this event next year. But we will make the details about that extra day known a little later on.
Dennis Lane in the foreground taking a reading of the horses back, while David Morris watches.

From the tree shop, we moved on out to the barn, where we had a few bales of hay set up on Jeremiah’s new stack of tree shop timber. This gave us all the sensation of being in an auditorium. And still others got that sneezing sensation from the hay.
Down too the actual matters of importance. The morning address was started off by Dennis Lane of Quirindi, NSW, Australia. Dennis and his partner, also from Australia is David Morris. Together, these fellows make up the team that invented the “Equine Back Measuring System” that we are discussing in a major way at this Conflab. Dennis talked till about 10:30, at which time he took a breath. We spent our time discussing the value and the application of the fitting cards. The value is that anyone can own the cards, use the cards to measure and for that matter re-measure their horses. All the information can then be shared with a saddle maker and of course a tree maker later on. The only hitch it seems, is that the saddle maker and tree maker need to become aware of the card fit and how it is used. The application, well that is easy if see the cards. They quite simply transmit real data as far as a 3D shape of the horses back, and those readings are taken in key places that all saddle trees touch on the horses back. It really is that simple.
Dennis and David mounted a tag team saddle tree tutorial act, until we broke for a noon meal. Their time was spent explaining to those in attendance the most important places and junctures to look for in equine conformation when using the horse fitting cards.
LUNCH, always my favorite part of any seminar. That and the NAP that follows. My wife, Colleen, as well as my daughter Nevada had made some Chili and Dutch Oven biscuits while we talked at length out in the barn. I could smell the Dutch Oven at work, and was tempted several times to quit the seminar and head in zombie fashion towards that aroma………it’s a good thing I have will power. I do believe that Colleen was the real hit of the gather……….well, maybe her biscuits. But they were appreciated that I do know.
David Morris, cofounder of the Equine Back Measureing System, takes center stage while Dennis stands back for a moment.

When the small talk subsided, and yawns broke out, it was decided we had best get back to the barn, to the discussion, and to that of saddle tree fit. David and Dennis took the floor once again, and tried to make clear all the points that they had been discussing before we broke for noon lunch. As a point of fact, it was a Socratic gathering of folks who intend to achieve a change, the Equine Back Measuring System offers us an avenue of change in that it opens the door to discussion and sharing of our horses back profiles. The two Aussie D’s. done there level best to assure us that this was not a one world government take over plot, but simply a means of talking in real 3D terms about the horses that we are asked to fit. NO tree maker has to change a thing that he is currently doing, he simply needs first become accustomed to the terms and meanings of the Equine Cards, then cross reference his current saddle tree parameters to see which horses are fit by which correlating card profiles. With that simple task done, he can converse with any saddle maker or customer in real #d terms about his/her horse and what it takes to create a fit.
The relaxed atmosphere of the gathering, gave birth too lively debate and discussion centered on the subject of cooking………..no, sorry. We discussed mostly saddle trees, and the varied means of measuring horses. Over the last few years there have been several noble attempts made to enable us to measure the horse, each falls short of fulfilling what the industry is looking for. With a thorough explanation from David & Dennis, in regards to the Equine Back Measuring System, we all came away with a better understanding and a renewed confidence that we finally had a tool in our arsenal that could be incorporated very easily.
Lunch break under the huge Oak that graces the front yard at Jeremiah's

Around 3pm, it was time for Jeremiah to close the discussions down. There were a few items to be discussed and they were left to Jeremiah to bring to the floor. Now to be sure, what I have been doing for the last 5 plus years, in the measuring of horses backs and gathering information has been good for my conformational understanding of the horse. Like the Aussies, I believe the real, or the best benefit is to come in the long term. The benefit over time is the catalog of horse information that will come from this measuring of the equine form, the many ages, breeds, and conditions that will be encountered can some day be housed in everyone’s computer to be drawn upon like a dictionary of fit. Then there is the subject of conformation and who it is that is ultimately responsible for that conformation or the lack of it. What responsibility do we tree makers have in addressing really bad conformation flaws, and can they indeed be corrected by what we do in the saddle tree. Then there is that subject called conditioning, and the role we play in the equine conditioning program, which is nil, yet it plays a huge role in both fit and function of the final saddle that we are asked to build. Jeremiah walked folks thru the process that he uses in the measuring, but readily admits that his method has flaws in that it cannot be sent to a customer and expect to get reliable information. Jeremiahs goal in measuring is to attain angles from the horses back in those areas that the saddle tree makes constant contact. I like my method says Jeremiah, but I will be the first to admit that I will be switching over to the Equine Back Measuring System, because it is so easily understood and used by my customers.
Jeremiah takes a moment to speak about the methods and the reasons behind the measuering he does.

We closed down the discussion in the barn by 5pm, and moved back to the yard and the coffee pot from which the day had started. We sat till nearly 9pm, talking, discussing and at time relegated to a lively debate on merits and methods of one system or another. In the end it was decided, that fun was had by all who took the time to attend. That those who did attend actually all left a little smarter than when they arrived. And after a thorough check of all the out buildings at 10pm, it was also decided that indeed all who attended had actually left.
Here is a group shot of those who attended the Saddle makers & Tree makers gathering for 2008. Be sure to keep an ear to the ground in order to hear the details of what is to come next year.

The following day after the Conflab, was spent in discussion. We discussed what can be and should be done with the next year gather. We already know that more horses are going to be used. We also talked about adding a day, so that more time could be spent in the actual tree shop and make some of the major areas of the saddle tree better understood, areas such as gullet width, gullet height, and just what is a square tree anyways? If you have ideas, and thoughts about this subject by all means let us know. You will notice that the ability to post a comment here has been shut down, due to all those damned rubber underwear salesmen that spam the *@#%$& out of us. So now because of them, you will have to send the email to me directly .
Hey good night, be well and be Blessed
Jeremiah, caught in the act of doing what some say he does best!

The opinions expressed in the Western Folklife Center's Deep West online journals are those of the online journal participants and not the Western Folklife Center. The Western Folklife Center does not moderate these journals and as such does not guarantee the veracity, reliability or completeness of any information provided in the journals or in any hyperlink appearing within them.

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