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December 23, 2012: Trip Sponsorship

I’ve never been good at asking people for things, money or otherwise. It just isn’t the way I operate. I also developed an aversion to this as a child. As a kid, I sold flowers on a street corner and door-to-door in order to play for a much-wanted pair of blue jeans. They were Levis, and then cost $5.00 a pair. The street corner flowers were provided by a local huckster – I was paid a commission for what I sold. The door-door flowers came from a neighbor’s bushes. I did not have the entrepreneurial spirit. I hated doing this – I absolutely hated it. And I wasn’t any good at it.

It's not all work around here

However, others were good at it. I remember hanging out on a street corner in downtown Rochester, NY where I supposedly grew up. A friend stopped by and said that she’d take a certain percentage of the profits if I allowed her to help out. I said sure. Rachel was in appearance and manner, much like Janice Joplin. In other words, she had red hair, and big mouth. I watched open mouthed as she yelled out, at the top of her lungs “Red hot roses, Five dollars a dozen.” I wasn’t selling roses, but it didn’t matter. People stopped and purchased what I had in my bucket. I was mortified, but managed to sell what I had before me in fifteen minutes. Rachel (of course) told my mother about our accomplishment, and my mother passed this on to immediate family members. One was my younger cousin came up with the refrain “I’m baby Alys, you wanna buy some flowers??” Heck, bringing this back to mind has caused that once familiar knot to again reform in my stomach.

Pete and I have both done some amazing bicycling and sea kayaking trips, but it never crossed my mind to seek sponsorship for any of them. After, I wrote about some; then I approached editors about running my articles. Even this hasn’t come easily to me. I did write and publish a few articles about Part I of Tolting the Divide. I probably could have done more. Now Part II is beginning to take shape. Last night I realized that we won’t be able to do this if we have to both pay for trip expenses and two new saddles. And we’re not going unless we have proper fitting gear for our horses. That’s the most important thing of all. I’ve since gotten more practiced at asking people to support my endeavors. I’ve let many family members and friends know about Raudi’s Story and yesterday’s Frontiersman article. And I’ll soon let them know about the next book, entitled Raising Raudi: A Returning Rider’s Search for the Perfect Trail Horse.

I have done considerable research on the subject of saddle fit. Pam Nolf, who is also on the Icelandic Horse Quarterly was a catalyst for this. She actually did most of the legwork in looking for proper fitting saddles for her gelding Blessi. Her source information included Synergist Saddles. I looked them up and shared their website information with Pete. What they had to say – that they are adept at custom making saddles for hard to fit horses – interested us enough in that I contacted their office, and requested their promotional DVD.

The DVD came quickly. It also included a Life is Good decal and some popping corn. We watched the DVD and learned that the company (which is located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Curt Gowdy Drive) was started out of John De Pietra’s frustration in not being able to get all the features he saw as being important in a saddle. In 2002, the business was handed down to his son Dave De Pietra, his wife CJ, and his son and daughter-in-law. Their son and daughter, Art and Jen, and CJ’s sister Sharon also contribute on a part-time basis. Tom Good, who is a master leather man, joined the team in 1994. He’s now referred to as Uncle Tom.

As I understood it, the company members work with customers to design saddles that fit both the rider and the horse. Central to this is the Equimeasure form, a fitted pad that enables the horse owner to make a mold of the horse’s back, which is serves as a template of the horses’ back when they make the saddle’s tree. This, Dave says, provides more information than does a withers tracing. (The withers tracing provides a measurement of the horses’ withers, but not the rest of the back.)

After watching the video, Pete and I talked about the particulars of it, and of what Synergist offers in the way of saddles. I don’t mean talked for say 15 minutes, but altogether for a few hours. The bottom line was: we would not be able to order saddles until next fall. My heart fell upon hearing this because the unspoken words were that we would not be able to do our trip.

I gave the matter some thought, then began mulling over the idea about approaching Synergist Saddles about sponsorship. Pete, when I told him about this said “they can only say no.” So I decided to do this. I said in my message that in exchange for sponsorship, that we’d let people know about the company and their project. I also said that I’d write about the saddle fitting transaction, beginning with the equimeasure fitting, both in dispatches and on Raudi’s Facebook page.

CJ got back to me really quickly, and said that the company could offer us partial sponsorship. This seemed more than fair to Pete and me. I will pay for the remainder of the saddle cost by substitute teaching.

I feel like by approaching Synergist that I have begun moving forward. It was cold out today, and a bit less windy than yesterday. I rode, and wore my Steiger mukluks. The Bog boots keep my feet warm. But it feels when I’m wearing the Steiger Mukluks like I have foot warmers in them. I rode Raudi today. She was chipper, alert, and attentive. But she would not trot. It was like she just isn’t able to do it. It’s frustrating, but I am again thinking that the issue may partly be related to saddle fit. I also rode Signy. She was also chipper, alert, and attentive. And she did trot. I cannot describe how wonderful it was – it was quite cold out, but she flew along at a very steady pace. Both she and I were one with one another. I would again like for Raudi and I to experience this. Perhaps a Synergist saddle will be the ticket.

Next: 377. 12/24/12: Christmas Eve