Back in the Saddle

After the 2012 release of his newest CD, “Back in the Saddle,” country music singer-songwriter Chris Cagle talks of his horseback-riding history.

From America’s Horse

Editor’s Note: America’s Horse first featured country music singer-songwriter Chris Cagle in 2005, when his first CD was hitting the charts. At the time, he told tales of writing songs in his head while “scooping poop” at his horse trainer’s barn. With the release of his sixth CD in 2012, Chris really is “Back in the Saddle.”

These days, you don’t have many conversations with Chris Cagle that aren’t punctuated by his yawns. It’s understandable: If you were promoting a new CD, hitting the concert road and making time for your wife and three little girls, as well as your horses, you’d be yawning, too.

A perfect example is one weekend in mid-June 2012 when Chris and his entourage went from Oklahoma to Houston to California then back home to his ranch in Oklahoma, all within a span of 48 hours. But ask Chris, and he’ll tell you it’s great to be “Back in the Saddle,” which also happens to be the title of his newest CD.

“I’m not complainin’,” says the AQHA life member, who lists family, ranch and music as his life priorities. “This tour is more physical than anything I’ve ever done.”

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Born in DeRidder, Louisiana, Chris headed to Nashville and was signed to a record deal in 2000. Some of his first hits include “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out,” “Chicks Dig It,” “What Kinda Gone” and “Miss Me, Baby.” The first release from his new CD is “I Got My Country On,” and it quickly climbed the charts. Chris co-wrote five of the tracks on the CD, including “Dance, Baby, Dance” and “Southern Girl.”

What’s unique and eye-catching about Chris’ new CD is the cover: a watercolor of Chris aboard his cutting horse, Santana Times Two, a 1999 sorrel gelding by Short Of Santana and out of Rosanna San Tanna by Pep It San, bred by Ginger Ann Gilbert Winkler of Wichita Falls, Texas. Santana Times Two placed third in the open senior cutting at the 2005 AQHA World Championship Show.

Chris loves his cutting horses, but at first he wasn’t sold on the idea of using one of his own as the basis for his CD cover.

“I was talking to the guys about going back to the ’70s and ’80s vintage-vinyl-type cover that was actual art,” Chris says. “It was Mike Powers who actually came up with the idea. I’m a little worried that people may misinterpret my use of horses on my CD cover, thinking that they’re more important than my music.”

But judging by the amount of positive feedback on Chris’ cover when we posted it on AQHA’s Facebook page, he really doesn’t have anything to worry about.

“The horses provide a tremendous amount of balance for me,” he says. “I can’t focus on horses and music at the same time; they both require singular focus. I wish I could have an equal amount of time with both, but I don’t and that’s OK right now. I suppose come January when the tour winds down, I’ll be back on the horses.”

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Chris’ reach in the horse world also extends to therapeutic riding.

“One Christmas, Scott Hendricks, who signed me to my first record deal, donated money in my name to the Saddle Up therapeutic riding facility,” Chris says. “I asked him about Saddle Up, and he suggested we pay the facility a visit.”

So, Chris went to see how horses help kids and adults with balance, range of motion and their emotions. Then, he decided to do some concerts as fundraisers for the facility.

Saddle Up of Nashville is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, an AQHA alliance partner.

“Seeing a child with a horse and seeing that child touch the horse and then smell her hand,” Chris says, “that’s exactly what I do! I come in the house from working with my horses, and I’ll smell my hand because I love the scent of a horse. Saddle Up is a great thing and organization. It moved me.”