Well, we survived. The Rally, that is! Luckily I didn’t have to go to Sturgis so didn’t have to fight traffic. Hope you enjoyed it!
The boss man of the paper I write short stories for, suggested that I write some articles on saddle making. So here is my attempt and I well post them on here also.
The western style saddle as we now know it, has been developing since the time that Spaniards first came over here to Mexico. It was their war saddle they rode and as they and their followers moved north into California and Texas it was adapted over time into what we see today.
The first thing they figured out was that if they put a saddle horn in front it was pretty handy to hang things on. And then some dang fool figured out you could tie a rope to it and move things. Can you imagine the first person on his little horse to rope a big bull and what happened when the rope came tight! Wow! I bet Dobbin wasn’t quite prepared for that!
The western saddles you see now have been refined into two basic categories. Slick forks and swell forks. The first type of saddle that came north with the cattle drives out of Texas, had a saddle horn on top of a fork with no bulges. Just kind of widened out and sloped down to the bars of the saddle tree. At some point, I am thinking the late 1800’s from what I can find out, somebody decided to add swelling at the bottom part of the fork of the tree, so they could use those bulges to keep a better purchase in the seat. Before that, they would tie a slicker or something similar to up there to lean into and help them ride when a horse objected to them being on their back.
Again, there were many attempts to improve that fork, both in slick forks and swell forks. To this day you can get a good argument going as to which is better, slick or swelled, at any gathering of cowboys, ranchers or buckaroos. Both have advantages and both have disadvantages. I have riden both, quite a few miles and have my preference. For those who don’t know me and know my particular leanings, you can go to my Facebook page and see the latest photo of my latest saddle I built and get a pretty good idea.
I started building saddles many years ago because I wanted to try a different style and seeing as I already had bought a custom made swellfork style saddle from the late Jerry Croft, my wife objected to me spending the money for another saddle. As she said, if I recall, “Heck, you can only ride one at a time, why do you need two?!!!” That is the typical female logic that keeps many cowboys from owning more than one! And I tell you, that don’t help my saddle making business very much!
So I found a used one similar to what I wanted and swapped an older saddle I had for it. Then I went to carving , adding and cutting off different parts of the saddle to get what I wanted. I can guarantee it would have been much cheaper in the long run to have just ordered another saddle of the type I wanted, as after you get to building something, you start wanting more of the specialized tools that are used to build saddles. So, the jokes on her, as we would have much more money now, if she had just let me get the saddle like I wanted!
Next week I will delve into this subject deeper and try and explain some of what goes into making one.
Have a good week and go kill some grasshoppers!!!!