I strongly believe the North American stock saddle to be an enduring example of fuctional art, and more specifically, an example of fine western art. My personal favorite is the half seat saddle of the 1870s as built by such men as E.L. Gallatin in Denver, Frank Meanea in Cheyenne, and the Collins Brothers in Omaha. Their work has been handed down and preserved through the generations and I've had the opportunity to see many fine examples of their work. At some point I began to wonder if '"newer is better" and decided to build one for myself to satisfy this curiosity about the evolution of the stock saddle. Were these "old timers" technically outmoded? Were there any still practical, useable elements of their style and construction? Was there any commercial value? Well, I've been riding this style of saddle ever since and find them to be quite practical and very comfortable, both for the rider and the horse, under any and all conditions.
I learned the art of making saddles with Bill Long in Spokane, Wa. Bill and I had a common interest in the history of the old West, and he shared wealth of knowledge about early saddle styles and their construction, from the Santa Fe to the plastic saddles of the 1950s.
For my 1870s and 1880s saddle saddles, I use the H.Y.A. Slick Fork tree. It is a correctly styled early slick fork tree built on semi-Quarter Horse bars. For the 1890s and later saddles I use the Old Time Slick Fork tree (patterned after the Visalia 3B), also in the semi-Quarter Horse configuration. .
Various features of these early slick fork tree styles contribute to rider comfort, ease of use, and less stress on your horse. Narrow fork, less weight. The rider is able to ride a shorter seat, because of non-interferrence with the fork. Instead of being forced ( by a wide swelled fork) to the far rear of seat where its the widest, you sit in the center of the seat, at the most narrow point. Shorter seat, less weight. Less weight, easier to saddle up, less load for the horse. California twist on the stirrup leathers eases stress on knees and ankles. Sitting at the narrowest point of seat eases stress on hip joints. And last, but not least, conscientious care in building the ground seat, the very foundation for the fit, feel, and comfort of any saddle. So there's no smoke, no mirrors, no spring loaded gimmicks, no fibreglass or plastic widgets. What I offer is a traditional saddle, made with traditional materials and constructed using traditional methods. This concept, combined with attention to detail, produces a unique and durable product of timeless style and lasting beauty.
For the horse, the H.Y.A. Slick Fork and the Old Time Slick Fork, both made by Ritter Saddle Tree Co. in the semi-Quarter Horse configuration will fit varing degrees of conformation using different pad/blanket combinations. The shorter seat advantage of the slick fork puts you closer over the horses center of balance....less work for the horse.
No single tree will fit every horse type. I offer the semi-Qtr Horse as my standard, of course other configurations are available if you have a horse with other considerations.
If you are looking for a saddle, and just dont know what is available, or what you need, or even what you want, and would like to discuss options, or ask questions please feel free to call or e-mail.
Please understand that I cannot be held responsible for accidents that may occur while using my products and equipment.
If you have gotten this far, I would like to state that the opinions and views expressed are my own, based on my observations and experience. And with that.........I thank you for attention and consideration,
Dave Matteson, Maker
|Due to irresponsible, unsupervised children who have hacked my one click email/inquiry link
I have removed it. For those wishing to email us please use [ dave 'at' saddlemaker 'dot' com]
substituting @ for the 'at' and . for the 'dot' . And a tip of the ol' hat to absent parents and
the public school system that cranks them out.
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