Archive for March 2012 | Monthly archive page
I have done work for some fine folks whose names you would recognize (but not many). None are quite as accomplished in the art of living as my Dad. This is Bernie Schwarz (b. 1933) packing the front quarters of my son’s bull off the mountain in 2009. He’s riding a saddle I made about thirty years ago. I also made his saddle bags, chinks, headstall, pack saddle, and pack bags. He still works on a ranch near where this picture was taken…building and repairing fence, irrigating, riding, working cattle, spraying weeds, and cutting firewood. He is a hardworking man with a down-to-earth Christian faith. His humility, kindness and generosity are apparent to all who know him.
In my judgment, Cary Schwarz is the consummate custom saddle-maker. There are others who may say that they are custom saddle-makers, but what they mean is that they do all the work themselves – and build the saddle their way. Cary works with the customer to build a saddle the way the customer desires it to be built (provided the customer is knowledgeable about how a saddle is supposed to fit a a well-conditioned horse and how a horse functions biomechanically). Cary has made three saddles for me. Each one reflects my desired small, but important, changes as well as his advanced skills in building them. I believe that this is because Cary has always remained a student in order to become a better saddle-maker, ever pursuing his quest for absolute perfection whether in function or artistic beauty. His saddles are functionally accurate and make for a happy horse because of their fit as well as being pleasing to the eye with his attention to the smallest detail and his superb carving ability. As an example, with my first saddle, which I took to him for cleaning after the first year of use, I asked him to put a floral design on the seat side of the cantle. I watched in amazement as he free-drew a design and then carved it out – like it was no big deal. I have had other saddles made by “custom saddle-makers” but none match my Cary Schwarz saddles.
Jim Reilly, California