Archive for October 2013 | Monthly archive page
A number of years back, my friend Pete Gorrell (a veteran saddlemaker now living in Colorado) showed me how he shims his stirrup treads. I add one thick layer of skirting leather to the inside tread of the stirrup, which is the side nearest the horse. As the stirrup leathers drape around the barrel of the horse, the inside of the tread will be lower than the outside. One might think that your leg would drape the same way, but the difference is that our leg articulates at the joints. This creates a situation where there is nearly a straight line from the knee to the sole of the foot with the bottom of the foot fairly plumb with the ground. The idea of the shim is to create an even distribution of pressure in the tread. I’ve ridden with shims in my stirrups for quite a few years and find that my feet and joints are more balanced and comfortable. My customers report similar feedback. The theory holds that if a person is pronate, (that is, slightly bow-legged) this will be helpful. If the rider is supinate, (that is, knock-kneed) this could make the rider more uncomfortable than not doing anything at all with the treads. This is something that is changeable if ever the need arises. Riders can experiment with swapping the stirrups around so that the shim is on the outside of the tread for the sake of comparison.
In the morning I’ll head for Oklahoma City for a weekend celebration of the West. It will be my fifteenth trip to the National Cowboy Museum. We began this wild ride we call the TCAA in 1998…little did we know just where it all would lead. There has been many great opportunities that have come my way as a result of my involvement with this group of craftsmen/artists. I remember a number of years ago when Dale Harwood complimented me on my improvement…a rare affirmation from one of the best! Yet there is still ample room for more improvement. I relish the challenge and look forward to the days ahead with the same excitement I had when I began over thirty years ago, only now with much more experience!
We’re days away from our annual event at the National Cowboy Museum called ‘Cowboy Crossings’. It is a joint exhibit and sale featuring the work of the Cowboy Artists of America and the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. It’s a great weekend of learning, growing as artists/craftsmen, and oh yes…a little socializing. It has become a reunion of sorts in a magnificent venue. The participating artists, their families, collectors, and otherwise admirers of the work get together once a year to celebrate our Western Heritage.