I could probably spend as much time reading facts and looking at images as I do writing the book.
"When men lived in their saddles, the saddles had to be sturdy, comfortable, durable, functional and versatile. The long cattle drives of the 1860's through the 80's pushed saddle development to its limits. The stock saddle had to be adapted to survive over six months of constant use under the harshest conditions and weather extremes without major failure. The saddle had to be built so minor repairs and replacement of worn parts could be done on the trail. You had to be able to fix it with a pocket knife and a rock. These requirements are what developed the stock saddle of the Old West."
Will Ghormley - Maker of Old West Cowboy Leather
Here's some interesting facts (at least to me).
*1885 Steel horns appear. Wood horns would often break from the strain of tying off cattle. Steel replacements started to be used for repairs and then became the norm in new saddle construction.
*1880's Loop seats appear. Square cut outs of the seat reveal tops of the stirrup leathers where they hang over the tree. Allowed for easy cleaning, oiling, and replacement. Popular through 1920.
*1880's Padded seats appear (although not on the rig of any self-respecting working cowboy)
*1890's Saddle swells appear. Originally created by adding a type of bucking rolls around the fork. Later evolved into swells that were incorporated into the fork. Purpose is to prevent the rider's pelvis from slamming against the fork on a bucking horse.
(Click here to read more facts.)
Without a saddle, a cowboy didn't have work, so the saddle maker was a needed profession of the old west.
Here's the description and order link for Gabe's Pledge.
Gabriel Shepard has secretly loved Iva Mae Paulson for years, but has been too shy to court her. But when Iva Mae announces at a New Year's Eve party that her 1887 resolution is to find a groom, Gabe must decide if he's ready to lose her to another man, or step out of his saddle shop to pursue her.
Iva Mae Paulson loves teaching children but after six years, she wants her own family instead. Since her choice of husband won't take the first step, she'll set her own destiny by signing up to become a mail-order bride.
Help and hindrance by family and friends makes this a comical trip down the church aisle for this couple.
The Grooms with Honor series showcases the six sons of Pastor and Kaitlyn Reagan. The family was first featured in the 1873 year-based Brides with Grit series. Besides the Reagan brothers, the series features other men in their community.
"Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, be faithful unto her as long as you both shall live?"
The young men have heard Pastor Reagan say these words to many couples over the years, and they vow to treat all women this way as they walk through life.
Many thanks from the Kansas prairie...