Saddle Making - Kansas Folk Art
Bill Gomer, Master Artist
Arnie Miller, Apprentice
The western saddle is a tool, an item of equipment essential to the work of the cowboy. Through history saddle designs have varied as much as the horsemen who have used them—from the high-fronted and backed jousting saddles of the medieval knight to the flat English hunt saddle to the open-seated American cavalry saddle, to mention a few. The saddle of the American cowboy has also undergone many changes since the post-Civil War trail drives began.
Many skilled saddle makers have worked in Kansas and continue to do so. Sometimes a saddle maker will be associated with a large company, such as the Shipley Company that was located near the stockyard in Kansas City. Sometimes a western store will not only sell but also make saddles. The Shepler's store in Wichita, for instance, employed a saddle maker named Kelly for many years, and John McBeth, former Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association champion saddle bronc rider, offered custom-made saddles at his western store in Burden.
From Celebrate Kansas Folk Arts © KSHS 1993
Entry: Saddle Making - Kansas Folk Art
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: February 2011
Date Modified: May 2012
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.