Friday, March 4, 2016

The Harley Hackamore: Solved

Oh I had fun with this one!  Credit should go to two people:  Christie Partee, who suggested a couple of tackmakers I should check out; and (drumroll, please:  TAA--DAAAA-!!!)  Carol Williams, who actually made the piece!!

Yes, we found out Who Dun It!  After Christie made her suggestions, I emailed the new suspects with pictures and links.  The original seller had not yet responded to my letter.  (Even so, it was a pleasure using such old handwritten technology; remember, I used it from 1979 to 1997 -- fully 28 years.)  Last Monday I got an answer -- from Rio Rondo!

"... 99% sure..."

That's enough for me.  The Harley Hackamore was made in the late 80s ("I'm thinking [between] 1989... [and] 1991"), which would make it 25 to 27 years old.  Carol made "about 10" of these sets.  She remembered being taught to spin, and owned to making the mecate.  "Many folks including myself didn't necessarily know" how to tie the mecate properly.  She had both painted and stitched floss for interweaves on model tack, but the latter was exceedingly rare:  "maybe only one" made.  Carol made a lot of tack back in the day!  but confessed "I can't even remember it specifically."  She pointed out the longer sections of braid were made from spirally wrapped braided floss, not cut.  These sections don't have cuts in the back, so I was mistaken about that -- sorry.  : (

I've always wanted more Williams tack.  Once Christie had mentioned her names, I wondered why I hadn't seen it.  The solid feel, the strong Western design, the colors, the execution:  everything spoke of Rio Rondo's history.  The Harley Hackamore's maker has been found... and this case is my only (so far) success at the game of Who Dun It.
One out of five ain't bad...

This is my only Williams saddle (at the moment).  Signs of its times include the galvanized steel wire buckles, the tiny metal brads for conchos, the blanket made from "Navajo" material; and most of all (for purposes of identifying the artist's style) the real silver lacing, real rawhide stirrups, handmade silver plates and the turnback design of the breastcollar at the tug rings.  I love the deep seat and solid feel.
 This bit was made by Carol Howard.  Back in those days, the only way to get premade bits was from another hobbyist who specialized in them.  Remember, Rio Rondo as we know it did not open until 1990.  Bits could be got from Sue Rowe of Sojourner Studios (MN) and from Carol Howard (AZ), who always used galvanized metal and solder.  Rare exceptions included homemades and jewelry findings.  (Obviously another blog subject.)  Carol Williams created all the silver plates on this saddle from scratch, and they are engraved too:  a tiny flower is drawn on each one.
Strangely it hadn't occurred to me that the Harley Hackamore could be this old.  >blush<  One of the lessons to be drawn, then, is that some tack stays with its owners for decades, and is only sold around the 20-year point.  The good stuff lasts.  I've found this to be the case with my own (TSII) saddles.
This "CE" saddle, with its cantle plate (which says "STEELE") came with two bridles and matching breastcollars.  Carol Williams had made them both.  In my collection this is the only piece utilizing this particular repeated-knot tie to make braided reins.  Beyond the 1980s charm, these pieces exhibit solid working strength and durability.  To quote Ed Bohlin, they'll "stand the gaff"  (wear).
Closer look:
Thank you Carol for solving this mystery for me.  On to the next success in WHO DUN IT!
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Notes from the TSII bench.
We are deep in digitizing the Guide.  Our Spring Break Florida trip was cancelled, but the summer Colorado one is still on.  I am really hoping the job will be done before we leave.  I sure would like to make tack again.
Future blog post subjects include Blanket Collection 4 (can't keep a good idea down),  the Econlockhatchee River run and a visit with Kathy Moody!
Check out our newly updated Horse Sales page:  Horse Sales

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