Tack

Saddle and Stirrup

 

Saddle and Stirrup

Saddle and Stirrup

Historically, the birth of art might be thought of as the moment that human thought moved beyond the need for simple pragmatic use of an object, the instant that humankind realized beauty was a function unto itself. We’ve debated its meaning and limits ever since, but one thing is clear: we need art.

A simple look at the American saddle, with its intricate patterns, scrollwork, textures, lines, and shadows reminds us that even in the most sparse and the most rural conditions, the human mind still turns to decoration, to beauty, to the aesthetic. So while it serves as an icon or symbol of the West, the saddle retains a personal and separate set of connotations for the American ranch hand.

Quirt and Saddle

Saddle and Quirt

Quirt and Saddle

Textures are an important part of Western culture: metal against leather, denim against hide, felt against ribbon. Heidi Reissland is one of Nebraska’s best barrel racers (and also my sister), and kindly she lent me one of her saddles and quirt to explore some of those textual relationships.