Welcome to McGowan Livestock and Saddlery
McGowan Saddlery welcomes you to our website. Our goal is to serve you with high quality working saddles on hand made trees built by myself. Our saddles provide a balanced forward seat and are built to fit today's horses. Please do not be fooled by our old-time look. Fit, balance, and comfort for both the horse and rider are just some of the benefits.
We wanted to share with our customers some highlighted thoughts and ideas from notes that I have written over the last 20 years. In today's world the relationship between horse and rider are ever changing. Horseman are striving for a high level of horsemanship often looking to the past, present, and future for methods, disciplines, styles and even quick fix gimmicks to remedy the problem, increase ability and overall performance.
The ideas above may all be good avenues to pursue and apply to our horsemanship and further the education of ourselves and achieve a more advanced level of horsemanship for where any individual may be in their riding and training of horses. I once heard it said, "practice alone does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect." Implying just because you have rode a certain way for many years or have been riding a certain style of saddle for those same years does not necessarily make them correct.
The previous statement is not intended to offend or discredit anyone, the intention is to open our minds and explore some old and new ideas about riding with a balance (equilibrium) between horse and rider which includes our saddle and head gear. I will go into the structural mechanics of the horse and the relationship between the center of gravity of a horse and its rider which includes the saddle and how a proper saddle (which starts with the tree) is imperative to this balance and the horse being able to move freely beneath and in balance with them.
If you are looking for a physical (oneness - in which the horse, saddle and rider are all moving in one motion) unity, balance "equilibrium" through being able to better feel your horse as well as the horse being able to better feel you, a properly built close contact forward balanced saddle will help you. A forward balanced saddle will put you in proper position for a balanced motion with your horse and not behind the horses' motion due to the position your saddle is forcing you to ride in. Do you ever feel you are fighting to get forward and that you are behind the motion of your horse? No matter what level of horsemanship you or your horse are at; You will "feel" the difference in your balance and the relationship between you and your horse and the way both of you move more easily together. These are not new ideas, but I think they have been put aside in the "western working saddle" (also in cutting and arena saddles as well, for that matter). I have spent the last 20 years developing my bars and saddle trees to bring a balanced ride and working saddle back together.
According to Webster's Dictionary (1979), "Equilibrium 1. Any condition in which all acting influences are cancelled by others resulting in a stable, balanced, or unchanging system. 2. A state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced."
Saddle trees, rigging position, saddles and their relationship in regards to horse and rider is one of the most controversial and misunderstood subjects that a person can study in the horse industry, this seems to be the same around the world. Varying opinions make it very difficult to learn and understand. I have studied balance (equilibrium) between horse and rider for 20 plus years now and continue to do so and learn more daily. My study takes place on a horse's back, in my shop and an in depth look into the history of the relationship between horse, rider, saddle (saddle tree) and the jobs they perform. Most of my experience with horses comes from being a working buckaroo, making most of my adult life living from the back of a horse. To further my education and my study of saddles and riding in equilibrium I have also studied horse anatomy, bone, muscle, and mouth structure (bit and bitting affect balance as well), dressage, and other equine disciplines. Although I am no expert in these other disciplines, they are imperative part of this study. In my experience, the main causes of restiveness in horses comes from out of balance riders, ill fitting saddles, headgear (bits) and of course mishandling.
It seems to me that the forward balance seat has been compromised or even lost, I don't care to argue on this point, I've been doing that for too many years, but if you have found our web page, chances are you are already looking for a forward balanced seat in a western saddle. Here at McGowan Saddlery we can help you achieve this goal by continuing to educate ourselves; we would like to pass our knowledge on to our customers. If you are interested in the subject, feel free to contact me, maybe we can visit.
We have built and sold a number of saddle trees for other people, saddle makers and individuals, but we no longer supply anyone with saddle trees. I build tree for our valued saddle customers exclusively. A McGowan saddle will fit the needs of a working cowboy, buckaroo, as well as arena events such as working cowhorse, cowboy dressage, etc... In your travels, you may come across a saddle with one of my trees in it, be careful this does not make it equal to a saddle I have built in our shop, it more than likely a perfectly fine saddle, but to build a proper forward and balanced seat especially in a western saddle, the saddle maker must understand the equilibrium between horse and rider and most importantly how to achieve this with a tree that I've designed and built. There are many fine tree and saddle makers, their trees are quality and work fine, but frankly they are not the same as ours, this does not mean they are wrong, just different. Standard methods used in the industry do not achieve the same bar design or forward seat that I build into my trees. Many of our customers come from a dressage or English background, and appreciate the balanced forward seat our saddles provide them. This is very hard to find in a western saddles.
In putting the information in writing over the years, it is my prayer that myself as well as other horseman may learn from it. "May the Lord open our minds and teach us about the relationship between man and horse both of which for your glory you created." I gave this study to my beloved wife Kate and son's Trey and Conner. This is just the beginning. More information will be coming, as we are working on compiling many years of notes.