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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Braided Horsehair Bridle and Reins

 By Dorinda Troutman, RMR Staff Writer

 

August 2013 issue  

 

Collectibles Corner - Braided Horsehair Bridle & Reins

 

This beautiful antique natural black, white and red braided horsehair headstall and reins is unique due to its many decorative hand-engraved and etched buttons and slides, including graduated buttons on the split flat braided reins.

According to the owner Anita Utley, of Will Rogers Saddle Company, in Mead, Washington, the piece was brought in by a customer who said that it had been owned by her father. The store sometimes trades old tack, including collectibles, for new saddles and tack.

Anita says that the set was made in the Canon City, Colorado penitentiary and has the Canon City trademark engraved on the German silver mountings, rein chains and conchos. The unmarked hooded bit is set with large German silver concho cheek pieces.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, cowboy prisoners in Territorial Prisons across the West began making spurs, bits, hitched and braided horsehair items and leather goods in order to pass the time productively and to earn income. They would give the items to family members to sell or auction off, trade them to guards for favors or goods, or sell them in prison shops. Braided and hitched horsehair items are still being made today in prisons.

Old items were often marked with the name of the prison, and sometimes with the inmate’s number. Collectors today can trace back that number to skilled craftsmen inmates – increasing the value of certain pieces.

The bridle set shown here is part of the antique saddle and tack collection in Will Rogers Saddle Company store and is valued at around $2,500.

Each month, Rocky Mountain Rider will feature a Western collectible or antique. If you have an item that you would like featured, please contact RMR at 888-747-1000 or info@rockymountainrider.com.

 

   

Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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Rocky Mountain Rider Magazine • Montana Owned & Operated 
PO Box 995 • Hamilton, MT 59840 • 888-747-1000  •  406-363-4085 • info@rockymountainrider.com