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Film, Video Saddle Rigging and the Latigo Knot

About this Item


  • Saddle Rigging and the Latigo Knot


  • Stewart, Leslie J. (Narrator)
  • Marshall, Howard W. (Interviewer)
  • Gastañaga, Linda (Interviewer)
  • Ahlborn, Richard E. (Narrator)

Created / Published

  • July 25, 1978


  • -  Artifacts
  • -  Ninety-Six Ranch
  • -  Saddlery
  • -  Saddle rigging
  • -  Latigo knots
  • -  Ethnography
  • -  Motion Pictures


  • Ethnography
  • Motion Pictures


  • -  Richard Ahlborn interviews Les Stewart on the topic of saddle rigging and the knot used to tie the saddle's latigo to the cinch.
  • -  In 1978, Dick Ahlborn interviewed Les about cowboy gear and tools. Ahlborn videotaped about forty minutes of their discussion. His fieldnotes for July 25 state:
  • -  This material . . . has given me an idea for an exhibition. I discussed it with HM (Howard Marshall, and hopefully we. . . could organize a small but meaningful show in 1979 or 80 on `Daily Life in Paradise."
  • -  Several of the artifacts and much of the information from this interview were incorporated in the 1980 "Buckaroos in Paradise" exhibition at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History.
  • -  Les uses his son's saddle for this discussion of the "center-fire," single-cinch rig and the latigo knot. The former feature is characteristic of the region's preferred type of saddle, while the latter represents Les's relatively more personal preference for securing the saddle. The backbone of a saddle is its tree, which is held in place on the horse's back by the rigging straps. The latigo ties the rigging straps to the cinch.
  • -  Cowboys in the California/Northern Great Basin region prefer a single-cinch saddle. If the cinch were located below the exact midpoint between forks and cantle, the saddle would be a pure center-fire rig. Les, like most buckaroos, likes to have the cinch a little forward; his is five-eighths of the distance forward of the cantle. He calls it a "five-eighths center-fire" rig. One might also hear the saddle called simply a "five-eighths rig." (See Marshall and Ahlborn 1980, 56; Mora 1946, 97 and 103; and Ward 1958, 207-219.)
  • -  This video clip's second topic is the knot Les uses to tie the saddle's latigo to the cinch. His variant is a little unorthodox, and many cowboys would prefer the alternate knot he demonstrates.
  • -  Fred obtained his saddle from the J.M. Capriola Company in Elko, Nevada, about 1975. It is an "A-fork" design built on an improved Weatherly tree. This is a "slick-fork" type, in which the pommel does not swell out, and it represents another regional preference. A swelled pommel can help a rider keep his seat; some slick-fork saddles have bucking rolls added to serve this purpose. Les's favorite personal saddle, made by the Hamley Company in Oregon in the late 1940s, is very similar. Both saddles include straps to which a flank cinch can be attached. Les says this conversion to a double rig is essential when he ropes calves in a rodeo or team-roping event.
  • -  The center-fire, slick-fork saddle was developed in Visalia, California, in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. One important craftsman was David E. Walker, although many other makers and users contributed to the design. A history of the Visalia stock or "Walker roper" saddle may be found in Lee Rice and Glenn Vernam's They Saddled the West (Rice and Vernam 1975, 53-62).


  • 3/4 inch video

Call Number/Physical Location

  • AFC 1991/021: NV78-VT8

Source Collection

  • Paradise Valley Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1991/021)


  • American Folklife Center

Digital Id

Online Format

  • video

Rights & Access

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Credit line

Paradise Valley Folklife Project collection, 1978-1982 (AFC 1991/021), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Stewart, Leslie J, Howard W Marshall, Linda Gastañaga, and Richard E Ahlborn. Saddle Rigging and the Latigo Knot. 1978. Video.

APA citation style:

Stewart, L. J., Marshall, H. W., Gastañaga, L. & Ahlborn, R. E. (1978) Saddle Rigging and the Latigo Knot. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Stewart, Leslie J, et al. Saddle Rigging and the Latigo Knot. 1978. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.