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Film, Video Trimming Rawhide Strands with a Gauger

About this Item


  • Trimming Rawhide Strands with a Gauger


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

Created / Published

  • July 25, 1978


  • -  Artifacts
  • -  Ninety-Six Ranch
  • -  Lariats
  • -  Riatas
  • -  Horse gear
  • -  Ethnography
  • -  Motion Pictures


  • Ethnography
  • Motion Pictures


  • -  Richard Ahlborn interviews Les Stewart while he demonstrates how to trim rawhide for braiding to make riatas, or lariats, or horse gear.
  • -  One section of Dick Ahlborn's interview was taken up with techniques for braiding rawhide and a look at some of the gear made from this material. In years past, rawhide was braided to make riatas, or lariats, and more finely crafted horse gear, like the bosal and headstall used in a hackamore. (The standard work on rawhide braiding is Bruce Grant's Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding, 1972.) The exhibition "Buckaroos in Paradise" included a pair of leather-trimming gaugers used to prepare rawhide strands for braiding. It is hard to explain the operation of the gaugers without a moving picture, and we wanted to include a video recording of Les demonstrating one, even if lack of time forced us to truncate it. In the demonstration, Les uses a piece of finished leather instead of rawhide.
  • -  The process of making rawhide strips begins with the selection of a cowhide. A skin with too many or too deep brands should be avoided or the hide will pull apart. Les said he lays the skin on the ground and cuts a long strip in a spiral from the edge to the center. This long and somewhat irregular strip is finished in the gauger. Les described as "heartbreak" the experience of breaking a nearly finished strip.
  • -  The strip is then softened in water and the braiding begins. Les said that braiding a riata required considerable strength and that few could accomplish the task at one sitting. When the work was interrupted, the rawhide was stored in a wet sack to keep it pliable.
  • -  Frank Loveland, a retired Paradise Valley ranch foreman, maintains his rawhide riatas with beef liver. Today, nylon ropes have all but replaced the riata. Great affection for the old ropes remains, however, and Les is not alone in keeping one or two on hand for old time's sake.


  • 3/4 inch video

Call Number/Physical Location

  • AFC 1991/021: NV78-VT9

Source Collection

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


  • American Folklife Center

Digital Id

Online Format

  • video

Rights & Access

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The American Folklife Center and the professional fieldworkers who carry out these projects feel a strong ethical responsibility to the people they have visited and who have consented to have their lives documented for the historical record. The Center asks that researchers approach the materials in this collection with respect for the culture and sensibilities of the people whose lives, ideas, and creativity are documented here. Researchers are also reminded that privacy and publicity rights may pertain to certain uses of this material.

The Buckaroos in Paradise collection includes copy photographs of numerous historical still photographs, works of art, and other objects that are owned by the families or individuals identified in bibliographic records for those objects. The collection also includes audio and video interviews with individuals who consented to the inclusion of these selections here.

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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. Trimming Rawhide Strands with a Gauger. 1978. Video.

APA citation style:

Stewart, L. J., Marshall, H. W., Gastañaga, L. & Ahlborn, R. E. (1978) Trimming Rawhide Strands with a Gauger. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Stewart, Leslie J, et al. Trimming Rawhide Strands with a Gauger. 1978. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.