I don’t have a horse; my sister has plenty of them. I regard them as dangerous on both ends and unpredictable in the middle!
Not that I didn’t learn to ride as a kid. My mother insisted on the importance of sitting a saddle well, and my sister and I took riding lessons. My sister had an Annie Oakley outfit, and one time when we were at our lesson, riding around in a big circle in an arena, I heard her loudly whispering, “Jackson, look at me!”
I turned around in my saddle, and there she was, about six years old, standing up on the saddle of her (thankfully) gentle horse, pretending to be Annie Oakley.
My father was in the last American Cavalry at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and basically lived with his horse. After that experience, he hated horses and was happy when the Army abandoned sending soldiers to Europe for WWII with these animals. The 7th Cavalry became the 7th Armored Division, and that was the end of his horseback riding career.
But I have always liked Navajo Saddle Blankets. The Navajo used their weaving skills to create beautiful single and double saddle blankets. The double ones were made to be folded in half and put under a saddle; the single ones were made to fit under a saddle without folding them.
A few books have been written about “Fancy Saddle Blankets,” which had bright colors and usually had some tassels on the corners. These were meant for parades and special occasions and are beautiful weavings. But I always liked the basic, thickly woven saddle blankets with minimal design on the twill weavings. Both were made to wear, and when I went to college, I used them on my dorm room floor. They are incredible floor rugs and look good on top of tables and the backs of couches.
I think they are funky examples of Navajo weaving. Today we seem to value most rugs by their perfection, and most are imperfect. The edges will curve in and out, the designs aren’t always even, and some don’t even have designs in the middle.
A high-end resort in New Mexico used these and other “imperfect” weavings to decorate its lobby. They had expensive plexiglass frames that cost much more than the weavings did, and they hung them throughout the lobby. It looks great, and I think it honors the women who wove these less-than-perfect rugs. They have character!
I thought it might be nice to send out an email that isn’t about museum-quality work but rather about something that people made to use. Not every writer is Hemingway, not every painter is Picasso, and not every weaver is Mae Jim! But every weaver deserves credit for what she created!