Sunday, July 8, 2012

Howard Council: Lawton's legendary saddle maker

This story represents what I love about Oklahoma.

Elliot's last area, Lawton, is home to Howard Council, a legendary saddle maker who has been making beautiful saddles - one at a time - since 1950 at his shop on 2nd Street. The picture above is from his earliest days in 1950. His saddles have been used by 12 rodeo world champions and by country music star George Strait (pictured), among many others.

Mr. Council was recently featured in a KSWO report, which describes his decades of experience. From the story:
Walk in the door and you're back in time when quality meant Made in America, made by hand, and it's still being made by Howard. He made his first saddle in 1950, after he taught himself how to do it. He doesn't know how many he's made since then, probably more than a thousand but one thing's for sure; world champions love his saddles, especially calf ropers.
"I made saddles for 12 World Champions, and between them they won 25 World Championships. And then World Champion All Around's, I've had 20 of those, well 20 All Around's have been won on my saddles. Trevor Brazile, who is the current world champion All Around, has won 9 All Around's just by himself."
But saddles aren't the only works of art that Mr. Council creates. He is also a self-taught painter, and both his saddles and his paintings are featured at an exhibit at the Museum of the Great Plains.

Mr. Council's philosophy is best summed up as follows:
Back at the shop the walls are littered with a who's who of calf ropers, barrel racers and National Finals Rodeo Contestants. Most people call them customers, not Howard. 
"We haven't made a lot of money but we've made a lot of friends, I call them friends. Customers, but friends all over, literally all over the United States and Canada even."
That sounds like the Oklahomans I know. Good people, honest, hard-working people, dedicated to the work they do and the people they serve. I don't know if Elliot ever had occasion to see Mr. Council's shop, a small building with a large horse on the roof. It would have been a great place to visit.

And finally, here's video about Mr. Council from KSWO. Enjoy.

KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

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