Triple Creek Saddlery is proud to have Ed Steele Equi-Fit Trees in every one of our custom saddles.
Why Ed Steele? Because the history, quality, and product are second to none.
Meet Ed Steele
George Steele, great-great grandfather of the youngest generation now operating Steele Saddle Tree Company, went through his apprenticeship making saddle trees in England in the early 1800's, after which he built saddle trees there for a number of years.
He came to this country on business several times, and finally immigrated with his family in 1840. After spending a year or so checking out several northern states, he settled in what would become Goodlettsville, Tennessee and went into business building wagons.
In 1848, after raising sufficient capital, he moved to Nashville and started a saddle tree factory. He did a thriving business and employed over 60 men prior to the Civil War. During the war he built trees for the Confederate Cavalry. When Nashville was captured, his entire operation was confiscated and all his machinery was shipped north. He was then thrown out of the country because, as a British subject having not yet acquired American citizenship, he could only be deported for supplying the Confederacy.
Shortly after the war, he returned and went back into the saddle tree business on the same property in Nashville.
Except for a few temporary shut-downs due to being destroyed once by war, once by tornado, twice by fire and once by the advent of the automobile, this business has been around for a long time, through 151 years and five generations.
In the early part of this century individual tree makers and their customers competed against other tree makers and their customers. If a saddle maker's tree supplier had the best tree and he had the best styles, together, they had the lion's share of the market. The industry evolved to the point that each tree-saddle making team had their niche in the market. The riding public knew if you wanted to fit one type of horse, you bought your saddle from one particular company. For a different type horse you bought your saddle from another. This practice in today's litigious society would likely elicit an anti-trust action, but in those days, business was conducted on the basis of providing a quality product at a reasonable price with an eye toward keeping your company around for generations to come. You left another fellow's area alone so that he left you alone, avoiding price wars that reduced everyone's profits. With sufficient profit, a company can produce goods based upon quality rather than cutting costs.
Cost considerations have become the major factor in tree design. Few tree makers will use four inches of wood to attain the proper fit when they can make do with two. No saddle form maker is going to replace a $30,000 mold that shapes ill-fitting forms when they can buy a $5,000 ad in a national magazine to convince potential customers they make a good product. The public does not realize that these decisions: to use two inches of lumber instead of four and not to replace an outdated or badly designed mold, are the actual reasons their horse is sored, doesn't perform at peak, or misbehaves. Fortunately this appears to be changing as the riding public become more aware of proper fit.
As the fifth generation in a direct line of tree makers dating back to 1847 in this country, the knowledge passed down to Ed is unavailable to anyone else in the industry.
I follow "tradition. Tradition is the best of the best. It is not static rather it is added to by each generation. If I do something the same way Gramp did and his father and grandfather before him, it is because I have determined it to be the best way based upon my family's and my own experience. Gramp always said, "Experience is the best teacher. Since you have only so much time to gain experience yourself, anytime you can benefit from someone else's experience, you'll be ahead of the game." I bring to tree making the accumulated knowledge and experience of five generations covering one hundred fifty years. Still, I learn every day and do not assume to know it all. To quote an old song by the group Kansas, "If I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know." - Ed Steele