The Gritty Bit: January - Bowman Custom Spurs
I had the pleasure of speaking with Todd Bowman, master craftsman and owner of Bowman Custom Spurs, during the busiest season of the e-commerce industry—Thanksgiving week. When I called to interview him forThe Gritty Bit, he was chin-deep in producing custom silverwork for a high-end reining saddle company. I expected to have a quick call so he could get back to his massive order but Todd was ever so gracious and took the time to share his industry insights and the intricate details of his business process. Two hours later we ended the call and I was forever changed by his wealth of knowledge—about the horse industry, about the communication between horse and rider and, of course, about how to design and hand-craft custom bits and spurs.
Todd launched Bowman Custom Spurs in 2010 in response to his need to be able to better communicate with his own horses after suffering life-changing injuries from a skydiving accident years earlier. Todd was raised on horses and competed at the collegiate and professional levels for many years. His decades on the rodeo, reining, cutting and roping circuits gave him insights into the unserved needs of his future customers. While on the circuit he intently studied the way riders communicate with their horses through the bit and the spurs. After his accident, he noticed that he wasn’t communicating with his own horses the same way. He determined that the shank length would need to be different for each spur and that required a customized design that he couldn’t find anywhere else. He searched for blacksmithing tools and customized them for his purposes, and then began experimenting with spur designs that affected how his horses responded to his communication. Seemingly minor changes to the shank length and height, and the placement of the pin made a huge difference in how he was able to talk to his horses. Todd realized that other riders could also significantly benefit from a tailored approach to spur design. That was the impetus for his new career and the founding of Bowman Custom Spurs.
Todd’s passion for developing the perfect bit or spurs is infectious. His process for evaluating every aspect of the customer’s use of these tools is meticulous, and the handmade products he crafts are nothing short of stunning. So, what is the secret to Todd’s successful formula? He puts each customer’s goals, needs and unique specifications in the center of his decision, design and crafting process. This 5-step approach starts with a review of the rider either in person or via video, where he pays particular attention to the rider’s pressure in the hands and feet. With this information and the rider’s physical attributes, Todd selects a band width and size, shank length and height, pin height, and finally, rowel type. Once the mechanics are determined, the customer can focus on the aesthetic aspects including silversmithing and personalization. Then the fun begins.
Todd’s creations are used by some of the top reining, cutting and roping trainers in the country and his work has been juried in the prestigious International Guild of Bit and Spur Makers. Todd’s mantra is creating "The Right Tool For The Right Job” and it shows in every aspect of his work.
Todd's work goes well beyond bits and spurs. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind silversmithing for an heirloom gun, a personalized belt buckle that your children will treasure, or custom saddle silver smithing, Bowman Custom Spurs will deliver a functional, yet artistic piece that will be handed down for generations to come.
Todd has built a beautiful production shop and engraving room in Crossville, TN. To contact Todd about creating custom bits and spurs, belt buckles, jewelry, or silversmithing, click on his profile here.
Between the time we first spoke and now, Todd completed the silverwork order he was working on. Below is the one of the finished products. Isn’t it exquisite?
We love to showcase our small business customers, whether you’re a saddle maker, equine veterinarian, boarding facility, farrier or other horse-related business. If you’d like to share your horse business with the GoHorse community, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know that you’d like to be featured in The Gritty Bit. Over 30,000 horse enthusiasts visit the site every month to search for businesses focused on equine activities. And with over 15,000 businesses currently on GoHorse, it’s become the horse community’s destination for all things horse-related.
Until next time…happy trails!