go direct to photographs, below|
Eduardo Grijalva, Sr. began building bits and spurs in his rustic, open air shop in Magadalena, Mexico during 1944. By this time he had been repairing bits and making conchos for nearly 10 years. Before coming to Magdalena, Eduardo was also building crude bits on a part time basis using Mexican patterns. These early endeavors were inlaid with silver acquired from discarded eating utensils. Noted authority on the history of the California Vaquero, Arnold Rojas, made Eduardo’s acquaintance in 1949. From that time on, Eduardo’s work focused on the style of bits traditionally preferred by California horsemen.Among his customers in 1950 was legendary California horseman, Dick Deller, who frequently purchased Grijalva bits at The New Mickey Mouse Store located in Nogales. Eduardo’s bits gained further recognition when they were advertised in Ed Connell’s Carroll Saddle Company catalogs. Issued from the 1960’s to 1980, these catalogs became the equivalent of a cowboy wish book at many ranches. The undisputed star attraction of the catalogs were the Grijalva bits and spurs. Many a cowboy saved up his wages until he could order an EG bit. Word soon spread that not only were they good to look at, these were bits that were also good to use. Horses seemed to like them as much as their riders.
All Grijalva bits are cut from a piece of iron using a simple hammer and chisel. The mouthpieces are forged from one piece of iron, even the spades. The rich blue color is born among the coals of an old- time forge. All the inlays are cut by hand. The silver used in the inlays is converted from an ingot to a sheet by use of a hand crank silver roller.
Even though Eduardo passed away in 1994, his method of building a truly handmade pair of spurs or a bit did not die with him. His son Juan Adolfo Grijalva spent a lifetime working with his father learning the trade. Like his father, Juan is a master bit and spur maker. Juan continues to build bits and spurs in his father’s shop, marking his creations with the famous EG* stamp. Juan does not advertise nor ship his work, yet the demand for his product outweighs the supply.
The third generation of Grijalva bit makers is represented by Juan’s nephew, Eduardo’s grandson, Ricardo Valencia-Grijalva. who began learning the family trade by working with his grandfather Eduardo and his uncle Juan. Following his grandfather’s death, Ricardo continued to work along side his uncle. In 2004, Ricardo left the shop built by his grandfather and began working on his own. Today, Ricardo has gained recognition as a master in his own right. Currently he has a waiting list in excess of well over one year. Although Ricardo has moved to his own shop, he and his uncle Juan keep Eduardo’s traditional methods of building bits and spurs alive. Ricardo marks his bits and spurs with the L5* mark. The star in the mark plays homage to Eduardo, the L5 to the brand used by his other grandfather. In a world of short cuts and mass production, you can be assured that bits bearing the mark of Juan or Ricardo were constructed using methods found in centuries past.