ALEXANDRIA -- There was a time when Ted Flowers was one of the best known parade saddle makers in the United States. From the 1950s through the 1970s, his saddles were an affordable alternative to horse saddles made on the West Coast. Flowers’ prices ranged from $32 for an unadorned standard model to over $15,000 for a more exquisite model. But most of Flowers’ handmade saddles cost in the vicinity of $1,000 to $2,000.
During the 1940s, Edward Anderson “Ted” Flowers began making saddles at his shop in Anderson. He then moved to Alexandria where he opened Saddles on Parade on Indiana 9, just south of town. It was there where Flowers not only produced most of his saddles, but also manufactured his own steel dyes for stamping patterns into the leather. The saddle maker most often used German silver, stainless steel, Sterling silver, brass, and copper to decorate his saddles. The fancier saddles featured an Indian head or horse head decoration, and sometimes a 14-caret gold inlay. The saddles weighed anywhere from seventy-five to one-hundred-fifty pounds.
It wasn’t uncommon for Western movie legends Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey to buy equipment from Flowers. The cowboy stars would land their private planes at Alexandria’s Knott’s Airport just a mile away and go almost unnoticed by fellow customers at Saddles on Parade.
The featured Ted Flowers Parade saddle is known as the Royal and was made in the early 1960s. It was used primarily for parade classes and has the mark of Saddles on Parade up by the swells. Equestrians appearing at the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, or Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, often sit tall in a saddle made by Flowers. Today, horse saddles made by Flowers can go for as much as $7,500 in auctions. They have also been featured on episodes of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars.
Though Flowers was considered a supreme craftsman in his field, his life ended tragically. Flowers allegedly shot and killed Kenneth Goad, 24, and Sherry Gross, 30, at his Alexandria home on Aug. 21,1975. He was charged with two counts of first degree murder in connection with the shooting deaths of the two Muncie residents. While awaiting a January court appearance, the 61-year-old Flowers collapsed at the Madison County Jail where he was being held. He passed away on Jan. 7, 1976 at Saint John’s Hospital of an apparent heart attack. Flowers was laid to rest at Park View Cemetery in Alexandria.