WESTERN STYLE ONLY, FOR HORSE OR MULE
John specializes in making Western saddles for the outdoorsman/woman, including saddles well suited to hunting game, trail riding, and daily ranch work; strength, durability, and comfort for both rider and horse are the primary goal. Fancy show saddles with, for example, lots of silver should be looked for elsewhere. John's saddles, however, are beautiful and unique; for example, he likes to use polished deer antler "buttons" for conchos, but sometimes leather, brass, or stainless steel conchos are used instead (silver conchos are an option if desired).
One key component of a comfortable saddle for the rider is an all leather "ground seat." Many "cheap" saddles will typically have a metal strainer for the ground seat, which definitely is not nearly as comfortable. Your saddle could look completely different, depending on the tree, cantle, and horn you select. Please see photos at the bottom of this page for example custom saddles that John has made.
Only genuine wood, bull-hide wrapped trees are used, and can be ordered from the tree-maker according to the seat size, and type of horse (quarter horse, arabian, or thoroughbred type), or for mules. Even so, there are some variances in size and weight among breed types, and this should be discussed with John prior to ordering the tree. The size and type of horn, style of cantle, and fork are all components of the tree. Ordering the tree itself can often be the longest portion of time involved with saddle making, and can take up to several months, depending on how busy the tree maker is.
Three types of riggings are available: (1) In skirt: This rigging is very strong and lighter in weight; it can be made in full, 7/8, or 3/4. (2) Rigging plate: This rigging is very popular on modern saddles, and can also be made in full, 7/8, or 3/4. (3) Center fire: This is John's favorite, partly because it is very adjustable. This rigging is great for long trail rides, but can also be adjusted to a full rigging for roping. This is also a good rigging for mules because you can adjust it to keep it off sore spouts and to obtain good balance for the rider and mule (or horse). Use of the center fire rigging with the mule saddle is so effective that a britchen may not be needed.
High quality, thick 13, 14, 15 or 16 ounce weight leather is used in most saddles; lighter weight leather can be used for some pieces to make the saddle lighter, if desired by the rider. John uses un-dyed leather that he rubs down with lots of saddle oil for conditioning and sheen. Colored leather is also an option, but is not typically used. Raw hide makes an interesting contrast to saddle leather, and often it is used on the horn and cantle binding. Sometimes the rough-out side of the leather may be used on parts of the saddle to add an interesting contrast. John prefers to hand-stitch saddles.
Only genuine sheepskin is used.
Stirrups are leather-bound, and stitched or laced. Other types can be ordered, such as wood with brass, and John can also make tapaderos. For those who hunt or wear heavy hiking boots while riding, we recommend ordering oversize/wide stirrups.
John prefers using quality fittings, such as brass or stainless steel on saddles and gear.
BASIC SADDLE PRICES
Basic undyed, untooled saddle with stirrups not covered starts at $1,800.00. Basic saddle with breast collar, choice of stirrups, and belly strap starts around $2,100. Basic saddle with tooling (does not include stirrup coverage or accessories) starts at about $2,500 average, more or less depending on the designs and amount of tooling. Tooled saddle with breast collar, choice of stirrups (including tapaderos), and bellystrap starts at about $2,800 average.
SHIPPING AND COMPLETION TIME
Customer pays shipping, and tax if applicable. Or arrangements can be made for you to pick up your saddle here. Saddles are typically sent via UPS, and shipping is based on the weight of saddle and includes packaging materials. Completion time is about 3 to 6 months is average, potentially up to a year. These are hand-crafted items, with some special ordered parts (tree most important!), and do take time!
PHOTOS OF EXAMPLE CUSTOM SADDLES
(click any photo for a slide show)