They say that it is all about the journey, not the destination. They are right.
With the recent completion of Saddle #500 in the journey, I have come to realize that you can reach landmarks along the way that you subconsciously knew would be there, but that they were not the destination . They appeared on the horizon as a pleasant surprise when you got close enough to see them.
Just short of a year ago, I realized that saddle #500 was on the horizon. As fate sometimes does, that order aligned with a customer that requested "the prettiest saddle you've ever built". The same request was offered by the same customer just nineteen short years ago. To this day, that previous saddle remains one the prettiest saddles that I have ever built. It shows years and miles of service, but it also shows the great care and pride of ownership that a cowboy can have for his gear.
My mentor and dear friend, Master Saddle Maker Dale Harwood, has often told me that repeat customers will insure your success as a saddle maker. I took this advise to heart then, and still find it to be true today. I am always honored when a customer returns to order more of my work, and strive to make each piece just a little better than the last.
As ranchers and rodeo stock contractors, we have always lived and worked among my customer base. Life has evolved over the years, but this basic premise still holds true. The story of who I am revolves around horses, cattle, and ranching; and creating functional and beautiful leather goods that serve cowboys. My greatest reward in my trade comes from the praise of a good hand that enjoys riding one of my saddles.
The satisfaction and beauty of carved leather has always been my passion. The need to purpose that passion into functional items has guided my work. Building saddles was a step along the way.The challenge to blend the art with the function, and reach the balance of both, has been the goal. The building of saddle #500 seems like a personal milestone to stop and reflect on along the journey. There is no end goal ahead, except to keep enjoying the privilege of creating for as long as I am allowed. I am humbled and grateful to be on this journey. May you all be so blessed.