We are honored that you stopped in for a visit, and look forward to having you join us on this journey. This story began with a 15 year old girl and a plane wreck.
Once upon a time, our neighbor was involved in a serious air plane crash, in which he suffered a broken leg. As he already had one leg that had been damaged by polio in his youth, the wreck left him without a leg to stand on for several weeks. Boredom set in, so my Dad offered to teach him leather work to occupy his time while he healed. I convinced my Dad that he should teach me at the same time, and a lifelong journey began.
After carving one huge flower, I was hooked. My first project was a belt for myself, complete with white buck stitching and my name in the center, as was the style of the day. My fellow cowboy-kid classmates all wanted a belt of their own, and a career was born.
Fast forward to 1980, when I first had the honor of meeting Master Saddle Maker, Dale Harwood. Our family owned several Harwood saddles, and I was completely mesmerized by the quality of the craftsmanship and the beauty of the carved leather. My Dad had built himself a saddle as a young man, and it had always been a dream of mine to someday build a saddle for myself. Life at the time involved raising three kids, helping on the family ranch, and producing rodeos. I continued to advance my leather working skills by making chaps, belts, tack, and any custom item that folks requested. In 1987, my husband somehow convinced Dale Harwood to build me a couple saddle trees. Over the course of several months, I would visit Dale's shop for a few hours at a time to learn the basics of building a saddle. Armed with a notebook, I would sketch every detail and try to absorb every last bit of information.
Dale made sure that any saddle built under his guidance was top-notch, so my first saddle looked impressive. I was totally overwhelmed with the amount of detail required to produce a hand-made saddle, but I had a tree for my kids sitting in front of me, so eventually I started my second saddle. Armed with my notebook, and occasional help from Dale when I was sure that I would have to throw everything away and start over, I completed a 12" Homestead saddle.
As we were always traveling to rodeos, participating in team ropings, going to branding, and generally busy in the ranching community, that first saddle got a lot of exposure. I started getting orders, and began a new phase in my journey.
Over twenty· years, and 488 saddles later, I am still on the path of building, learning, and developing new skills; and still in love with the beauty of finely carved leather on a hand made saddle.