Student Photo Gallery - 2011/2012

During this period we had pleasure training several students who came from different states across the US and one student from France. Most of them shared our love for horses, horseback riding and leatherwork. All of them left as friends. Their reasons for taking these classes were varied—to start a small business, to add leather-working skills to an existing tack shop, to teach basic saddle repair to students, to make money doing something they loved, etc. Our student from Illinois may have had the most unique reason for learning leather-work. He is a wood sculptor and wants to make authentic props, in this case gun holsters, for his carving work. After taking the gun holster class, he decided that he would also like to bring in some income making and selling custom gun holsters. One Saddle Making School student liked the work so well that he returned for another class on making gun holsters. His enthusiasm caused his wife to come with him and take a class on making saddle bags. Another student returned to take the Saddle Making School course after taking a one-week class in general horse equipment repair.

We wish all these students well in their new endeavors. They all have access to help by phone or email with any leather work questions they might encounter.

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We wish all these students well in their new endeavors. They all have access to help by phone or email with any leather work questions they might encounter.

Student Photo Gallery - 2010

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Students from four different states and two foreign countries attended our saddle making school and leatherworking classes in 2010. Without exception, they have gone home and started projects using their new skills. It has been rewarding to us that they have kept in touch as to what they were doing. They are setting up work areas and shops. They are advertising and finding business from the public and from friends. One student is making custom holsters for two gun shops and has plans to make this a full-time business. Some are supplementing retirement and part-time incomes. Another is adding leather goods to an already established business with a web site.

It has been interesting teaching these students who come from many different backgrounds. They have come with varying levels of leatherwork skills, but all have been willing workers that wanted hands-on experience. They have not learned kit projects, but have learned how to be creative-to make their own patterns-to visualize the finished project. They have been diligent in recording the information they gained using hand written notes, digital pictures and audio-video recordings. They all know that they have future access to our master saddle maker via phone and email for help with problems that might arise. Saddle making and leatherwork will not be dying arts as long as we have talented students such as these.

Veteran Saddle Making School Graduate

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One of the recent graduates of my saddle making school has a very interesting story. Joe contacted me in 2009 about attending the school and told me he was visually impaired due to military service in the Marines. He had done some leatherwork in the past and had been approved by VA Vocational Rehabilitation to attend a saddle making school. Joe had contacted several saddle makers, but couldn't find one that would teach custom saddle making instead of teaching how to build a saddle from a kit. Also, many of them did not feel like they could deal with his vision impairment.

It took a few months to get my school in the Veterans Affairs system, but Joe was able to start his class in June. Now that we are in the system, it will be much easier for other veterans to attend. Joe completed a beautiful Western working saddle. Then, he stayed an additional two weeks to take two more classes. He completed a bridle, chest strap, saddlebags, rifle sleeve and leather-covered canteen. I'm going to let the progress report and pictures finish his exceptional story.


Progress Report to VA Four-Week Long Saddle Making School:

Joe has very successfully completed this course. He has built a chocolate brown western working saddle and a saddle stand that is equipped for use in building saddles. He has built this saddle starting with preparing the saddle tree, making patterns for the leather, cutting and finishing the leather (includes edging, dying and burnishing), and covering the saddle with leather. He has accomplished hand and machine stitching and some tooling. He has made a complete set of patterns for his saddle and has learned how to modify them for other saddles. He has purchased a second saddle tree and prepared it for building. His plan is to build a second saddle in the near future to reinforce his training. Joe definitely has an aptitude for leatherwork is a quick learner and has a marvelous attitude. It has been a pleasure to have him as a student.

Pete Harry, Saddler

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