By Nick Pernokas If you’ve ever traveled south on the back roads of eastern Idaho, you’ve seen the dark forests and craggy mountains give way to sage brush, and then the vast plains to the south. You’ve probably noticed that it was lonesome country, the kind of country that can keep a secret. Towns with names like Custer and Bonanza were once booming towns where men coaxed hidden treasure from the ground, in the form of silver and gold. But those men, and the towns, are
By Nick Pernokas The Chevy box truck labored up another hill. In 1928, some of the roads in western Nebraska were in name only. The region was not called “the Sandhills” for nothing, and Elmus Henderson hoped he would not have to pull the planks out of the back to give the tires some traction. He looked over at his assistant, who was slumped on the passenger side. Elmus knew from the man’s choice of refreshments that he probably
By Nick Pernokas Sometimes the dust of history covers up some pretty good stories. Sometimes it takes a cold West Texas wind to blow some of it away, so you know where to start digging. The wind was blowing that day in 2002, when I pulled off Highway 67 just outside of Brownwood, Texas. I was looking for a man who was a link between the cowboy saddles of yesteryear, and the modern performance saddle.
By Liisa Andreassen Tod Slone, an icon in the western saddle making industry, had no idea that one day, saddle making would be his business. But here he is, 24 years after the founding of Slone Saddles (1996), where he and his wife, Lonna, currently employ more than 50 people, including their daughter, Kailey, and sons, Ace and Leske. Tod Slone, an icon in the western saddle making industry, with his wife Lonna. “Built to
Saddlemaker Ben Geisler carries forward the Wade saddle tradition By Lynn Ascrizzi Resilience. A capacity to flourish. Hidden strength. Attributes like these are native to the aspen tree: a lithe, adaptable species that announces spring with flowering catkins, reclaims burned-over, scarred landscapes and, in fall, lights up hillsides with bright-gold leaves. The tree’s hardy attributes seem to be a fitting metaphor for Aspen Saddlery of Rineyville, Kentucky, a one-man shop owned and operated with single-minded dedication by saddlemaker and leatherworker, Ben Geisler. The majority of Geisler’s equally hardy customers are ranch cowboys and horse trainers. “I make working saddles for working horsemen. They’re almost all rough-out, Wade saddles, made flesh side-out. The thing with rough out, is that it
Harris Leather & Silverworks sets the standard for the show horse community A show horse decked out with a custom Harris saddle enhanced with ornate silverwork. By Lynn Ascrizzi Anyone deeply involved in big-time show horse events, such as The All-American Quarter Horse Congress,is well aware of the stature of Harris Leather & Silverworks and their hand-built, silver-spangled saddles and other artfully craftedleather tack. “Our saddles and silverwork are what
The Heritage Brand leather shop in Tumalo, Oregon, where all HB products are manufactured. By Danna Burns-Shaw Did you know that family businesses account for 64% of U.S. gross domestic product? They generate 62% of the country’s employment and account for 78% of all new job creation. Family-owned businesses are the backbone of the American economy! Small businesses employ just over half of U.S. workers. Research also shows that family
Karsten and Kent Frecker shown with a couple floral carved saddles. By Nick Pernokas The tall cowboy eased through the crowd at the tradeshow. Every once in a while there was a flash of recognition from other shoppers, but then they went on about their business. This was Vegas after all. The National Finals Rodeo sported several large trade shows filled with western merchandise and it was easy to miss
This Mother Hubbard saddle is representative of the historical miniature reproductions that Tad made. The base price on his miniature saddles in the 1990's was $3000. By Nick Pernokas John Kelley always eagerly anticipated his monthly copy of Shop Talk! Magazine. The Morton, Illinois, leatherworker had been working with leather since he was 10. He had created beautiful knife sheaths, holsters and handbags, many featuring beautiful carving and fine hand
By Nick Pernokas Monroe performing a rope trick with his daughter Letty in 1946. The young cowboy dropped his bag on the ground and loosened the cinches on his saddle. The saddle he set a little more carefully on the small Parkerton railway stop platform. After he slipped the bridle off over the old mare’s ears, he slapped her on the butt, to send her on the familiar journey home.