“Custom Saddle Makers of my generation never dreamed of such innovations as the internet; For the most part we were a solitary, even secretive lot who faithfully followed tradition, worked hard to perfect our skills and, if you were any good at satisfying the horsemen and women in your community, the work would come; usually in amounts that were hard to keep up with.
Times change, now we need to reach out to a wider world, but the ability and desire to offer a custom saddle born of that tradition is as relevant as it ever was. A finely designed and crafted saddle has the unique ability to allow two living beings – horse and rider – to work together.
From the time one of our distant ancestors put a piece of hide between himself and his horse’s back, riders have been trying to improve on the idea. The need to feel closer, safer, more effective, drove us to experiment with all manner of notions, incorporating every new material from wood and leather to plastic and fabric; from positioning the rider forward on the withers to back on the horse’s kidneys to sideways of all things!
My mission is to create a custom riding saddle that compliments and facilitates what has generally become known as the theory of Natural Horsemanship. I was fortunate to be born and raised in northeastern Oregon, part of the western United States that produced some of the founding fathers of this movement. Tom and Bill Dorrance and the Cliff Wade ranching families (after whom the Wade Tree was named) were legends in my home county. As a boy, I had the honor to ride in their shadows.
The land we rode on dictated their saddle design choices; so incredibly steep and unforgiving was the Hell’s Canyon and Grand Ronde country that a cowboy with a rope on a cow needed to be able to separate himself from his horse and free his horse from the cow in a split second lest the unfortunate, stumble footed bovine pull the whole outfit over a cliff. You can build a Slick Fork Saddle without knowing its origins, but something is gained if you understand the ‘why’ from personal experience. The same can be said for choice of materials; the very best is none too good when equipment failure is not an option. This is the spirit that I strive to incorporate into my work.”