Who Made My Saddle?

June 3, 2007 by  
Filed under General Saddle Topics

That’s probably the most frequent question I receive from readers. It seems that a whole lot of folks are trying to find out more information about the saddles they own or are considering purchasing.

It can be a tough search. There have been thousands of saddlemakers through the years. Tracking down information about a maker, other than the most well known is not an easy task.

The Internet is a good place to start. Even if the maker doesn’t have a website, others might have written about them. If you’re a real student of saddles, you might want to track down a copy of "Old Cowboy Saddles & Spurs" by Dan & Sebie Hutchins. It contains a lengthy listing of makers with a few nuggets (location, years of operation) on each.  Don’t expect to find much more detail than that, though. There’s just not a lot known about most makers.

You’ll find a lot more info available about some of the most famous makers of yesteryear – Hamley, Capriola, Porter, Leddy, Ray Holes, Hermann Heiser, Visalia.

 

 

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Comments

14 Responses to “Who Made My Saddle?”
  1. Dean Morrison says:

    I really enjoy your emails and advice. Thanks very much. I have a question though. The other day while looking at some used saddles, I asked the sale lady if she could tell me which ones had wooden trees. She said it was impossible to tell. Is that true and if not, what should I look for.She also went on to say that I wouldn’t want a wooden tree anyway as the new materials where much more flexible and giving to the horse and less likely to crack. She said wooden ones crack more often and when they do you can’t always tell. I am interested in what the experts think of all this. Thanks.

  2. Saddle Sense says:

    Dean,
    Either the sales lady is pulling your leg, or is uninformed. I suspect a little of both.

    It is definitely not impossible to tell whether a saddle has a wood tree. It can be difficult for the uninitiated, but a tack sales person should definitely be able to tell. Look under the jockeys (front, rear, or seat jockeys) where a portion of the saddle tree will be visible. Remember that most wood trees will have a rawhide covering.

    As for the sales person’s comments indicating wood trees are inferior to synthetic trees, I would take that as an indication of the quality of wood trees that her store sells. As we explain on the Western Saddle Guide Site, quality wood trees are superior to synthetic trees in durability, horse fit, and rider comfort. There are poor quality wood trees on the market, however, and maybe that’s what her comments are referring to. Top quality saddlemakers build their saddles with rawhide covered wood trees. That should tell you what you need to know.

  3. bill herbert says:

    I HAVE A WESTERN SADDLE MADE BY ANDY HAMILTON OF WESTBROOKVILLE NEW YORK. THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL SADDLE AND I AM INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE ABOUT ITS MAKER. THE INTERNET DOES SHOW THAT HE DIED IN 2002. BUT THAT IS ALL I CAN FIND. ALSO THERE IS A STAMP ON THE SADDLE THAT IS A DCAF ALL ARE IN A STAMP WITH D THE LARGEST, THE C WITHIN IT, THE A WITHIN IT AND THE F WITHIN IT. I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY HELP WITH THIS REQUEST THANKS BILL

  4. Where do I find a brand or something that tell you made my saddle

  5. Saddle Sense says:

    George,
    Most saddles will have sort of maker’s mark on them. This can be a company name, a saddle maker’s name, or a logo/mark. It usually will be in one of these places: on the latigo holder, behind the cantle, or under the fenders.

    Some makers, however, don’t put a mark on at all.

  6. Ed Hamilton says:

    In response to the man who owns an Andy Hamilton saddle – you own an amazing piece of craftsmanship. My brother was an amazing saddlemaker and an amazing man. Each saddle he made was a gift from the maker, however, the saddles were strong and built to work. The best tribute to the maker is to use that saddle and work it well! We grew up in rural Texas. Our father was a smitty, and his father a wheelright. As kids, there were always alot of horses on property, large breed as well as quarters. Andy would sit in the old time saddle shops asking questions, and ultimately built his first saddle in the basement of his house, on a Sherman Oaks tree. There are many saddlemakers, but the ones who create saddles such as those Andy made had a real passion for the horse as well as the rider. There are no 2 alike, I assure you. I touched each of those saddles as they were made, and felt the love that went into the construction of each.
    As for the DCAF brand in the gullet, DCAF is the acronym for Dry Creeks Art Fellowship – an organization founded in Arizona for craftsman and artists who were preserving those dying crafts such as saddlemaking, braiding, silversmiths, hat makers, bootmakers and such. I hope this answers your basic question. The story of Andy is large and full of love and respect – anyone who ever met him as touched I know. Honor that saddle, take care of it, and ride tall in it!

  7. bill herbert says:

    Ed Hamilton. I cant tell you how happy i am that I finally found some information on your brother. I agree that his saddlemaking skills were excellent. You mentioned the tree he used for his first saddle. Do you know what trees he used? were they special made for him and by who? Where did he learn to care so well? It is amazing the time and detail he put into a saddle.
    It goes without asying that the world has lost a superior saddle maker and you have lsot a brother. Im sorry for your loss and also sorry that the world will have no more of his work to appreciate.
    Thank you for taking the time to write and to answer my questions.
    Bill

  8. Mr. Ed Hamilton,I just want to sayI relish the fact that I own this saddle,it is a ranch roper with a high cantle in the back,I have a 16-3 mustang guilding and it fits him like it was made for him,I also have a circle Y and it doesn’t fit him as good as the one your brother made,I am a native american and you can feel the engerny and love that went into his work,the saddle I have is somewhere between 30 or 40 yrs. old,Isn’t also true that your brother was rated one of top ten saddlemakers in the nation? Well Happy Trails and God Bless<<<>>Dennis Brugman<<<>>>Walkinghorse<<<>>>

  9. I’m trying to help a friend find out what brand of saddle she owns. It has a backwards R and a regular R on it. It’s a barrel saddle. Can anyone help us?

  10. Whisp says:

    Does anyone recall the last name of a saddle maker from Buena Park, Calif whose first name was “FOREST.” And where I might buy one.

  11. Meghan says:

    I am looking into a new saddle and it has no brand name on it. Under one of the flaps it has a word on it but only the last four letters, “MARR” are visible, with either Texas or Texas on it as well. I don’t think it’s a Bob Marrs, but what could it be? The woman who owns it says that it is a reining saddle.

  12. Saddle Sense says:

    There are soooo many saddle makers out there, it’s, unfortunately, pretty much impossible to identify a saddle without a makers mark.

  13. Susan says:

    I got a well built older saddle today. I would guess by style it’s probably 30-40 years old but I may be way off. It has a makers mark on the left fender. The only words I can make out are Western Tannery and there is a big “W” in the center of mark. There is lots of tooling on this saddle including a horse head stamped into fender. Any ideas who the maker may be?

  14. Saddle Sense says:

    Western Tannery is a relatively generic name so hard to pin down. Sorry I can help more. There were just too many saddle makers in the past to be able to identify the thousands and thousands of saddles out there.

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