Broadleaf Team Roping Saddle

A team roping saddle on a TM tree… pretty normal set up for me.

But I wanted to make something different from my usual tooling and finish style. When I began this saddle for the 2024 World Leather Debut, I didn’t have many ideas on what I was going to build.

One thing that I did know was that it would have a full padded seat with a stitch pattern. This was the only thing that I knew I wanted to do. I even had the leather already chosen.

The leather I chose for the padded seat was a Milled Veg Tanned leather from Wicket and Craig. I was introduced to this material by Aaron with Maker’s Leather Supply at a show. We purchases some from him for Claudia to make some bags out of which she did. While she was working with this leather in the shop, I kept thinking that it would make such a nice padded seat in a saddle.

When it came time to get started on our entry for the debut, I decided that the seat had to be out of the milled veg. Honestly this one decision was all that I had for the design of the saddle… the seat. But what about the rest of the saddle?

After I began to work on the saddle and got closer to fitting parts that needed to have tooling on them, I pulled from a sketchbook a flower I had been playing with. After some practice and tooling on some scrap leather, I decided on the flower and leaf style that is now on the saddle. Still without much direction as to the final look of the saddle, I began working on size and composition. I had to decide on the boldness of the pattern as I went so that it all flowed well. I wanted it big and bold, but also to have elegant movements that added to the depth and complexity of the pattern.

Over time as I worked out the artwork on various pieces, the finish of the saddle began to stand out to me in my mind. With the large bold flowers and light colored padded seat, I knew that I wanted to do a “Resisted Flowers” finish. This is a type of finish in which the flowers and leaves only are sealed with a hard finish like lacquer. Then when the saddle is oiled, everything gets a darker tone except the flowers and leaves. This adds a lot of contrast to a piece.

I wanted the contrast to be very subtle on this saddle so that it wasn’t overwhelming. So after all the resisting was done, the saddle began to get some oil. This was done in very small amounts to keep the finish just light enough to show a slight contrast to the resisted flowers and leaves.

I was very happy with the final look of this team roping saddle and especially the floral tooling pattern. Although my usual tendency is to draw and tool smaller floral patterns, I found this large flower and leaf pattern to be very appealing to me. I think the aggressive pear shading, large movements, and texture of the tooling makes this saddle stand out to me as a stand alone piece.

We carried this saddle to Sheridan, WY in May of 2024 for the World Leather Debut and it placed 2nd in the “Saddles – Carved” category. As we talked about with the “Texas Wildlife Ranch Saddle,” the competition at the Debut is tough. Some of the best craftsmen from all over the country and world bring pieces to the event in many different categories. There were some amazing saddles again this year and we were honored to see the saddle place like it did. Such an amazing opportunity to have another saddle there to be judged and critiqued.

This team roping saddle is on display at our shop and is available for purchase. Don’t let the amount of tooling or the buttery milled veg tanned seat fool you, this saddle is ready to be put to work. For anyone looking for that saddle that stands out in a sea of saddled rope horses, this one is for you. Come by the shop or call for more information and pricing.