Braiding in the Bill Dorrance tradition, Montana horseman and artisan Randy Rieman discusses the beauty and functionality of rawhide…
Legendary equine artist Orren Mixer can’t remember names, dates or places worth a dime. But when it comes to horses, the 87-year-old has a photographic memory. For instance, he doesn’t recall the exact year he was commissioned to paint his first equine portrait, other than it was 1949 or 1950, but he does know that he painted racehorses Tom’s Lady Gray and Gray Lady, both owned by James Reese of Temple, Oklahoma.
He can’t remember how many paintings he’s done, but he thinks he’s painted pictures of horses in 28 states, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. And he for sure remembers that he has painted some horses two or even three times. “I’d paint a picture for the owner of a horse, and then when the horse sold, the new owner would want one. And if the horse sold again, sometimes the next owner would want one,” Orren Mixer laughs.
Whether supervising operations, braiding rawhide, engraving silver or building saddles, the owners, managers and craftsmen at Hamely & Co. share a common vision: to maintain the quality craftsmanship and commitment to working working cowboys and buckaroos that the store was founded on more than a century ago.
World-famous Severe Brothers Saddlery, a family-operated outfit in Pendleton, Oregon, was started by brothers Duff and Bill Severe in 1955. Today, the next generation of Severe brother, Robin and Randy, carry on their father and uncle's saddlemaking traditions, while adding a few touches of their own.
A one-of-a-kind mentoring program helps ensure the future of the gearmaking arts.
It’s never been easy to earn a living as a maker of custom working tack. Young artisans invest years studying their crafts, pursuing every available educational opportunity, from apprenticeships to the reverse engineering of finished gear. Once they enter the business, these craftsmen face the harsh realities of professions defined by painstaking work, impatient customers, and often razor-thin profit margins.