From his New Zealand workshop, Warren Wright handcrafts saddletrees for makers across the American West.
On a trip with friends to New Zealand in February of 2020, Western Horseman Editor Christine Hamilton took time to add a visit with legendary saddletree maker Warren Wright, and his wife, Lana, at Wright’s isolated workshop on the country’s North Island.
In his 50-year career, Wright has crafted more than 6,000 saddletrees by hand, from shaping the wood to processing his own rawhide. His trees are in high demand across the American West.
Trained in the “Walter Youngman Method” which has its roots in legendary Hamley & Co. and Severe Brothers Saddlery, both of Pendleton, Oregon, Wright learned his saddletree skills from makers such as Bill Severe and Dale Harwood.
Watch him work on two trees: a custom-order Wade tree slick fork with a wooden horn, as well as a swell-fork tree also with a wooden horn. He free cuts with a band saw and shapes the pieces by hand with traditional tools: draw knives, spokeshaves and rasps.
Find his amazing story—how a New Zealand horseman came to make saddletrees for American cowboys—in the May 2020 issue of Western Horseman, “The Wright Tree.”