I was raised in Willcox AZ, where I spent many hours on horseback at my grandfather's ranch or our 40 acre spread just outside of town gathering cattle or training colts. For as long as I can remember, I've been interested in leather and the fascinating creations and tools of the cowboy trade. Not only their beauty but their purpose as everyday tools for me and my family.
I would try to persuade Mom to take me to the local saddle shop just so I could observe all the saddles and tack. I always wanted to learn how they made everything, but by the time I was old enough to understand the intricacies, the saddle shop closed. Mr. Thomas passed away and his stepson, Randy Price, had moved away. I had no one to teach me.
One year for Christmas I was surprised with a beginner Tandy Leather craft set. I had some basic stamping tools and a couple projects with instructions. I was set, but I didn't know how to use any of the tools. I found out that an uncle of mine had been tooling leather belts and wallets for many years and was quite good at it. He came over to the house and gave a lengthy lesson on how to properly use my equipment. As soon as I felt confident enough to get started, 2 seconds later, I started on my first belt. I was hooked!
I couldn't afford to keep buying the leather or the kits to continue making, learning, and refining my skills until I had grown up, moved away and had a family of my own. I always have had a passion for leather and being creative with it. So I dove back in and have been refining and developing my skills until today.
I researched and visited with as many saddle makers and leather craftsmen as I could over the years and have been able to finally learn to how to make saddles. You could say I am mostly self taught, with a little help along the way. I enjoy the process and creativity you can express with each piece, but the function and fit are the most important. After spending hours in saddles myself, I understand that it has to fit correctly not only for the cowboy or cowgirl riding, but more importantly for the horse you're riding.
I spend hours on each saddle perfecting the seat and design of each saddle to meet the exact specifications required for each individual horse and rider.
Not only am I a custom saddle maker, I am a veteran of the rodeo world. Riding bucking horses was another passion of mine. Throughout the year's rodeoing, my buddies along with many competitors had me making them saddles, tack and their fancy multicolored rodeo chaps. What a great way to promote my leather "hobby." Well, it took off and I was able to transform my hobby into a business.
I got to make money with my leather shop and be on the rodeo trail. Life couldn't be better! On January 13, 2008, things changed for me. I was injured in a rodeo accident. I had broken my back. Luckily, I was not paralyzed. It could not rodeo for a while and when I could go back again I just couldn't compete the same. Yes, I did win more rodeos that year, but was my last year to compete. I am hopeful that I may return someday. For now I am content to be a rodeo official, judging the rodeos and being involved.
I can still work and be creative with my first passion in life, LEATHER!
K. Adam Tanner