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Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Old World Craftsmanship at Bison Saddlery

 

May 2012 issue

 

     

 Steve Stefely, owner of Bison Saddlery in Helena , Montana , learned his craft straight out of high school by apprenticing for nine years under a saddler in Illinois who had earned his Master Saddler Certificate in Germany during the 1930s.

            “We did pretty much everything,” says Steve. “In addition to a retail saddle shop, we built and repaired English and Western saddles, fine harness, and even camel saddles, elephant harness, antique car seat restorations, and traditional Lipizzaner saddles and tack.”

After learning all he could, Steve traveled west to work on cattle ranches and for outfitters packing into the back country — rounding out his early education with work experience.

Twenty-nine years ago he opened his own business, Bison Saddlery, and still carries on the Old World tradition by building and repairing custom English and Western saddles and tack, and producing unique leather goods, including historical and reenactment pieces like Revolutionary War era saddle bags, pommel holsters, cartridge boxes, and portmanteaus.  

 

Old World Craftmanship at Bison Saddlery, Helena, MT

            Steve began learning about English saddle fitting during his apprenticeship. He followed up by worked with a combination of veterinarians, chiropractors and riders to understand the muscular -skeletal structure of a horse and how to apply that to good saddle fit.

            “Saddle fitting is especially important for a beginning rider,” explains Steve. “Trainers often blame a new rider for problems that are caused by a poor fit.”

            Steve fits saddles for all levels of riding — from beginners to Olympic level equestrians.

            “One top rider was having trouble with her horse sticking on one lead during dressage,” says Steve. “I found uneven flocking in the saddle panels and fixed it. When she got back on her horse, he started off on that lead right off the bat.”

            Steve also gives seminars and clinics on saddle fitting, where a variety of horses demonstrate a good fitting saddle.

            For more information, call 406-449-7231 or visit www.bisonsaddlery.com. Visit the store at 6220 Jasper Road , Helena , Montana .

 

Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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