Saddle Building School
Saddles offered for sale by the Montana Horseman Saddle Building School are from a 50
I started building saddles in Helena Montana in 1964 under the guidance and direction
of Jack Miller. Jack was a master saddle maker who, during his career, worked for the
most famous saddle shops in the west. These included Visalia Saddlery California,
Garcia Saddlery Elko Nevada, and Hanleys of Pendleton Oregon. Jack Miller died in 1974.
I have studied saddles all my life, repaired and restored saddle of all descriptions. The
saddles in this collection represent a history that was a major part of the westward
movement and our heritage.
There is not a lot of written history, most in fairly general and conflicting. Many of the
older saddles do not have a makers stamp. This is because many of the saddleries
allowed their saddle makers to “moonlight”but they could not use the company stamps.
Many of the saddle makers had acquired the skill but operated a small production not
warranting a company stamp.
The saddles and historical research provide a visual perspective of part of our heritage
that has barely survived the passage of time.
Over the years I have trained more than one hundred students to build saddles. Many
have come to the school from foreign countries as far away as South Africa.
Owner and Instructor
Montana Horseman Saddle Building School
The Saddles will be offered as a collection for a short period of time.
If you have any questions or would like to see additional pictures of any of the saddles, let
Frank Meanea Saddle.
Frank Meanea maker stamp, Wyoming Territory
Frank Meanea was a nephew of E. L. Gallatin who could be called the “father of the
Western Saddle.” Gallatin was an apprentice with Thornton Grimsley and latter with Isreal
Landis of Independence, Missouri. Gallatin was a business man and after selling a wagon
load of saddles in the gold fields of Cherry Creek, (Denver Colorado) in 1860, he was on
his way to becoming the most prominent business man promoting the Western stock
E. L. Gallatin had two nephews, Frank and Theodore Meanea. He put Frank in a saddle
shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1873 and Theodore in a saddle tree factory in Denver.
During the 1880's the Frank Meanea saddles were regarded as some of the best stock
saddle available. In Teddy Blue Abbott’s book, “We Pointed them North”, Abbott makes a
point of declaiming “saddles that did not hurt a back were not made until 1883", Abbott
would have been most familiar with the Cheyenne saddles since he was from Nebraska
and the Miles City saddles where he spent his later years.
The Frank Meanea saddle pictured is in good condition with only minor repairs. It has a
loop seat with separate front jockeys. I would date the saddle in the mid 1880's. It has a
Wyoming territory stamp that would predate the state hood of 1890.
The bucking rolls are also of great historical value. They are stamped “George Lawrence
Co., Portland Or 1857. 1857 is the year the George Lawrence Company was founded in
Portland Oregon. The George Lawrence Company became the largest produce of
saddles in the Northwest. Many were shipped from the West Coast to the gold strike area
in Alaska and the Yukon territory.
The Charles M. Russell Museum in Great Falls Montana has his Frank Meanea saddle on
display. The saddle is similar to the one pictured.
W. B. Ten Eyer Side Saddle
Very little information is available about W. B. Ten Eyer. The side saddle has his makers
stamp sating the saddle Montana Territorial which would pre date state hood of 1889.
This side saddle was constructed without the large fender which was placed on some fo
the side saddles. The purpose was to protect clothing.
The side saddle dates back to the early 1300's in England.
This side saddle is identical in style to the one made for Charles Goodnights wife in 1890
in Pueblo Colorado. Mrs. Goodnight accompanied her husband on some of his long cattle
drives up the Goodnight Loving trail.
1880's Oregon Saddle
The saddle is center fire, single rigging with a loop seat stirrup leathers.
Although there is not a makers stamp, I am fairly certain it is a George Lawrence saddle
from Portland, Oregon probably built by an employee. This was not uncommon. The
saddle companies allowed their makers to make saddles on their own time, but were not
allowed to use the company maker's stamp.
The tree, style and basket stamp is identical to another George Lawrence saddle I have.
The George Lawrence Saddlery was the oldest established saddle company in the
Northwest. It was established in Portland Oregon in 1857.
The saddle was made for E. Olcott carved in the front of the cantle. The skill of the maker
is evident throughout the saddle. Edward Olcott was born in Pilot Rock Oregon and
moved to Red Lodge Montana in 1893. In later years he was a fairly successful business
man of Red Lodge. The Olcott family sold the saddle with other family belongings that had
been stored in the Red Lodge family owned funeral home.
Edwar Olcott, in his early years, was a horseman and lived with the Umatilla Indians until
he was a young man. He probably had the saddle made by a George Lawrence saddle
maker for his anticipated move to the Montana Territory.
The saddle is in fairly good condition with only minor repairs.
1870’s California Saddle
Separate front, side and back jockeys
The saddle is in good condition, it came from a Montana homestead.
The style of construction is typical of the early to mid 1870’s. it has a half seat with
separate side jockeys. The unique construction is a mixture of Colorado—Texas as well
and Oregon and California influences. It does not have a makers stamp which is not
unusual for the age of the saddle.
Based on years of repairing these older saddles and studying the construction, I believe
the following conclusions would be fairly accurate.
The saddle an Oregon – California saddle but the rigging is from the Texas – California
style. At that time the Oregon – California saddle rigging was placed at the center fire
position. This saddle is double rigged typical of the plains saddle that came up from
Texas. This saddle has not been altered and has the refined style of the California
saddles of that era.
I believe the saddle maker built this saddle maker built this saddle in California, but was
influenced by possibly having moved to California with Texas saddle making skills or any
number of unknown factors. The style, craftsmanship are defiantly California. I believe
this to be a Tony Ladesma tree.
Tony Ladesma was a tree maker who worked for T Salazar in Visalia, California in the late
1860’s. The Salazar saddles were considered to be the best in the region. They were
challenged a few years later by David Walker who learned his trade at he Main and
Winchester Saddlery in San Francisco. He also established a saddlery in Visalia, and
produced the famous Visalia stock saddle. L. D. Stone Company of San Francisco
established in 1852, made a tree known as the White River. It was a popular tree and very
similar to the Ladesma tree. The California saddlerys and the tree makers of that area all
had close connections and similar styles of trees and saddles.
Ladies Astride Saddle late 1890’s early 1900’s.
The ladies astride saddle were an experimental attempt to transition the side saddle to a
western type saddle. The saddle did not “catch on” and consequently only a few were
Although there is not a makers stamp, I believe the saddle was built by the Herman Heiser
Saddlery in Denver Colorado. The accompanying photo was published in the fourth
annual publication by Dan and Sebie Hutchins, “Old Cowboy Saddles and Spurs.”
This astride saddle is identical in design. The padded seat stitching design is the same.
The only difference is the sheep skin covering of the bars similar to a McClellan military
It is the only astride saddle I have seen. Saddle makers I have contacted have never seen
or heard of the astride saddle.
Fred Mueller 1910 -1920 saddle
Fred Mueller was born in the mid 1860’s in St. Louis Missouri. He opened a saddle shop
in Denver Colorado in 1891. The shop continued after his death. Mueller was the first
saddle maker to make and sell a wide variety of horse tack.
This saddle has the traditional Mueller style of wrapping the seat leather high around the
The Fred Mueller saddles were recognized as a well built stock saddles that would accept
hard use. It was a popular cowboy stock saddle from the Denver area.
Frank Olzer Saddle
Frank Olzer began making saddles in Gillette Wyoming in 1910. In 1918 he moved to
Prescott Arizona and was owner of the Arizona Saddlery in Prescott Arizona. He operated
the saddlery until 1936. He later worked for the Carl Carlock Saddle Company in Phoenix
Arizona. Carlocks Stockman Catalogn called the “West’s est saddle maker since 1898.”
This saddle was built in Gillette Wyoming during his early career.
The horn is slightly bent forward. I have replaced many bent horns of this era of saddles.
They bent when the horse rolled over or went over backwards.
The short seat, wide swells, and high cantle made this an excellent bronc saddle.
John Clark started his saddlery in Portland Oregon in 1878. He died in 1923 and the
family continued the business until 1927.
Many of the Clark saddles of this era had polished brass horns. The saddle developed
the name “bear trap” because of the swells that rolled back. The Bear trap saddle lasted
only a few years because of the danger it presented to the rider. If a horse fell, the rider
and difficulty getting loose from the saddle and away for the horse.
The saddle is typical of the Oregon Northwest saddles of the early 1900’s.
Charles Coggshsll of Miles City Montana was perhaps the best known saddle maker in the
Montana in the early 1900’s. He was a good businessman and hired the best saddle
makers available. Klem Kathmann his foreman was responsible for many saddle
innovations that helped make Charles Coggshall famous.
Charles Coggshall bought out the Hugh Moran Saddlery in Miles City in 1895. In 1897 he
formed partnership with Al Furstnow, who also became quite famous. The partnership
only lasted a few years.
Coggshall sold the business to his partners in 1909, and the stamp was changed to “Miles
City Saddlery, Makers of the original Coggshall Saddles.
Victor Marden was born in the Dalles Oregon in 1874. He learned the saddle building
trade from a firm located near Forest Grove Oregon, called Farley and Trout. He opened
his saddlery in The Dalles, in 1900. He is said to have developed the swell fork saddle in
1904. He was recognized as a one of the finest craftsman in the Northwest.
The saddle has a separate cantle leather which was skivied to fit the back of the seat.
This technique was used in the 1870’s and 1880’s.
The padded seat in this saddle was advanced for the early 1900’s.
Victor Marden set the stage for craftsmanship in tooling and design. His saddles have
been copied by saddle makers who followed.
Bronc Committee Saddle 1920
I believe this saddle was built after 1919 when the committee saddle was approved by a
committee made up of four major rodeo producers. The meeting was led by Hamley’s of
Pendleton Oregon. The early bronc saddles had a horn as this one does. I believe this
saddle, although not stamped, was built by Jack Miller. Miller was a saddle maker at
Hamley’s during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Jack Miller was the saddle maker who helped me
get started building saddles. He had a basket stamp identical to the one used on this
The book “They Saddled the West” by Lee M. Rice had a picture of the Hamley bronc
saddle of 1920 that is identical this saddle in style and tooling design.
The horn was bent by a horse rolling over backwards or by rolling over the saddle.
E. J. Owenhouse Saddle Bozeman Montana
E. S. Owenhouse moved to Bozeman in 1889. He previously worked for a saddle shop in
Sheridan, Wyoming. I believe he may have worked for Frank Meanea because of the
saddle style and tree. The tree is typical of those used by Meanea. They were produced
by Theodore Meanea, Franks brother in Pueblo.
The saddle is rare as not many were made by Owenhouse. It is only second one I have
ever seen. The other belongs to the Owenhouse family who is in the Hardware business
in Bozeman. Shortly after coming to Montana, E.J. Owenhouse became a businessman
and formed a partnership to start the Owenhouse Hardware store.
The saddle has had the fenders and horn restored.
Frank Monow Saddle Sheridan Wyoming
This saddle dates around 1910. Franklin Pierce Monow was born in Ohio in 1862. He
moved to Sheridan Wyoming in the 1880’s. His saddle shop ran from 1890 to 1913 when
he sold out to Otto Ernst.
Al Firstnow Saddle Miles City Montana 1920’s
Albert F. Firstnow established the Al Firstnow Saddlery in Miles City Montana in 1884. He
went into partnership with Charles Coggshall in 1894. The partnership lasted until 1999.
Firstnow died in 1923.
The Firstnow saddles were used as stock saddles and were so popular with the ranch
hands and cowboys that they called their saddle their Firstnow.
This saddle shows the refined Firstnow tooling. The Firstnow building in Miles City still
Stock saddle Wyoming early 1900’s
This saddle is not stamped but I believe it is a Wyoming saddle. The tree, stamping and
style are similar to Frank Monow of Sheridan Wyoming. The tree is typical of Denver
Colorado of the early 1900’s.
This saddle came from a ranch which also had a stamped Frank Monow saddle which had
the same tree.
Schlafman Brothers Dalhart Saddle
The saddle is fairly typical of the 1920’s saddles when the seat transitioned from the loop
seat to a full seat.
Little information is available about the Schlafman Brothers.
The saddle construction, tooling design, and refinement is of high quality.
James Hunter Wilson Saddle, Denver Colorado
James Hunter Wilson was born in Indiana in 1848. His father J. D. Wilson was a saddle
maker for the 2nd Illinois Cavalry. James Wilson opened the J. H. Wilson Saddlery in
Denver in 1876.
The saddle is typical of the early 1900-1915 style.
Connlly Saddle Billings Montana
The saddle making Connolly’s built saddles that were in demand throughout the
northwest. John B. Connolly came to America from Ireland in 1870. His son’s Jack, Andy,
and Pat learned the trade from their father and came to Butte Montana in 1907. In 1912
Jack and Pat moved to Billings Montana. Later Andy moved to Klamath falls Oregon. Jack
also had a saddle shop in Livingston Montana. Their father eventually moved from Illinois
and worked in their saddle shop. He died while working on a saddle at the age of 86. Pat
the last of the brothers to pass away died in 1950. I believe this saddle was built in Pats
saddlery around 1920.
Charles Coggshall Saddle, Miles City Montana
This saddle is in fairly good condition, it is one of ht finely tooled Coggshall saddles of the
1915-1920’s that were popular on the ranches.
Charles Coggshall was a saddle maker in Miles City in 1895. He was a partner of the
famous saddle maker Al Firstnow. Coggshall was a prosperous businessman who hired
the best saddle makers available. His foreman was Clem Kathman who was innovative
and considered to be one of the finest craftsman in the northwest.
Coggshall was given credit for the plate three quarter rigging which compromised the
Texas/Colorado full rigging and the California/Oregon center fire rigging. It has been
stated in saddle history that the Miles City Saddlemakers turned out 4,000 saddles in one
year at the height of the cattle drive era.
Otto Ernst saddle Sheridan Wyoming 1960’s
Otto Ernst was born in Louisville Kansas in 1872. He moved to Sheridan Wyoming in
1900. Many of the famous Sheridan saddle makers worked for Otto Ernst, among them
was Don King of the King Saddlery. Otto’s oldest son Enest began building saddles in the
Ernst Saddlery in 1921. Otto died in 1938. This saddle would have been built by Ernest in
the early 1960’s.
Connolly Saddle Billings Montana.
This Connolly saddle is the finest workmanship I have ever seen in a saddle. I traded a
new custom saddle for this Connolly saddle. I have used it in the saddle building school to
demonstrate the craftsmanship. I sent a picture of this saddle to the Connolly Saddlery in
Billings for information. It was built by Chuck Harris who was married to Pat Connolly’s
daughter Alice. Pat was the last of the “saddle making Connolly’s.” I have met “old timers”
who knew Chuck Harris, they said he was known as the best saddle maker in Montana, but
was so slow it was hard to get one of his saddles. When I bought this saddle it had been
in storage for years.
John Connolly came to America from Ireland in 1870. His three sons Jack, Andy and Pat
came to Montana in 1907. They had three shops in Butte, Billings, and Livingston. Later
Andy opened a saddlery in Klamath Falls Oregon.
The Connolly saddle became legendary and were strong in competition with the famous
Miles City Coggshall and Furstnow saddles.
Church Harris learned his saddle making skills from the “saddle making Connelly’s.”
McClellan Saddle 1928 issue
This was the last model of the McClellan saddle to be issued. The wide fenders were
added to protect the uniforms. The leather is in good condition. The metal stirrups are
stamped “U.S. Army.”
McClellan Saddle 1928 issue
This was the last model of the McClellan saddle to be issued. The wide fenders were
added to protect the uniforms. The leather is in good condition. Leather covered stirrups.
Native American Indian Replica Saddle
The tree is rawhide covered and the seat is laced with rawhide and covered in buffalo
hide. The saddle has been ridden but is in good condition to excellent condition. The
underside of the bars are covered with buffalo hide. The replica is a Crow Indian mans
Replica Mountain Man Saddle, early 1800’s
The saddle has been used but is in good condition. The saddle was made to ride in a
reenactment of the mountain man rendezvous of the North West. It represents a type of
saddle used by the early trappers of the North West during the early 1800’s.
Very Early Mexican Santa Fe Saddle.
The horn top shows the tree rings. The fork was made fro m the trunk of a tree probably
elm, where it was forked. The trunk part was shaped for the horn. The saddle pockets
are stamped, “Tala Barteria Aquirre.”
Replica Hope style 1860’s Saddle
This saddle was built by Dale Moore, Montana Horseman Saddle School instructor to
demonstrate the 1860’s Hope Style Saddle. It has a half seat, leather covered rigging
rings with a Sam Stagg Type rigging. It has been used in the saddle building school to
demonstrate style and saddle techniques of the 1860’s era.
The tree is a Hadlock and Fox Hope tree. The Sam Stagg rigging was designed and used
by Joseph Alexander. Samstagg, was born in 1853. He established the Samstagg
Saddlery in Visalia, California in the 1850’s.
The tree is and outgrowth of the tree’s made my Adalophus Hope. Hope is known to have
been in Texas around 1846. The Hope saddle was used by the First and Second Cvbalry
reiments around 1855. Hopes greatest contribution to the evolvement of the American
Saddle was the tree style. Many of the saddles that followed were called Hope Style
trees. The are still made today.
J.S. Collins Replica Saddle 1870’s
The famous Collins Plains saddle had it’s beginning with a U. S President. It started when
John Collins father, Eli Collins, a saddle maker bought his leather from a small tannery in
Ohio. The tannery was owned by Jesse R. Grant. The two Collins brothers John and
Gilbert formed a friendship with Jesse Grants son Ulysses. When Ulysses became
president, John Collins was awarded a trading post at Laramie Wyoming. Later he was
appointed Secretary of the Sioux Indian Commission in 1875. The Collins brothers
became financially able establish several saddle shops in the West. John Collins is given
credit for a heavier work stock saddle that provided comfort for the rider. When Teddy
Blue Abbott in his book, “We Pointed Them North” said the saddles they were riding on the
cattle drives were causing “sore backed horses.” He was talking about the early Texas
saddles. He continued to say they did not have a good saddle until the 1880’s. He was
then talking about the Collins saddle. This Collins replica saddle was built by Dale Moore,
Montana Saddle Building School Instructor. It was built to show saddle school students the
technique which became the famous plains saddle of the west.