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Saddle Up

Meet Jesse Smith, saddlemaker.


For the past 47 years, rancher Jesse Smith has handcrafted intricate, ornamental leather saddles for fellow cowboys, most recently on his 14,000-acre cattle ranch in the southeast corner of Colorado. Each custom-ordered saddle can take anywhere from 45 to 300 hours to complete, and Smith, 72, finishes about 15 every year. If you’re a hands-on type, sign up for Smith’s renowned five-week saddle-making course. Each student (he only takes one at a time) leaves with a saddle—or rather, a work of art—built with his or her own hands.

5280.com Exclusive: Watch Smith work in his studio here.


This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of 5280.

Daliah Singer, 5280 Contributor

Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.

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