Front Range

Saddle Up

Meet Jesse Smith, saddlemaker.

January 2012


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. Exclusive: Watch Smith work in his studio here