Tack Up at Hamleys

Hamley and CO have delivered superior craftsmanship to horsemen of all sorts since 1883. Initially, the saddle shop provided harnesses and saddles and became known in the west as the “Finest saddles a man could ride” as stated from cowboyshowcase.com.

Hank Moss

Hank Moss, founder of Square Dot Saddlery and saddle maker with twelve year’s experience at Hamleys, gave a workshop presentation and tour of the saddle shop for Women Writing the West members at their annual conference.

He noted that Hamleys is famous and provides not only the “Association” style saddles for professional saddle bronc riders throughout the United States and Canada but the Wade tree developed by legendary horseman Tom Dorrance and named it after his friend, Clifford Wade.

Hamley is so renowned, its site is a historical landmark in the city of Pendleton, OR, and has high traffic during the famous annual Pendleton Round-UP, “LET’ER BUCK!”

In Friday’s workshop, Moss shared that western saddle trees are made of fir or pine and noted the correct verbiage of a fork for a western saddle and pommel for English. Did you know there are only 6-8 saddle makers in the US? I had no idea.

Moss told us the ins and outs of saddle making and shared photos of 1870 and 1880s saddles, including a woman’s side saddle. On Sunday’s tour of the saddle shop, we saw, felt, smelled old leather of said saddle. What a treat! He even shared how to ride one correctly, squeeze crossed legs, toes pointed toward the ground. This way, women stuck on the leather and in many instances, outrode men.

Side Saddle

He talked about bent wood stirrups, Spanish war saddles, the importance of using Neatsfoot oil to condition the leather, how to add beeswax for rough-out saddles, shared photos of the McClellan saddles used in the military, and the beautiful tooling used on so many saddles.

The Sheridan-Style saddle caught my eyes. The wild rose floral tooling, created by craftsman and saddle maker Don King, is nothing short of stunning.

WWW members learned that tooling copies nature like the wild rose, daffodils, and even animals. The old swastika used to be a “good luck” symbol by Native Americans until Hitler used it for evil.

If you are ever in the Pendleton, OR, area, I urge you to take time to visit Hamleys and CO. Your sense of wonder will certainly come alive.


Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of the holiday, Change of Heart is on sale this week for .99 cents. Get your copy here!


Look for advanced reader copies, games, and giveaways on my Tales of the West Facebook page. Get ready for the December giveaway!

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  1. Christy Jones Dobkins says:

    Hamleys ❣…. gotta go to Round-up this year

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      I love the Round-Up!