RIDING TALL IN THE SADDLE!! KING’S SADDLERY!!

When Cookie and me need a saddle or rope where do we go…well to the best of course King’s Saddlery and King’s Ropes!

And where do I go when the cowboy in my current work in progress needs a top of the line saddle…well he just moseys on over to King’s Saddlery!

Born in Douglas, Wyoming, in 1923, Don King was the son of an itinerant ranch hand, Archie King.  By the age of 14, Don learned to tool leather as he supported himself with odd jobs at ranches and rodeos.  He sold and traded wallets, belts and other small gear.  “I traded for pants, shirts, hats, spurs, anything. Sometimes I ended up with nothing.”

King worked on ranches throughout the West, finally settling down in Sheridan, Wyoming in 1946. There he became an apprentice to expert saddle maker Rudy Mudra.  King assisted in the building of saddles and created piecework for local cowboys.

After acquiring his own ranch he committed his time to that enterprise until in 1957, when he devoted himself full-time to saddlemaking and leather tooling.  King preferred to focus on highly ornamental trophy saddles like those given as prizes in rodeo competitions. During this time, he developed his own style of tooling.  A style characterized by wild roses “with a distinctive shape, as though they were viewed from a 45-degree angle.”

By 1961, when King opened his own business on Main Street in Sheridan, he was well-known among ranchers and rodeo stars for his impeccable craftsmanship.  This artistry and precision is best demonstrated in the making of the saddle type he created, the Sheridan-style saddle. The Sheridan-style saddle is “in its general form, a classic high plains roping saddle: short, square skirts; a low cantle with a broad Cheyenne roll…” But the most distinctive element is the wild rose (Sheridan Rose) tooling. King also used unusually deep stamping to give “greater three-dimensional depth to his tooling…”

Sheridan Style Saddle

His skill earned King the PRCA World Championship Saddle contract for 6 years. Some of these saddles are displayed at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and PRCA Rodeo Hall of Fame.  The honors King received for his works include: Chester A. Reynolds Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, The National Heritage Fellowship for the Folk Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Governor’s Quality Business Award for the State of Wyoming.  King was also a founding member of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association.

Through the years King’s saddles have been acquired by everyone from local Wyoming cowboys to celebrities and dignitaries such as: Queen Elizabeth, Ronald Reagan, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

King’s Saddlery & King’s Ropes is a must stop in Sheridan. Not only can you walk back to the rope shop and pick out your very own custom rope, but there is a Museum off the rope shop filled with saddles of any style along with Old West collectibles. But beware it is extremely easy to walk in empty-handed and walk out with empty pockets…I speak from experience! But guess where I’ll be next week…?

 

SOURCES:

http://www.sheridanwyoming.org/history/buildingsmuseums/kings-museum/

http://www.kingropes.com/thekings.htm

http://www.cowboysaddlery.com/donking.html

**Photos are mine except the one of the Sheridan style saddle it is property of www.sheridanwyoming.org**

16 thoughts on “RIDING TALL IN THE SADDLE!! KING’S SADDLERY!!

  1. Oh my Lord. Reading this makes me yearn to head back to Sheridan and walk through King’s Saddlery, again. Love the smell of leather and seeing the detail tooled into all the gear. Thanks for a trip through memory lane. I guess, once you’ve lived in Sheridan, it’s always home no matter where you’re currently living.

    • It really is quite a place! I loved walking through the shop, and there’s no way to see everything in that museum in a day. :) Thanks so much for stopping by, Jaye!

      –Kirsten Lynn

    • BTW, what do I have to do to get my picture to show when I make a comment? The CAPTCHA phrase is still a trick for me to conquer. Loving your blog, don’t want to miss anything. :)

      • Thanks so much, Jaye! I’m thrilled you enjoy the blog!! :) I’m really not sure about the picture thing. The only people whose pictures seem to come through are those with websites and blogs of their own. Sorry about the CAPTCHA, but it sure has saved on the spam received.

        –Kirsten Lynn

  2. When I first saw this title, I thought of Don King, Mike Tyson’s manager (or whatever he was). THANK YOU for giving me a much better option to associate that name with. We English riders tend to be a bit uppity about our gear, but I have to say his work sounds (and looks) fabulous.

    • LOL, Ally!! I’m so glad I could give you a much better association! :) King’s saddles are all gorgeous works of art! And his son’s took over and kept the same quality work.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

      –Kirsten Lynn

    • Anne, thanks so much for stopping by!! Glad you liked the blog, and the saddles! They are gorgeous. Unfortunately, the pictures don’t even capture all the details.

      –Kirsten Lynn

    • Amen, Jacquie! Some of the saddles they had back in the museum were out of this world! I wish I would have snapped more pictures, but I was a bit overwhelmed. Gorgeous pieces of art is right. :)

      Thanks for stoppin’ by the campfire!

      –Kirsten Lynn

  3. Great post. We have Calvin Allen Saddlery near here. By the way, just where were you practicin’ that lassoo makin’ last night?

    • Thanks so much Caroline! I’m sure down your way, you have quite a few talented saddle makers! :) Ah now, Caroline, you know a lady never talks about where she braids rope. ;)

      Thanks for stoppin’ by!

      –Kirsten Lynn

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