NRS Ranch Fundamentals of Saddle Making Clinic


Learn the basics of saddle making from NRS's own master saddle maker John David Huey and John Willemsma.

J. David Huey


The NRS Saddle Shop Manager, J. David Huey, has been in the Saddle shop business for 25 years. He has previously worked for Cajun Saddlery, M.L. Leddy's, Luskey/Ryon's Saddlery, Murray Leather and Cowboy Tack, where he worked with our very own, Sonny Miller. David has one daughter, three grandchildren, and one great-grandson and he enjoys team roping and educating folks on the finer points of saddle making.

A custom saddle is a saddle maker's canvas. It starts with a detailed drawing and morphs into a beautiful piece of leather artwork. It's a pleasure to have a saddle that defines you with brands, logos, flowers, patterns or just about anything you can dream up. Work closely with our saddle makers to design the saddle of your dreams.

John Willemsma


John Willemsma first started building saddles in 1976 by attending a trade school in Amarillo, Texas. After a year there John traveled though out the west working for saddle shops in Kansas , Texas and New Mexico before opening his own shop in 1986, LJ’s Custom Saddlery in Guthrie, OK. Owing a small store and shop in town for 5 years and then moving to a location across from the Lazy E Ranch and arena for 23 years. During these years John developed an appreciation and and eye for fine cowboy horse gear, working to fine tune his trade and his understanding of the needs of both the horse and rider. Having both worked on ranches and competed in the arena gave him a hands on understanding of the “How and Why” of building saddles that work.

Throughout the years, John always had a desire to fine tune his work and became aware of an organization called The TRADITIONAL COWBOY ARTS ASSOCIATION, first by attending a floral carving workshop taught by Dale Harwood and Don King both founding members, then spending time in the shops of both Dale Harwood and Canadian saddle maker Chuck Stormes. The inspiration that these saddle makers passed on to him lead him to apply for membership and he was voted in as a member in 2008 .

Over the last 10 years through the annual fall show and sale of the TCAA John has had the opportunity to create many "One of a Kind" works that have pushed his creativity and his desire for fine craftsmanship. After 42 years as a custom saddle maker, lead him to help other artists in their pursuit of always improving.

John now lives in Westcliffe, Colorado with his wife Debbie, who is herself, an accomplished horse women.  Both create fine works pursue a lifestyle that tells The Story of the West.

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