Featured Tippmann Customer
Fly’n -O- Saddlery
Ron A. Ostrom
258 Lane 10
Powell WY, 82435
What is your main product line?
My line consists of mainly 2 products. The first product line is Custom Saddles and the second is custom saddle trees. I do dabble a little bit in saddle bags, breast collars and pack saddles.
Where and under whom did you first study saddle making?
I first studied saddle making under Land Frazier in Powell Wyoming. I then met up with Master Tree and Saddle Maker Fred Harsant and continued the adventure into specialty saddles from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
By Working closely with Fred between 1997-2001 I furthered my knowledge of saddle building. Fred move back to Australia in 2001, but we continually stay in touch and share patterns and discuss ways to improve fit and design with horses around the world.
What are the main tools in your leather crafting shop?
All of the tools I used are hand made, nothing automated. All knives, edgers, punches are also hand made.
What was the most important factor in deciding to purchase a Boss Hand Stitcher to aid in your creations?
I liked the fact that the Boss is hand powered. This gives the user the ability to sew at their own pace, stitch by stitch. The more control you have over the machine, the less apt you are to make mistakes allowing you to complete a higher quality piece.
The Boss is a wonderful machine and serves a vital purpose in my saddle shop, where I have several pieces of equipment. I currently own 2 Boss Hand Stitchers. I purchased my first Boss in the late 1990’s and acquired my second Boss a few years later through a sewing contest in Sheridan Wyoming.
What is the process you follow when making a custom product for a customer?
I start by measuring the horse and the rider to build a saddle that will fit their animal and themselves as well as many other animals of similar size. I use all hand tools for carving the tree, laced with bull rawhide and then build the saddle with nearly all primitive hand tools. I use only natural products, such as wood, rawhide, leather, metal and wool when crafting the saddle.
Even though you have more work than time will allow, who do you belive to be your direct competition in the market place?
There are very few complete saddle makers in the business today. In my opinion, they are just as busy as I am, if not busier.
How did you get started in Leather?
I was approximately 8 Yrs old, living in Rock Springs, Wyoming when I joined the 4 H Program and competed in the Leather craft category which my father was actively involved with. My dad built his own saddles by hand, mostly for hobby. I really enjoyed working with my father, and soon realized that I shared his passion for leather crafting and saddle making.
I continued leather crafting during my younger years and right into college. During college, I competed on the rodeo team and made gear as well as repaired gear for myself and my teammates. These items included vests, saddles, riggins and other items.
What types of saddles do you specialize in building?
I build mostly late 1800’s half seats, A-Forks with high cantles.
When did you start your own saddle shop?
It was the late 1980’s My brother, my father and I were able to purchase Lane Fraziers saddle shop as he wanted the trade to continue and Lane was physically unable to build saddles. I was in the 10th grade and though $2,500 was a lot of money to me at the time, the business seemed to be a great bargain. This started our business and continued as we purchased several other shops over the years.
On average, how many saddles do you make per year?
The answer to this question has actually varied a great deal from year to year, but I would say that 1993 -2000 was the time period in which I was building the highest number of saddles at around 15 per year. Since then, I have reduced the number of saddles to 2-3 per year.
Since reducing the numbers of saddles to 2-3 per year, I have been able to concentrate more effort on one of my other true passions, teaching clinics on proper fit, trees, saddle construction and how it relates to proper riding.
What trade shows do you attend each year?
The only trade show, which I participate in, is Sheridan in Sheridan Wyoming.
How do you market yourself and your product line?
I have been very fortunate in that my line and quality have established a well-known reputation. I am several years out on orders and have plenty of work. I do not have to. My product line speaks for itself and I have been able to enjoy building saddles of my interests.
What are some basic tips you would give to an individual who is looking to get started in the leather crafting industry?
- Start Small.
- It is best to stay with non-mechanical tools as much as possible.
- Quality, quality, quality is the most important thing to remember.
- The slower, the more primitive, the better.
- Most importantly, do the job right and it will last forever.