Saddle up! Oklahoma cowboy proudly continues family legacy of crafting custom saddles
At a time in which scores of things are mass-developed in places considerably exterior of the United States, Drew Clark’s operate stands tall.
Clark, 54, is a customized saddlemaker in Colcord, Oklahoma, and crafts just about every development by hand in his personal shop.
A fourth-generation cowboy and saddlemaker, he owns Drew Clark Saddles at Veach Saddlery. His fantastic-grandfather was the famed saddlemaker Monroe Veach, while his grandfather, Charley Beals, was also a observed saddlemaker, as Clark explained to Fox Information Digital in a cellphone job interview.
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Monroe Veach started offering saddles in 1919 in Trenton, Missouri, stated Clark. Just after Veach’s daughter married Charley Beals, the two opened a western shop in Oklahoma.
At the keep, the Beals had been able to offer the items they just about every created making use of their particular person talents. “He built saddles and my grandmother created apparel,” Clark claimed. “And they offered garments there at the retail outlet.”
When the Beals retired in 1985, they marketed the shop and moved to a ranch in Colcord, a compact city in northeastern Oklahoma, claimed Clark.
In the late 1980s, Clark, alongside with his parents, built what is now the existing saddle shop on the Colcord ranch.
“We have my mom and dad — they have a ranch here. They operate cattle and horses,” he explained. Clark and his wife, Darbi, have been married for 29 a long time.
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It was important to Clark to spotlight his heritage in his new organization.
Skill throughout the generations
“Veach Saddlery, which is what the original business was termed, is now ‘Drew Clark Saddles at Veach Saddlery,’” he said. “We liked to hold the name in the small business,” he mentioned.
With over 100 years below their belts, Clark mentioned his family’s business enterprise is “a single of the longest working relatives-owned saddleries still in procedure in the U.S.”
Clark originally labored in building as a youthful adult, he mentioned, but it was not lengthy ahead of he was lured into functioning in the household trade.
“It’s just really hard not to do it,” he explained. “You’ve got acquired everything there, and all the applications and machinery. And I guess it took me right up until I was in my mid-20s to figure out that’s what I wanted to do.”
“I acquired a great deal from my grandfather as a child, just currently being in and out, working around my store.”
Clark explained that because he had been close to saddles his total lifestyle, he more or less learned the trade from his grandfather and father.
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“I realized a ton from my grandfather as a child, just currently being in and out, running all around my store. And my father assisted me a ton when I began,” he explained.
“My grandpa passed absent in ’94,” said Clark. “My father, when he and Mom were being initial married — he labored for them in the western keep there, and helped Grandpa make saddles that he understood a whole lot about, way too.”
He extra, “So if I acquired a issue, he is the person to go to.”
All personalized orders
The process of generating saddles is various for each client, as each and every purchase is custom made, Clark claimed.
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“The initial factor I do is get in touch with and purchase a tree, which is what you get started on to make a saddle. It’s wood lined with rawhide,” stated Clark, introducing that he works by using a “spot out in Utah” that can make them.
The “tree” has to match each the rider and the horse, explained Clark. He will specifically evaluate the horse and ascertain how the saddle requires to suit.
“And when I purchase trees, I get individuals measurements and technical specs. That is a very good detail about custom made,” he included. “They in shape both equally you and the horse.”
Every single saddle has a unique carving, “like metalwork,” distinct to what the consumer requests.
That course of action takes about two to three months, he mentioned — but after the tree arrives, the customized leather function commences.
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“It is really hard to demonstrate the specific process. There is a large amount to it, but yeah, you just retain placing leather-based on there where by you want it,” mentioned Clark with a chuckle.
Each individual saddle has a distinctive carving, “like metalwork,” unique to what the customer requests, said Clark.
Commonly, he carves “bouquets and stems and leaves all intertwining.”
“All the things has flow, you know — the leaves and almost everything in the similar way,” he claimed.
“You can do it so quite a few techniques and [create] distinctive layouts with that, but it is really generally the basics like leaves and vines and flowers.”
Spouse and children legacy
As for the up coming era of saddlemakers, Clark said that he has two sons.
His eldest, Tyler, is a soccer coach, although his youngest, Drake, may perhaps be the a person who takes up the family reins. Drake “assists me out pretty a bit,” he mentioned.
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Apart from the custom made mother nature of his items, Clark thinks that the leather he utilizes is superior than that of the “assembly-line” saddles from Mexico and South The usa that can be purchased for significantly less than his custom get the job done.
“They are all accurately the same,” he explained.
“Mine, each individual one’s distinctive. Of study course, undertaking it by hand, you happen to be in no way going to have the specific very same matter each individual time.”
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Clark stated he are unable to think about a lifetime other than the a single he is dwelling at his ranch.
“I can not visualize dwelling in a metropolis with folks all all around me all the time,” he stated.
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“Out below, you can be by you if you want. I appreciate the function. And yeah, I like being all around the cattle and the horses all day.”