Modern Master Craftsman
John P. Hervey

Photos and Story by Lyn Odom-Cherenzia

Up until the age of 38 John P. Hervey had worn many a hat - none of them a cowboy hat. John had been a Bank Officer, and an Account Executive for the phone company, and also a substitute mail carrier and did a little acting after he "ran away to be a cowboy." At the age of 38 John quit the city way of living and tried his hand at ranch management. He did pretty danged well teaching himself to ride, work livestock and live the cowboy way. He even tried his hand at leatherwork. Ends up he was real danged good at doing leatherwork, so he kept at it. The ranch foreman job came to an end in '99, so John just kept on working leather. For over 15 years he made saddlebags, chaps, halters and such and then decided at the age of 51 to try his hand at saddle making. He was good at that too. John traveled out to Loveland, Colorado, and went to a saddle making school owned and run by a fella named Dusty Johnson. It was two solid weeks of one-on-one workmanship and John found he had what it took to make a real nice hand made saddle.

John began making his first saddle in the month of January, completed it, and sold his first one in October. John makes six or seven saddles a year and the average time put into a saddle is between 50-60 hours. That's 3-4 months work with a round knife, a skiver knife, mallets, punches, needles, saddle stitchers and awls. The time is put into custom trees and leathers, hand sewing cantle bindings, horn caps, and machine sewing the skirts. Leather has to be just the 'right amount of wet' to shape it and tool it and every custom saddle maker has his own preference of moisture content in the leather to make his work unique. John's completed saddles are 100% ready to ride with their custom mohair cinches, latigo and stirrups. "The two things that are most important in my finished saddles are the comfort of the rider and the comfort of the horse," said John.

John has measured a horse and rider for a custom fit but John went on to say that his saddles are built to fit 90% of the riding horses and riders out there.

"The satisfaction in saddle making is seeing the finished saddle and people's reactions and compliments." John also specializes in fitting women to a saddle. "The way women are built requires a comfortable seat. Horsewomen should have a saddle that fits them well and offers security."

John lives on his ranch in Flatonia, Texas, and has his shop there as well. The base price for a custom saddle starts at $1800.00. Depending on the amount of tooling or special requests, prices will vary.

NOTE: John P. Hervey has retired (Updated 8-5-14)

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