Making Saddles The Old Fashioned
By Laura Whildin
Eddie Fluke grew up in the business of saddle
making. As a child who loved horses, he always was interested in the leather
work business. Unfortunately, most old-fashioned saddle makers kept their
trade a secret. "When I was younger the old saddle makers wouldn’t tell
you how to do anything. You could go in their shops and they would quit
When he graduated from Fairview High School
in Boulder several old-fashioned saddle makers took him under their wings
and trained him in the art. Now he operates Outback Saddlery located at
6850 N. 63rd Street. He and his wife Linda design and create leather work
completely by hand from the small rustic shop behind their home.
Outback Saddlery’s primary business is to repair
and build custom saddles and cowboy boots. Custom saddles are advantageous
because they can be fitted to both the rider and horse. A rider can choose
his or her own design and add silver decorations.
The Flukes also create and repair chaps, coats
and leather work of all kinds. "When you go to a store to buy a saddle
it is pretty much made to fit the norm. You can change a custom saddle
any way you want to suit your taste."
Eddie started the business in Montana 27 years
ago and has been at his current location for 12 years. He decided to move
back to the Niwot area because he was raised here and because Boulder County
is "a very horse
While the base price for a custom saddle is
about $1,850, the final cost depends on how much hand tooling and silver
a customer desires.
A saddle takes between three and four weeks
to make. The saddle tree, or bottom of the saddle, is chosen to fit the
curve of the horse’s back; then the saddle is built up to fit the rider.
"I try to stay current on what the new fads
are in tack and in the boot world so that I can do the best job possible
of repairing a product or building a new one," Eddie said.
This year Eddie was a judge for the 4-H Leather
Crafts Category at the Boulder County Fair, which he found very rewarding.
"It is something I can give back to the community, to try and help the
kids who want to do leather work and maybe give them some ideas on how
they can improve their work."
He also has been a judge for the American Quarter
Horse Association for the past 21 years. "That gives me an opportunity
to go to different parts of the country and see what they are using for
Eddie sums up the goal for his business by saying,
"We would like to be known for [the] high-quality work that we do for people
and have them back as repeat customers. I want to turn out every piece
of repair or new product that I do as if I were doing it for myself."
The Flukes are able to control the quality fo
their products because they are the only employees. He really enjoys every
aspect of his job. "My favorite thing is getting to know the people who
come in here. I get to meet a lot of people who have horses."
For more information visit Outback Saddlery
at 6850 N. 63rd Street Longmont. or call 303-530-4449.