Western Leather Academy



Pedro and his studentsDave PRATER, Pedro et Gene KIRKENDALL

The uses of a saddle go far beyond the romantic image of the west.

Today’s horse owners needs have changed considerably as the old transportation mode has become a popular hobby. From feed, veterinary and farrier, tack and training accessories, grooming products and the colossal equipment related to a facility, the horse industry is one of the leaders in the country’s economy.
To meet the new demand, the saddle making business has changed as well. The production line companies offer a large variety of products for the sportsman, occasional rider and such… while the artisan saddle maker produces 2 or 3 items per month. With such a competition, it’s easy think that those craftsmen are getting to be a rare breed!

Nevertheless, the special needs, the fit and the quality of a custom made product is attracting a consistent clientele, still allowing craftsmen to make a living.
This is a way of life that fascinates many people. Leather is considered as a noble material, and the process in which a raw substance is beautifully transformed draw admiration. The various and complex feelings associated with creativity ultimately lead to the sense of self fulfillment, from the excitements of starting a new project to the frustrations of the steps on the way to improvement.

Also, operating a home based business offers some priceless conveniences, and making a living with a passion certainly answer the need for a better quality of life.
Finally, the emerging interest of collectors has promoted the top hands to new levels of artistry, therefore contributing to the preservation of the artisans skill and the role of traditional crafts in the cowboy culture of the American West.


There are 5 options to choose from. The saddle(s) and the patterns built are for the student to keep (estimated value per saddle : $ 3 000). This can make a significant reduction in the education costs.

There will be from 1 to 4 students at the time. Each one will work on a professional heavy duty bench, with adequate light and a draw down.
All the necessary equipment and tools are provided to the students for the duration of the class.

The schedule is based on a Monday thru Friday, 9 am to 5pm, 10 week program is 400 hours, 3 week program is 120 hours, one week is 40 hours.
It is the student responsibility to find lodging. Accommodations can be found in the neighborhood or within 20 minutes drive. There are 2 convenience stores within 5 minutes drive.

Under some circumstances, R.V. could be parked on the ranch.

Under some circumstances, horses could be board on the ranch.

Lunch upon request.

Access to an extended book and video/DVD library and access to copy machine.

We recommend bringing note pad and camera


Our complete program is to provide instruction for a beginner that is based on the completion of 2 saddles. Giving all the training on the first one and being coached on the second one offers the best chance to memorize and manage the new skills involved once the person is to be on his-her own.

Our intensive program captures all aspects of a complete program, but is oriented for people already having experience in leather work, and with one saddle to build. We do not recommend this course for beginners unless they come with a strong desire to learn and the self confidence they can be successful in meeting the challenge of starting from scratch.

Also, we offer some schooling on small projects (chaps, chinks, breast-collar, bridle, purse, brief case, album cover…)

Prospective enrollees are encouraged to visit the physical facilities of the school and to discuss personal educational and occupational plans with us prior to enrolling or signing enrollment agreement.

Here are the options available :

  • OPTION I * the complete program
    two saddles to build and keep
    all material included
    10 weeks, $ 14 000
  • OPTION II * the intensive program
    one saddle to build and keep
    all material included
    3 weeks, $ 6 500
  • OPTION III * custom program
    bring your own project
    material not included
    1 week, $ 1 200
  • OPTION IV * custom program
    bring your own project or special task
    material not included
    $ 250 per day
  • OPTION V * carving only
    bring on your project
    leather scrap included, bring your own tools
    $ 250 per day

Custom program available for the craftsman with some experience.

Dates will be available on a yearly basis, with publications and advertisement work synchronized.
All payment is in US dollars in the form of a Money Order or Cashier Check. A 10 % down payment is required upon registration, the full balance is due prior to or on the first day of class.

Students are responsible for their lodging. Rentals and shopping are available in the neighborhood; all services can be found within 20 minutes drive.

If you are interested and need more information about the school, please contact us to receive a complete presentation binder.