I have been fitting saddles to horses for over half a century. I fabricated my first Australian Stock Saddle in 1954 at the age of 14. Over 10,000 saddles directly fitted to horses and mules, and 86,000 custom saddle fitting consultations to date. No person alive has fitted more. I have figured it out. The comfort of this noble animal is my passion.
I work with all saddles, although I am famous for being the first person to successfully market a new saddle in America in 300 years -- the Australian stock saddle, that I introduced to the United States beginning in 1979. But the horse does not care what saddle it is wearing. He has only one concern -- does it hurt. He does not know if it is English, Western, Australian or Calathumpian.
It has been an incredible journey building The Australian Stock Saddle company with my brilliant beautiful wife Linda. She was shocked in the early '70's when I told her I was quitting my high profile life in Hollywood to start selling saddles. But she gave up her Academy Awards gown and joined me marketing saddles with the company we started together, The Australian Stock Saddle Company. It was an immediate and an amazing success. We created an extraordinary life. We were living the American dream, having so much fun, flushed with success. Linda traveled the world, because we could afford it, and I rode horses in every competition I could find and sold top quality Australian stock saddles faster than anybody in history. I had already traveled the world as a successful journalist, becoming Rupert Murdoch's first Hollywood Editor in America. I had my own TV show and syndicated a column in 150 publications in 40 countries. We proved that in America anything was possible if you worked hard and treated people as you wished to be treated yourself. Linda and I worked side-by-side, driving back and forth across the country doing shows, setting up booths in rain, hail, snow or blistering heat. She was tireless, cheerful, loving me and supporting me in ways that I did not think possible in any woman. She shared my love of the horse, but she often questioned why she was trudging through the mud loading saddles into a booth when, just yesterday, she was wearing 30 yards of chiffon, traveling in a limousine to the Academy Awards. "Because you love me," I would tell her, and she would roll her big blue eyes. But she let me live my dream.
Growing up in a dusty town on the rim of the Australian Outback, where my family had a 500-square-mile cattle property, I practically lived on a horse. I got to know and love them in that special way familiar to all people who know and love horses. They make us special. They inspire us and enrich us as human beings. We know they are worth the extraordinary cost, in this age of high tech blab, blab, blab. But then life dealt us a blow. It was nothing at first, and we would not be aware of its impact until many years later. Around 2007 Linda started forgetting things, small stuff at first, but it became more and more frequent, and gradually she could no longer do what she had always done -- run the business side ofThe Australian Stock Saddle while I did the promotion and selling. She was just 49 when I noticed these "senior moments" that would become "major forgets." Without realizing it -- I remained in major denial -- I was well into the most challenging cycle of my life. I told myself Linda would get better, that this would pass, that this was not the dreaded D-word -- dementia.
So I decided to downsize. This is the lady I love and we promised each other, on our first lunch date so long ago, that we would be together forever; that I would hold her hand if she died first, or she would hold mine, if I died first. I am honored and privileged to be at her side now. I sold the Australian Stock Saddle Company assets and now I am caring for Linda in her final days. And I am starting again with my same work done in a different way, still fitting saddles to horses, selling used saddles and building some very fine saddles myself. Linda would want me to do all that. She is not in the back room crunching numbers. She is in my heart singing her song. I am with my love every day. God is pulling on one arm, and I am pulling on the other. I just know he wants me to try for Linda -- at least as hard as she tries still to please me. Linda cannot speak words, but her smile speaks volumes. God will win this long battle, but I am pleased with every going down of the sun that He has given me another day.
'RIDE LIKE THE MAN WHO BROUGHT THE AUSSIE SADDLE TO AMERICA.'
So here is what I do at my ranch in Malibu:
# Measure the back of the horse, with a gauge I helped invent, and use these angles to RESHAPE any tree to fit a particular horse.
# Reshape trees to fit horses from measurements supplied by the owners.
# Fix broken trees and restore saddles from the tree on out. We are masters at making leather look like new -- even better!
# Replace fleece panels, re-stuff horsehair or wool panels, in accordance with back measurements supplied.
# Fix and/or custom fit any harness equipment or tack.
# Repair most items made from leather -- bags, purses, belts. ( No coats, boots or couches!! )
# Custom holsters to fit particular guns or knives, using exotic skins or regular cowhide.
# You photograph the equipment that needs to be fixed or modified,
or text (818) 309-8125 and we will give you a quote.
# Take in saddles on consignment. We clean them, make sure they are safe, get the best price we can, take 30 per cent commission -- and send you a check.
# If you are looking for a good used saddle, we have heaps!. We will fit one to YOUR horse at a price that will make your pocketbook smile!
Check out the bareback saddles we build in Malibu, and frequently have previously owned or traded models. Call for pricing. We can custom repair and rebuild any saddle from the tree up.