The Brady Standard-Herald is beginning a series of feature stories that will focus on individuals in and around McCulloch County that possess unique and individual talents. Hobbies, passions, pastimes, jobs or a general love for creating something that is unique are what make so many people in McCulloch County unlike any other people in the state, or even the country. These features will be published every other week beginning with today’s issue. The feature will be headlined in a new section entitled “Artisans Alley.” Our list of individuals is by no means complete and any suggestions for story coverage are welcomed and encouraged. If you know of someone who has a special gift or talent for creating things, or a hobby that is unique, drop us a line. By James Stewart Voca resident Terry Peavy has always had a knack for creating things with his hands. His love for craftsmanship has led him to his newest venture as a custom saddle maker. Having lived on a ranch for most of his life, riding horses has been both a hobby and a necessity. During his early years in McCulloch County, he and his family were in the pig farming business, a business that provided well for them until the market dwindled in the early 1990s. Following his instinct, Peavy left the pig raising business and began what is becoming a common trend among farmers and ranchers’looking for other ways to supplement their income. A gifted craftsman who has a love for turning raw materials into works of art, after retiring from the pig business Peavy began building houses in and around McCulloch County. Word of mouth traveled fast and soon others were asking him to construct or remodel houses as well. Still looking for something to fill the voids that occurred in the time between projects, he began making furniture and miscellaneous items out of mesquite wood. This spawned Traditional Wood Specialities, his company that has currently taken a back seat to TRP Saddles. An idea that came to be not much more than a year ago, TRP Saddles has come to life in a small log cabin Peavy originally built to sell. The cabin sits just off Hwy. 71, a few miles southeast of Brady near Voca. It is a small cabin where new pieces of rawhide, tanned leather and manual labor merge together to create individualized, made-to-order western saddles. “I began studying saddle making about a year ago and have spent a lot of time learning from three different master craftsman,” said Peavy. “What got me into this was my love for horses and a desire to find something that I could do until I retire. Believe it or not, it is getting kind of hard to lift beams by myself while building and renovating a house. Saddle making is something I can do that lets me get back to the art of individual craftsmanship. “Since I made the decision to learn the art of saddle making, I have spent a lot of time picking out the materials and methods I think are best to deliver a quality, custom saddle. What that entails is not only fitting the saddle to the rider, but to the horse as well,” Peavy explained In addition to studying works and books written by the best saddle makers in the nation, he also has spent considerable time visiting and learning from Mason saddle maker Steve Schoolery. “Steve has been very gracious and helpful in the times I have stopped and visited him at his shop,” said Peavy. Making each saddle one at a time, Peavy begins each project the same’by talking to the rider and determining what his or her needs are and what kind of horse or horses they usually ride. He begins with general questions such as what the rider does while in the saddle, whether it be roping or just casual riding. From there, the questions grow increasingly specific as he works down to the intricate details and decorations a customer wants on their saddle. “Quality and longevity are number one with me and the saddles I make,” Peavy said. “The quality of the saddle begins at the saddle tree and that is the foundation on which I build each saddle. I only use the highest quality Herman Oak leather, made in the USA for all of the work on each saddle.” The art of saddle making is a basic science that evolves into individual styles of each saddle maker. The steps are basically the same, but the quality of materials and attention to detail is what distinguishes one from the other. “Before I even began studying this trade,” said Peavy “I studied the economies of scale for the industry. What I found is that the cost of the materials is basically the same for everyone, including commercial saddle manufacturers. That tells me that the costs associated with every saddle comes down to the effort taken to put the saddle together and the attention to detail.” Building a saddle from the design in a person’s head or from any number of patterns Peavy has on file is an investment in two weeks of hard work. Not one to rush the completion of a job, he carefully follows the steps that turn thick, stiff leather into a beautiful work of art. Although making saddles is his main focus, general leather repairs on tack and leather items are all part of the business he is trying to build. Not having plans of going into making boots or footwear, Peavy, plans to focus on repairing tack and saddles and hopefully building a good reputation for quality work using quality materials. An investment in a saddle is one thing that horse riders know does not come easily. Choosing to have a saddle made from hand by a custom saddle maker could be the most important decision of the entire process. Following the old saying “you get what you pay for” seems to prove itself true time and time again. When it comes to hours in the saddle roping in competitions or just a weekend ride around the ranch, the right decision will make those times that much more enjoyable. One look at a saddle made by Terry Peavy and you will know that what you pay for is personal pride poured into a product that is designed to last for generations to come. For more information about TRP Saddles, contact Terry by email at email@example.com or call him at 915-239-5476.