Friday, December 30, 2016

Leather Tack & Winter Weather

The Problem

Winter weather is no friend to leather, especially polluted rainwater. Microscopically, leather is made up of collagen fibers. During tanning, hides are soaked in chemicals to prevent its fibers and their bonds from decomposing. Natural fats and oils are tumbled with the hides to keep the protein bonds from drying out and to make the leather supple.

Protein bonds must be lubricated and kept supple, this is the key to long lasting leather. If the bonds dry out completely, they shrink, become brittle and break. Once broken, they are permanently weakened. Soaking leather in oil may make it supple again, but damaged fibers can’t be repaired or strength restored.

When your equipment gets drenched, the water forms temporary bonds with the lubricating oils. These vital oils float to the surface as the water evaporates.  That’s why the leather feels stiffer.

The Solution

Take action to get therapeutic oil back into that wet leather before its fibers completely dry. Remove dirt, sweat and mud from the wet leather with a damp rag. If the leather is really dirty or old conditioner has come to the surface, use a non-greasy, neutral pH leather cleaner to get the surface clean.

Wet leather needs to absorb conditioner deep within its fibers to replace oils flushed out by water. While the leather is still damp, apply a light coat of a penetrating, neutral pH leather conditioner. Capillary action will pull the conditioner down between the fibers. Thick or waxy conditioners tend to stay on or near the leather's surface, so look for conditioners with a neutral pH and avoid cleaners or conditioners with a harsh, alkaline pH. An alkaline pH, such as that of soaps, can damage and eventually weaken leather fibers.

An Ounce of Prevention

Water can move dyes, leaving spots and splotches on leather once dry. Often, stripping and re-dying is the only recourse to restore even color or the depth of color.

Preventing the problem with a waterproofing product is much easier. Grease based dressings form a physical barrier that keeps mud and water away from leather's pores. However, they are sticky, attract dirt, and cannot be used on nappy leathers like suede.

Silicone sprays are non-greasy and can be used on both suede and smooth leather. However, they can make leather surfaces slippery and can affect the color of porous leathers, and can dry leather if overused.

Acrylic copolymer is the newest option for waterproofing. It forms a microscopic net too fine for water molecules to penetrate but porous enough to allow water vapor to pass through. It creates a unique, flexible coating that protects leather fibers from rain, maintains breathability, isn’t slippery, and acts to fix dyes in porous suede.

If you're caught out in the rain, don’t panic, look at it as an opportunity to stop putting off that leather conditioning and waterproofing you've meant to do but just haven't gotten around to yet and embrace the opportunity to care for your tack!
You can find quality leather tack at

Friday, November 25, 2016

HALTERS – Nylon or Leather?

Horse owners are required to make many choices as they care for their treasured equine friends.  One of the most commonly purchased horse care items is also one of the most used and essential items we own, the halter.  Choices available are nylon flat halters, nylon rope halters, and leather halters.  Halters are typically paired with a horse to match the training development stage of the horse. Another consideration in determining which type of halter is best, is choosing one that suits the experience of the handler and of the horse. Of utmost importance is the safety of both handler and horse.

Nylon rope halters are usually an economical choice, very strong and offer a degree of greater control for horses with behavioral issues that may need to be worked out. A flat web nylon halter is a classic choice.  However, the durability of a nylon halter also happens to be one of their main disadvantages. A horse that is tied with a nylon halter can injure itself if the halter gets tangled or caught on an obstacle, which makes for a potentially dangerous situation. So, while nylon halters may be used for moving a horse from barn to pasture and back, the possible danger of injury prohibits leaving a nylon halter on for an extended period, especially overnight when a horse is unsupervised. 

Leather halters can come at a higher price, but are categorically much safer than nylon halters. Natural leather halters can be considered breakaway halters and are designed to break if a horse gets their halter tangled or caught on any obstacle.  Leather halters are an excellent choice while trailering, again because of the breakaway ability.

Unlike leather that breaks, nylon tears. This often means that it will take multiple, very forceful events for a horse to free themselves of their nylon halter once tangled or caught on an obstacle.  It's not by accident that horse tack is made of leather.  

It is not uncommon to hear stories of horses who have been severely injured trying to break loose from a caught halter.  Stories abound of horses found with any variety of items trailing behind them from which they have torn loose. Many a horse has been inured running through a fence, getting caught in a gate opening, etc., being afraid of something “chasing” behind them. 

While we can’t always have every item of tack that we may desire, when it comes to the health and safety of our equine friends, the choice is no longer a desire but a need.  Having both types of halters in our barns is a must.  Check out the selection of fine leather and nylon halters at Buckaroo Leather.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman with the safest, most durable, Quality American made leather horse tack.......
Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand!

Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

From all of us at Buckaroo Leather, we wish you a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman with the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack.......
Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand!

Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

We would love to see you!!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Four Key Points to Look for When Purchasing Leather Horse Tack

The Four Key Points to Look for When Purchasing Leather Horse Tack

1. Start with the feel of the leather: Is the leather soft and supple? You want to avoid purchasing tack that feels dry because the quality will be subpar. If you bend the leather and you see it starting to crack it is useless and may become very dangerous when riding. It should be bendable, soft and not stiff. Even if it has not been oiled, tack should still stay supple. However, when buying new tack if the leather feels overly soft then this is not good either. This sort of tack has had too much oil applied and is often a technique to disguise bad quality leather.

2. Next Smell: Yes, it important to smell the leather. Quality leather has a fresh warm smell, whereas inferior leather can have a chemical or ammonia like smell. Off odor is the first hint that the leather has been tanned too quickly and inexpensively. Top quality leather has a beautiful natural smell to it, no matter how old or how new it is. The more you handle leather the more you will be able to tell what smells like good leather. If you don't think it smells quite right then this is the first sign to identifying bad quality leather.

3. Look at the Color: Even though, some quality leather may be dyed it will still show the pliability and fresh smell noted above. Inferior leather seems to be “dull”. Dark color dyes can hide lower quality and poorly matched leathers. Avoid leather tack that looks blotchy or faded.

4. Check the details: Why would you put quality craftsmanship into poor quality leather? Well, you wouldn't. It wouldn't make logical sense. Look at the stitching of the leather; has it been finished off neatly and is it even? Stitching that is neat and even, then finished off and tucked in is a hallmark of good workmanship and quality tack. Also, look for durable hardware with strong steel tongue buckles and rounded edges that won’t cut into the leather.

If you are looking for quality equipment visit Buckaroo Leather Products for a wide variety of tack and equipment as well as other leather products needed for horse riding. Purchase headstalls, reins, leather halters, bits, hardware, hobbles, rawhide gear and leather care products at Buckaroo Leather.  The materials which go into the making of Buckaroo Leather Tack and the craftsmanship employed in it’s making are elements of the highest importance. You could have no higher guarantee of quality and workmanship than the name Buckaroo Leather upon your tack. It represents an organization proud of its establishment in 1979, and ever since catering to horseman and women with two generations of experience and knowledge applied in the making of riding equipment to the most exacting standards. Buckaroo Leather is The Brand to Demand!  Visit us at or give us a call (530) 545-0139

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Grilled Lemon Chicken Kabobs with Mushrooms & Bell Peppers

This recipe comes from a blog we follow, A Cowboy's Wife.  Doesn't this recipe look absolutely delicious?

Grilled Lemon Chicken Kabobs with Mushrooms & Bell Peppers 
Author: Lori

3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets, cut into 2" x 1" cubes
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian leaf parsley
½ teaspoon ground black pepper 2 teaspoons salt, divided 6 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers (or 1 green, 1 red), cut into 1½" x 1½" cubes
2 packages of mushrooms
Garlic powder (for mushrooms)
Butter (for mushrooms) olive oil for drizzling on chicken

In a small bowl, mix lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and olive oil. Melt a little butter (or use olive oil) and mix with some garlic. Garlic powder is fine to use. Let your mushrooms marinade in that and soak it all up. Place chicken cubes and lemon zest mixture in a resealable plastic bag. Coat chicken well with marinade. Seal bag and refrigerate 2 hours. Preheat oven or grill to 350°F. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Drain. Can also use metal skewers. Skewer your chicken, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Place chicken skewers on the grill and cook until chicken is done.

For all the details read the original blog post by clicking right here. Be sure to follow their blog too!

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bridger Creek Saddle - For Sale!

Would you look at this beautiful saddle? Here we have a 15 1/2" custom oak acorn border Bridger Creek saddle from Bozeman, Montana. This saddle is in excellent condition. Comes fully set up, complete with matching saddle bags, breast collar, headstall and a custom horse hair cinch. Call Buckaroo John for more details 530-545-0139. These saddles sell new for over $5000, but this one can be yours today for $2150!

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Newton Porter Vintage Saddle

In the late 1850s Newton Porter was born in Independence, MO and by the end of the Civil War Newton Porter was left an orphan. He moved to St. Louis, MO where he was raised by an Aunt and in his teens he started learning saddle making by serving an apprenticeship with a St. Louis, MO saddle maker. By 1875, Newton Porter opened his first saddle shop in Taylor, Texas, and the shop was an immediate success, but by 1881, a fire wiped out the shop and Newton Porter closed his business and moved to Abilene, TX where he reopened another shop and continued working in Texas over the next 8 to 10 years.

It was in 1895 when Newton Porter moved to Phoenix, AZ where he established the N. Porter Saddle & Harness Company, which became one of the finest Saddleries over the next 70 years. After Porter died in approximately 1906, his oldest son, Earl, took over the operation of the business, and he continued to institute the same business practices of his father until his death in 1925 when the business was taken over by Newton Porters youngest son, Fred Porter.

The N. Porter Saddle & Harness Company remained family owned and operated until the closing of the business in the mid 1960s. N.Porter Saddles & Harness Company employed two dozen or more master craftsmen, who tooled and sewed the saddles. Their saddles were world famous for being among the finest made. They also mentored apprentices who often opened their own shops. The design of a swastika or (nohokos) was a Navajo design that was adopted and used by the N. Porter Saddlery & Harness Company, but they eventually went to the Famous Steer Head Logo.

This is a beautiful black leather Newton Porter vintage saddle. It has a 15-15 1/2" seat. This saddle is all original with sterling silver. It is in excellent condition. Asking price is $5900.

For more information give Buckaroo John a call at 530-545-0139

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Own a Piece of Bohlin History

This is a unique and wonderful opportunity to own a piece of history!

This saddle is a genuine black leather Edward H. Bohlin saddle complete with original sterling silver and cinch. (Only the saddle strings have been replaced.) This saddle is in good condition. Asking price of $4900 OBO.

Bohlin History:

Ed Bohlin was known for his beautifully crafted parade saddles. A perfectionist, for good and bad, he never accepted anything less than the best craftsmanship. The leather on his saddles still squeak after 60 years. The silver requires only a cloth to clean because he used the highest grade of sterling. He and his artisans made many of the pieces by hand, especially the gold figures on his saddles. His carving was stunning and recognizable.

Many of High Noon's customers remember going into Bohlin's shop as children while their fathers purchased saddles, buckles, belts, bolos and money clips. Some time the kids got a special gift, too, from their dads. A few child's saddles (The Jackie Cooper model) were made to match their fathers' for parades. The Tim McCoy model and others were made for the stars of the era. Fiesta was truly a work of art, both in the silver and the pictorial carving. The Murietta was one of his brilliant models, mounted with Indian and Tepee design with distant hills all done in three shades of gold. The Dicksons were used many times for riders who wanted to twinkle with silver in parades.

 Bohlin saddles have always been valued higher than any other maker and have kept their value throughout the years. Both riders and collectors of Western Americana still clamor for Bohlin, whether they plan to ride using them or only to display them proudly in their offices or living rooms as art.
For more information give Buckaroo John a call at 530-545-0139.

Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

National Farriers Week

Flickr/Richard Walker/CC

This article is a modified version of a story that was originally published here on December 20, 2012.

Without our farriers, we riders and trainers would be up Excrement Creek without a water-displacing implement. Our horses would be lame, sore and elf-footed. From the most mundane routine care to extreme emergencies, our farriers are always there at our beck and call to take the best care of our dearest friends. While it’s common courtesy to have your horse caught, clean and ready for a farrier appointment, it’s also nice to do a little extra to show our farriers how much we appreciate all of their hard work and time spent on our horses’ hooves.

1. Gift cards are simple, basic, always needed, and do not require a trip to the mall. I suggest Starbucks, Panera, Cold Stone Creamery, Walmart, any gas station (BP, Shell, etc.), or a special favorite establishment that your farrier just loves to treat themselves to.

 2. Do not be afraid to employ the help of your practitioner’s spouses at a time like this. Ask their husbands/wives/children/apprentices what they really NEED. This can vary wildly and may take some creativity on your part. As an example, this year I went to the local farrier supply store and asked the boss man exactly what my farrier needed and he directed me to an elk horn hoof knife. My farrier swore up and down it was his favorite gift all year. Something that your practitioner can actually USE on a day to day basis is often the best choice when choosing a gift.

 3. Custom-made leather work cannot be beat for a gift that isn’t too expensive but employs a personal touch and really makes a statement about how much your appreciate your practitioner’s work.  Contact Buckaroo Leather Products and let us help you find the perfect gift for your farrier.

 4. I have found that my farrier’s children, especially if they are under the age of 10 or so, are their entire world. Sentimental gifts “for” your practitioner’s children will sometimes bring them even more joy than gifts for themselves. This can be any number of things from a longed-for stuffed pony from Build A Bear, to a miniature version of something Mommy or Daddy uses, to breeches for the budding equestrian. Again, creativity is a plus!

 5. With all of the bumps, kicks, bites, and bruises that most farriers endure on a daily basis, consider a gift certificate to a local spa for a day of pampering. Even for the male farrier, a massage can go a long way to alleviating those sore shoulders/backs/legs. Places like Massage Envy offer introductory massages for $39!

 6. All of us that are professional horsemen and horsewomen have a hard time getting any time to ourselves. Consider a gift certificate to a hotel chain or to one of those little log cabin companies in your local recreation area. These usually range in price from $50-$120 per night and have at least a year’s worth of validity. While your horse will invariable choose that weekend that your farrier is gone to pull a shoe, I promise you they will appreciate the down time.

 7. If you own or operate a business or farm, anything emblazoned with the establishment’s name and logo are both great advertising and still contain that personal touch.

 8. Speaking of attire, all farriers spend entire MONTHS of their lives out in the elements. No horses ever seem to get sick or throw shoes when it’s sunny and 60 degrees outside. So in the spirit of keeping your favorite people warm and dry, consider a very nice piece of outerwear to complement their wardrobe. For the budget minded, a good pair of gloves or socks can really do away with that winter chill. Good boots, a nice rain jacket, or a fleece pullover all are needed and appreciated as well and can even include your logo as you see fit.

 9. We all know the quickest way to a man’s (or a woman’s!) heart is through his stomach. A box of chocolates, bottle of wine, gift basket from your local bakery, or even a loaf of homemade zucchini bread is sure to bring a smile to their face and chase the rumble from their bellies.

 10. If all else fails and you cannot come up with a suitable gift for one or more of your favorite equine caretakers, a handmade gift (which can often be FREE!) that can be as simple as a framed picture or a card drawn by your own hand or even a letter expressing your gratitude for all that your farrier does for you can really mean a lot to the giftee.

Again, it’s the thought that counts and as long as you let those that keep your horses sound and healthy know how much you appreciate them this and every National Farriers Week, that is all that matters!

Buckaroo Leather has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mounted Shooting a Family Affair at Silver Dollar Ranch

 Lawson Family

If you go to Leann Berry Lawson’s Facebook page you may see quotes like:

 “This young lady just won a CMSA (Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association) Major! Ladies Level 2 Division Winner! Congratulations Rylee Lawson!! 
We are SO happy and proud of you!!!!!!


 “Smokin fast! Well... Not as fast as Dylan P Lawson !!!! He beat his dad! Dylan took first place in the limited division! He won $400.00 and a new Pistol!”

Leann is very proud of her children!  She should be!  It is exciting to see these two youths have such passion and drive!! Congrats to Leann and Kenny for fostering their passion!!!!

 Rylee, Dylan and Madi

Leann and her Husband Kenny Lawson of Silver Dollar Ranch are not just proud parents but they are skilled horse trainers and mounted shooting competitors. The Silver Dollar Ranch offers horse training, riding lessons and training horses for Cowboy Mounted Shooting. Kenny is a third-generation horse trainer. Kenny’s father, Rob Tanner, who was a World Champion and Hall of Fame trainer, was Kenny’s biggest influence. From a very young age, Kenny worked for his dad learning how to train one of the most complex breeds of horses, the American Saddle-bred. Kenny has the ability to educate horses without taking their curiosity from them.

 Kenny Lawson

All of Kenny’s training programs are based on a philosophy of mutual respect between horse and rider. He has solutions for horses with aggressive ground manners, to trailer loading issues or, for the competitor that would like to perform at the next level. Kenny also trains horses for many different disciplines. There are weekends where he, his family and clients will compete in Western Dressage on a Saturday and Mounted Shooting on a Sunday, all on the same horses. Kenny believes that a well-educated horse should be able to compete in many sports and activates. 

Leann Berry

Buckaroo Leather is proud to be apart of the Silver Dollar Ranch family! We our honored to have Kenny and the whole family not only endorse but use Buckaroo Leather's Saddle and Horse Tack. 

Visit the newly created Kenny and Leann Lawson category on the Buckaroo Leather website here.


Be sure to visit the Silver Dollar Ranch website and connect with them on Facebook. The Lawson family is also involved in the Valley Center Vaqueros. They are a family oriented equestrian club with activities for all ages. Visit the Vaquero facebook page here.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Leather Horse Tack Spring Check List


Spring Time Check of your Leather Horse Tack

It is official! Punxsutawney Phil declares early spring is coming!!! So get out that leather tack it is time to do a “spring check”!

Before you start your spring horse rides, a serious inspection of your tack, cleaning, oiling and conditioning of your tack is necessary. This springtime check is essential to keep your tack in good working order for the safety of both rider and horse. Not to mention increasing the longevity of the leather

First Step-

Take everything apart and inspect all your tack, including your saddle for wear. Especially at all areas ( picture 1 below) were your tack folds around the bits, buckles and saddle riggings. This is where there will be the most wear and stress. You need to replace any parts cracked or stretched. Chancing it is not worth the safety risk. Take your time; your piece of mind is worth it.

Second Step -

Clean all your horse tack and saddle with lots of water and glycerin saddle soap. Don't be afraid to get your tack wet. You have to get all the dirt and sweat out.

Third Step -

Hang it all to dry. Before it is completely dry, oil with a good quality neetsfoot oil. The drying process will help suck the oil into the leather

This "spring check" is a great habit to get into, not only for adults, but for children too. Teaching your children the importance of good quality AMERICAN MADE leather tack and proper care will insure the safety of both your child and horse. It will also give you a sense of pride and confidence in your saddle and equipment.

Buckaroo Leather prides itself on the AMERICAN MADE quality leather we use from Hermann Oak Leather to manufacture all of our western leather horse tack.

As mentioned above, cleaning is important, but checking the durability of your horse tack is vital. Unlike imported tack that has no integrity, a quality leather horse tack will be more durable and much less likely to crack making it safer! One of the ways to stop the wear on your saddles billets, are Wear Leathers!

One of Buckaroo Leather's innovations are the Wear Leathers (see below) on all our offside billets. The wear leather stops your saddle rigging dee rings from wear into the billets, which can cause a stress point!!

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable 
Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
Visit Our Unique Store Today  
Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Monday, February 1, 2016

Old West Cowboy Valentines Poem

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Here is a traditional old west Cowboy poem for your sweetie! 
Remember Cowboys' needs were simple!!!!

A love Poem

My horse is brown,
my dog’s name is Blue.
I feel so lucky to
have someone like you.
Your hair is like cornsilk
blowing in the breeze.
It’s softer than Blue’s
without all the fleas.
Cut from good cloth
like my best longjohns,
You pluck chickens all day
and still sing sweet songs.
I think I’m in love,
and I’m tickled pink.
We go together like, a skunk goes with stink

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable 
Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
Visit Our Unique Store Today  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mecate, Bosal, Hackamore Vaquero Tack

 Vaquero Horse Tack, Mecate, Bosal and Hackamore

The Mecate is the rein portion of the horse tack, called the Hackamore. The Hackamore is a type of headgear for horse training. The unique part of the Hackamore is that it does not have a bit. It uses a braided noseband called a Bosal. The Bosal is a special type of noseband that works on pressure points on the horse's face, nose, and chin. The Mecate is a rope made from horse hair or soft feeling rope that serves as reins and lead rope.

The types of Hackamores include the Bosal and side pull. The Bosal Hackamore uses the Vaqueros tradition of the braided noseband and the Mecate rope.

 100% Alpaca Mecate

The Mecate is tied to the Bosal in a specialized manner that adjusts the fit of the Bosal around the muzzle of the horse and creates both a looped rein and a long free end that can be used for a number of purposes.  

For the mounted rider, the free end is coiled and attached to the saddle or tucked under your belt. When the rider dismounts, the lead rein is not used to tie the horse to a solid object but used as a lead rope and a form of lunge line when needed.

 AAA Bosalitos Vaquero Style

The traditional Mecate used by the California Vaqueros was made from the long hair of a horse's tail and was hand braided. Modern Mecates are made with horse hair and synthetic rope with a horse hair tassel at one end and a leather popper at the other end.

A properly tied Mecate knot (please view the how to video here) allows wraps of rope to be added to the knot in front of the rein loop in order to tighten the Bosal noseband on a horse or the rope can be unwrapped to loosen the Bosal.

 Black Beauty Concha Hackamore

 Cadillac Hackamore Set with Fiador and Mecate

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable 
Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
Visit Our Unique Store Today  
Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Horse Queen of Idaho....Kittie Wilkins

In 1870, Kittie Wilkins built and empire that encompassed a large area of Southern Idaho, northern Nevada and eastern Oregon. She became an outstanding rancher and expert dealer in horses and often was called "The Horse Queen of Idaho," or "The Queen of Diamonds," due to her diamond brand.

Kittie was born in 1857 in Jacksonville, Oregon. Her parents, John R. and Laura Wilkins, were an ambitious couple who visited many boomtowns of the west before settling in Challis, Idaho, where they began raising cattle and horses. During her early years Kittie lived in several western states. John and Laura, however, never neglected their daughter's schooling. While her father taught her the horse trading business, Kittie's mother made sure she attended the finest schools. She grew into a well educated woman who could ride the range, carry out a shrewd business deal, or sit at the piano to entertain guests.

Kittie always claimed she got her start as a small child when two of her father's friends each gave her a $20 gold piece to invest. When her father became involved in the stock company, he used the money to buy Kittie a filly, which started her in business. She soon acquired her own herd that numbered between 700 and 800 horses. Kittie was an expert horsewoman, it was said she could ride anything with four feet on the ground, or anything with one foot on the ground and three feet in the air.

By the time she was 28, the Wilkins Company had moved to the Bruneau Valley of Owyhee County, Idaho. Although the outfit consisted of Kittie's father and her three brothers, she was the undisputed head of the company. She claimed every unbranded mustang on their range, which ran from the Humbolt River in Nevada, to the Snake River in Idaho, and from Goose Creek County in Idaho to the Owyhee River in Oregon. Kittie had the hardest working outfit west of the Mississippi River. Her boys were riding almost constantly as the ranch broke and shipped 154 horses every two weeks. The Wilkins riders became known as the finest in the world.

Kittie rode the open range with her cowhands, roping and saddle-breaking. The newspapers described her as a striking, blue-eyed blonde who rode a palomino the color of her hair. Seated upon a saddle that was mounted in silver and gold, Kittie was one with her horse as he flew over the rough terrain, rounding strays into the holding-corrals.

When traveling to the Eastern stockyards, Kittie took two trunks, one for here work-clothes and the other for her fancy outfits, which were worn with flair. Although she raised more than one eyebrow, the talented lady personally watched over her own horses, disdaining the idea that women were limited to playing the piano and attending tea parties. The herd was more important to her than the whispered gossip of others.

Because she was totally feminine, Miss Wilkins never failed to create excitement as she entered the marketplace. While selling her horses, the lady pulled her golden hair up under a hat and dressed in skillfully tailored mannish attire, something that was unheard of in that era. Whatever her attire, however, Kittie knew her business. She found a way to move the abundant wild mustangs of the West to the horse-hungry markets of the East.

One time she brought 3,000 head with her to St. Louis, Missouri and auctioned them off herself turning a tidy profit. It was rumored that the beautiful woman could make a better deal than her male counterparts and in 1891, Kittie Wilkins was the only female in the United States whose sole occupation was horse dealing.

Once the horse trading was over, Kittie changed her male attire and met the press wearing the most stylish fashions. In 1895, during an interview, a reporter told his friends he was hardly prepared to meet the tall young woman "dressed in a svelte, tailor-made costume, her blonde curls surmounted by a dainty Parisian creation, who greeted him with perfect self-possession and invited him to be seated."
He said she was a strikingly handsome woman. In 1904, at the age of 46, Kittie visited San Francisco. During her stay, she was a guest of the city and awarded, "The Palm for Beauty," which meant she was the toast of the town.

Often a cowboy who rode over the large Wilkins spread looking for a job, was surprised to find that "Kit" Wilkins was a she not a he. At first many of the men weren't sure they wanted to work for a female. However, once they realized the beautiful lady could not only handle her horse, but would also ride beside them, they always hired on. All of her "boys" were paid $40 a month and board, and they were strong, rough riders. Kittie ruled with an iron hand. If a cowboy got out of line, he was immediately fired. In a magazine article, one her "hands" wrote: "If a man weren't a good rider when he went to work for Kit Wilkins, he was a good rider when he left of he wasn't riding at all-unless in a hearse."

Many of Kittie's riders hired on as apprentices, and, under her guidance, became excellent cowboys. A few of them went on to fame in the Wild West Shows and others performed in rodeos. High Strickland became a Champion of the World several times; Jess Coates rode before the King and Queen of England in a Command Performance, and Walter Scott became part of Buffalo Bill Cody's show, and then became known as Death Valley Scotty.

Kittie was king to her crew and earned their admiration as a skilled rider. She was not afraid of the unbroken horses and would enter the pens and manage the most unruly. She knew more about pedigrees than most women did about stylish clothes.

With all her wealth and beauty, however, Kittie never married. It had been rumored she loved only one man. He was her top foreman and superintendent and they were reportedly engaged to be married. Unfortunately, he was killed while trying to remove and intruder from the Wilkins spread and Kittie was true to his memory the rest of her life.

Kit raised her horses on "Wilkins Island", a high plateau between what was then called "Kittie's Hot Hole" and the mining area of Jarbridge, Nevada. The Hot Hole was a natural hot springs at the bottom of a gorge, and today is known as "Murphy's Hot Springs." The Island was the company's headquarters where Kittie's "hands" built a corral that held the horses until they were shipped on to the eastern markets.


 Kittie's Letter Head

As Kittie rode the range and worked beside her cowboys, they shared a special camaraderie. Often, after a hard weeks work, she and her hands would ride into town and visit the local tavern for a bit of rest and frivolity. On one of these occasions, the Wilkin's boys were so carried away with their fun-making that someone "accidentally" opened the corral gate and the entire herd of captured "dollars" escaped.

Mrs. Alice Hicks, of Mountain Home, Idaho, remembers both Kittie and the tavern, as her father, Elijah Fletcher, once worked for the Wilkins. In a letter, she described a day in which she and her brother rode into town with their father to buy beef. Kit was standing in the door of the tavern and she greeted Elijah in a friendly manner saying, "Hello Lige, come on in and join the boys." When her father left the children sitting in the wagon, Mrs. Hicks recalls being a bit upset because at that young age she considered a tavern a den of "sin."

Although respectable women of that period didn't enter a tavern, it must be remembered that Kittie Wilkins was not an ordinary woman. She was always a lady, but she lived by her own rules.
Kittie had a lively personality and was a polished publicist. Her news releases were consistent and timely. She never deviated from her original tale of how she got her start with the two $20 gold pieces. Kittie's beauty and her success stories made headlines from San Francisco to St. Louis. Reporters admired her and the public enjoyed reading about the charming woman who many called "The Golden Queen".

Her generosity extended beyond the welfare of the cowboys who rode beside her on the ranch. Kittie supported an orphanage in Salt Lake City, Utah, and she donated to a Catholic academy near San Francisco. When the boys were old enough to work, they were hired as hands for the Wilkins Company. Several of the girls were taken into Kittie's home to assist with the housework, and a few she sent on to further their education. Numerous letters of appreciation from those who Kittie helped are on file, along with her property deeds and old records.

As time passed and Kittie grew older, she may have tinted her hair a bit, but she never lost that inner spark that made her so special. When she died of a heart attack in 1935, at the age of 79, no one thought of Kittie as an old woman.

She is buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in Mountain Home. There is a modest stone bearing a simple inscription in which her name, birth and death dates are followed by the words, "Horse Queen of Idaho."

Although Miss Wilkins was one of the best known women of her generation, there has been very little written about her. Bits and pieces of Kittie's colorful life have come from old newspaper articles, a few paragraphs here and there, and through the courtesy of the Elmore Historical Society in Mountain Home, Idaho.

this is an excerpt from the book "Daughters of the West", by Anne Seagraves.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable 
Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
Visit Our Unique Store Today  
Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site