Robert Dennis - Saddlemaking

Master: Robert Dennis, Red Owl
Apprentice: Pete Reinert, Howes
Art Form: Saddle making

Robert Dennis (man) stands at left of handmade leather saddle on metal fenceThe wide open ranching country of western South Dakota requires a lot of time on horseback for the men and women looking after cattle. A good saddle can make all the difference between a miserable ride for both human and horse, and a comfortable day doing good work in beautiful country.

Robert Dennis of Red Owl is the man to see for a custom saddle in the northwest part of the state. He has been building saddles for himself and others for over ten years, always learning something new and improving the fit and appearance with each one. Robert has taught several others the saddlemaking art, and in 2001-2002 had Pete Reinert of Howes as his student.

Pete is a working cowboy and had already been making leather items like chaps and spur strap leathers. He had a saddle that never fit quite right that he wanted to fix, but never quite knew how. Under Robert’s guidance, he made a complete saddle during the apprenticeship, which he says is all he could have hoped for. “It just amazed me when I got all done, and when I actually went to riding—I couldn’t ask for anything better, it fits me perfect!” he announces. “But if I wouldn’t have had someone showing me, I never would have finished it. I would have got frustrated, and I would have just said the heck with it.”

Pete’s time with Robert was well spent, and he’s made several more saddles since the apprenticeship, showing every sign of continuing to develop his skill and pass it on.

Robert also participated as an apprentice with G.K. Fraker to learn Sheridan style leather carving.