About Jason

Nothing speaks tradition and character like a handcrafted western saddle.  From his saddle shop in Arlington, South Dakota, Jason McKenzie designs and builds custom saddles to fit the imagination of today’s cowboy.

Originally rooted in the grasslands of Alberta, McKenzie has been building saddles full time for the last 14 years.  With over 300 custom saddles under his belt, he has developed an exquisite variation of 18 different saddle styles for competitive horseman to the ranching cowboy.

It was in Roy McCaughey’s workshop, where McKenzie apprenticed and fell in love with the art of saddle making.  “After 56 years of building saddles there weren’t too many problems he couldn’t fix.  I learned early on just building saddles and working through the issues that camp up.  Some days I can still hear Roy instructing me,” says McKenzie.

Inspiration for his ranch saddles came from old Riley and McCormick and Visalia D.E. Walker stock saddle catalogues.  “Roy had tattered edged original copies of saddle catalogues from the early 1900’s.”  McKenzie explains.  “We used to pick saddles we liked and then build a replica.  We’d make all our own patterns from closely studying the old pen and ink line drawings in the catalogues.  Some would have half seats, exposed stirrup leathers and 5- ½” high shovel cantles.  I really enjoyed that.”

McKenzie notes every saddle maker has his own style.  “I like to look at other talented saddle makers’ tooling.  Saddle makers like Chuck Stormes, Deryk Pitts, Cary Schwarz, Vic Bennett, Ken Cameron, Dale Harwood and others.  Some of these experienced saddle makers have shown me, either in person or through their work, things that would have taken me years to figure out on my own.  I’m thankful for what they have shared.”

Raised in Beaumont, Alberta, McKenzie grew up in a family with nine sisters and two brothers.  “We spent a lot of time at a Bible Camp near Big Valley, Alberta  – 400 hundred acres on the south side of the Red Deer River. (They had horses we rode and worked with there) When I got older, one of my high school teachers, Bill Wesson,  took me and some of my classmates out to the mountains.  After that I had a desire to become a guide and outfitter. That had me looking for good saddles and talking with Roy McCaughey who eventually got me started in the saddle making trade."

~ Deanna Buschert
Western Horse Review Magazine,  20thAnniversary 
March 2013  (with some modifications May 22/2015)

Jason, his wife Bethany, and their two sons Carson and Cody now live in rural South Dakota. 

 


      When you walk into the shop and see the bare saddle trees, a few sides of leather, hundreds of hand tools, and a solid old stitcher, you begin to think about the amount of work involved in creating such a fine finished product.

      Jason pays close attention to every little detail as he builds and in the end it really shows. 
Most know there is a world of difference between the hand crafted custom saddle and the saddle that rolls off an assembly line. When you get yours you will experience that difference first hand. 

      Jason's saddles are now in high demand and are being used by serious competitors and horsemen throughout Canada, the USA, and as far away as Germany and England! Jason McKenzie has been building custom saddles full time for the past fourteen years and he enjoys what he does, it really shows. Take a close look at the saddles displayed on this website and read the testimonial page to hear what his clients have to say about the saddles Jason built for them.
 


17" Custom Cliff Wade saddle built in Arlington, SD, October 2013
Rich chestnut colored leather, California Rose and leaf tooling mixed with straight basket weave.
Traditional seat, with inlay and improved Cheyenne roll. 


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