Bruce Cheaney is a custom saddle maker who also makes bits and spurs. He specializes in making handmade saddles customized to the preferences of the individual customer.It only makes sense that Bruce chose saddlemaking as his occupation since the Cheaney family has had a saddlemaker in every generation since sometime before 1850.Bruce literally grew up in his father Jack Cheaney’s saddle shop.When Bruce was a young boy, he made hand tooled belts, chaps, and wallets.As a boy, he took orders for shotgun chaps, split ear headstallls, and also made leather show halters for kids in 4-H.Around 1970, Bruce started seriously apprenticing under his father’s expertise.He spent over a decade making saddles with his father, and in May of 1981 Bruce took off on his own and started Bruce Cheaney’s Custom Saddles. Through his experience making saddles, Bruce became interested in making bits and spurs. Bruce is essentially a self-taught bit and spur maker through the old fashioned method of trial and error.One person who was particularly instrumental in the learning process was H.D. Gaither.Mr. Gaither provided much insight on the making of one piece spurs, the necessary metals and equipment, as well as a dose of that bit and spur maker attitude.Hunter Gaither was a friend of Adolph Bayers, and they frequently visited at Bayers’ shop.Bruce has self produced instructional videos on how to make cutting saddles, roping saddles, buckaroo saddles, hand-forged spurs, welded spurs, shank bits, snaffle bits, hunting and folding knives, covering stirrups with rawhide and leather, breast collars, spur straps, Texas style silversmithing and engraving, and bluing and browning.He has also published a bit and spur pattern book. Cheaney saddles are ridden by great horsemen and women in Germany, France, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, and almost every state in the U.S.To this day, Bruce spends most of his time making handmade custom saddles.He likes to make cutters, ropers, reiners, and a few wades.He spends most of his time on saddles because the orders are strong.He used to juggle back and forth between saddles, bits, and spurs, but now he tries to focus on one thing at a time.He prefers to build bits slightly more than spurs.Bruce Cheaney is a “custom” maker in the truest sense of the word.Every detail that goes into a piece of work is based on customer preferences, although sometimes a customer will leave the tooling design up to Bruce’s imagination. For six consecutive generations, the trade and art of saddlemaking has been passed down and carried on in the Cheaney family. Bruce’s son Tom has learned to build saddles and works with Bruce.
Bruce Cheaney with hand carved leather plaque he made for the National Bit Spur & Saddle Collector's Association.