Saddlemaker Wendy Allen of Dublin, Texas (254-445-4766, wendyallensaddlery.com), refuses to let convention dictate her work and admits to breaking numerous fashion rules within the tradition-bound Western world.
“I have a hunger for the unique and eccentric,” she says. “I refuse to settle for the status quo.”
That independent spirit has always characterized Allen. At just 7 years old, she wanted to make changes to her saddle, but no one would honor her wishes, so she took her leather kit and got to work. She says, “I basically started redesigning trees myself.” Allen has a fascination with structure and anatomy and calls herself a “structural engineer” rather than a saddlemaker.
“I understand the human form and the equine form,” she says. “I can see immediately what needs to be fixed. It’s my desire to help improve and enhance the rider and the horse through their tack and saddles.”
With a revolutionary approach to tree design, a devotion to detail, and an aesthetic slant that flirts with the avant-garde, Allen is an outlier in the saddle-making world. She says, “I like to soup my saddles up like a little Ferrari and make my designs red hot!”
Her saddle designs, which have included dramatic tooling and unorthodox tribal patterns, have earned her four nominations to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Acclaimed horsemen like Greg Ward, Bill Freeman, and Scott Ferguson, ride in them.
“The Western spirit has guided my work and life,” she says. “When I was very young, my dad got transferred to Texas. All I wanted to be was a cowboy. I wanted to ride the ranges. I may be way out there, but I always show my true roots in my work. I may not dress the image, but I am all about the Western love and romance of cowboys and Indians.”