The winner of the Xtreme Bulls event in Pendleton this week will get a prize that no other bull rider in the series will get – a custom handcrafted Hamley saddle.
With this year being the first for the Xtreme Bulls tour to come to Pendleton, local organizers wanted to make a mark and the best way to do that was to feature the crafters that help make Pendleton famous.
“This was a new opportunity to showcase a custom saddle made by Hamley’s,” explained Pat Reay, member of the Pendleton Round-Up Board of Directors.
Reay emphasized that the Round-Up has had a longstanding relationship with Hamley & Co. so organizers were excited to approach management with a proposal. Working with Wildhorse Resort & Casino who manages Hamley & Co., a deal was quickly made.
Hamley Saddle Shop began carefully crafting saddles not long after opening their store in Pendleton in 1905. The store remains in its original location today.
Hamley saddles gained an outstanding reputation throughout the US, and eventually worldwide, for exceptional quality and attention to detail. Hamley & Co. became known throughout the west as the maker of “the finest saddles man could ride”.
Hamley crafters invented the best working saddle with the Hamley Wade, made in various styles utilizing a “slick fork” saddle tree. In 1919, Hamley produced the modified Association saddle as a solution to better anchor bronc riders to their horses. This same saddle is still used today in rodeo competitions.
The custom Hamley saddle made for the Xtreme Bulls event is a roper style on a Buster Welch tree. Experienced saddle maker Alan Dewey chose a floral pattern known as the “Sheridan” pattern which was made popular by legendary saddle maker Don King of Wyoming.
Dewey added one of his favorite touches – an ostrich leather seat that adds a bit of flair to what is an important tool to any hard working cowboy. In total, Dewey put over 100 hours into making the saddle.
Dewey has been crafting saddles for 48 years and began making saddles for Hamley & Co. in 2005. Although he attempted retirement several years ago, his excellent reputation for his craft won’t allow him to completely exit saddle making.
Besides making saddles for Hamley & Co., Dewey has a long list of loyal customers. He recently made an eleventh saddle for one customer and says a Texas fan of his work owns six.
“When you have people like that that have treated you right for several years, you can’t say no,” Dewey declared.
One of Dewey’s reasons for making the Hamley saddle for this event was because Pendleton Round-Up is unique in that it still awards handcrafted custom saddles to competitors, something simply not done at other rodeos.
“It’s kind of a pride thing,” said Dewey.
Hamley & Co. has been a supporter of the Pendleton Round-Up since 1910. Original owner J.J. Hamley was an enthusiastic supporter of the cowboy competition and helped launch what is now a world-famous event.
Hamley & Co. operations are managed by Wildhorse Resort & Casino, which is owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.