Roughout Saddle Contest

A plain roughout saddle can tell just as much about the maker as a fancy tooled one.  We wanted to host a competition that would focus on the mechanics of leather working versus the decorative aspects of the trade.  A roughout saddle is a platform on which to compare makers without the distraction of stamping or tooling and a roughout saddle also takes less time to complete and is more affordable to make.  Our hope is that makers could potentially fill an order with the contest entry or easily sell the saddle after the show.

We listened to the participants of the first contest and what they liked about the contest, things that need work and their goals in entering a contest. Overwhelmingly the saddle makers wanted to see how their work stacked up against everyone else and to come away with some constructive criticism they could use to improve their saddlemaking.  The detailed scoresheet was developed to make the contest as fair as possible while serving as a guide for the maker to further their skills.  The exact scoresheet is available to download or print from this page, once it has been approved by the judges, and we cannot encourage contestants enough to throughly study that as well as the few simple rules we have for the contest.

The contest has two divisions, Open & Novice. The Novice class is open to saddle makers who have completed less than 5 saddles either on their own or in a class/school/apprenticeship environment.  The Open class is for everyone who has made more than 5 saddles. The same scoring criteria will be used in both categories, and each class will award prizes for three places.  Our vendors and trade associates have been generous in donating to the Contest and we could not continue without that support.  All prizes and payout schedules for each category will be posted on this site and we will update the list as we progress. 

A competition can bring craftspeople together to learn and discuss their trade with like-minded individuals.  We are encouraging all makers to attend the event and are working to make the prize packages worthy of a trip to Pendleton, Oregon.  Of course, attendees can shop the trade show for all the tools, leather and supplies they might desire.  Other saddle makers will be in attendance and the fellowship that can come out of exhibits like this can be priceless.  Learning more about your trade might be a side-effect of a short weekend in a famous saddle making town.

The judging of any contest can be the most controversial aspect.  While we realize we cannot please everyone, we have worked hard to create a straight forward set of guidelines for the makers.  Each saddle will be separately and independently scored by a panel of three judges and scored according to the contest rules and score sheet.  Our judges are well-respected saddle makers and we are 100% confident in their abilities to professionally and impartially judge this competition.  The judges for the 2018 contest: Pedro Pedrini, Randy Severe & Conley Walker

The top 15 saddles in the Open & the top 5 Novice contestants will receive his/her three scoresheets at the end of the competition giving immediate and excellent feedback for the contestants.  We cannot emphasize this benefit enough; makers will have something, in black and white, from 3 respected saddlemakers to take home and improve their skill set.  

With so many people attending this show in the Northwest region, we wanted to involve local leatherworkers in the saddle competition.  Each registered trade show participant (attendee, student, teacher, vendor etc) will be able to cast one vote towards People's Choice Award.  The votes will be tallied and the saddle receiving the most votes from the public will win the People's Choice Award.

Please check out the rest of the information regarding the show and contest and always feel free to call #307.737.2450 and ask any questions you may have.

2017 Roughout Saddle Contest  Rules and Guidelines

  • $150 Entry Fee.  Entries are open AUGUST 1 through OCTOBER 31st, 2017. After Oct 31, $200 entry fee.  All entry fees are non-refundable.
  • Payable to: Pendleton Leather Show 486 Wildcat Rd, Sheridan, WY 82801.  
  • Each saddlemaker may only enter one saddle, made within 2017 and in "New" condition.  Used saddles will be allowed at the judges' discretion.
  • Saddles must be made by a single individual. Saddles made in a training or school environment are not allowed.
  • Saddles can be for sale and contestants are responsible for all sales; Pendleton Leather Show will not take any Sales Commission.
  • Three judges will each independently and separately score each entry based on a universal score sheet.  Top 15 contestants in the Open and top 5 in the Novice will receive their score sheets at the end of the contest.
  • Saddles must be at the Pendleton Convention Center by 9 AM, November 2nd, 2017 and will remain on display until 4 PM November 4th, 2017.  Check-in for saddle entries will be Wednesday, Nov. 1st 1-4 PM and Thursday, Nov. 2nd 7-9 AM. PLEASE check these times often as they may change!
  • All contestants will provide a saddle stand for their entry.

Acceptable for entry:

  1. Any style saddle tree
  2. Any style rigging
  3. Saddle must be functional
  4. Horn wrap of leather only: chap, skirting, latigo, mulehide, elk etc.
  5. Makers mark, logo, brand, serial number normally used by the saddle maker

Acceptable for entry, but will not be scored:

  1. Metal conchos or hardware or decoration
  2. Brand or initial on horn, cantle or fender
  3. Bucking rolls
  4. Full or partial lining/stitching on saddle

Not accectable for entry, will be disqualified:

  1. Any stamping or tooling
  2. Smoothout cantle and/or horn binding 
  3. Inlays or overlays (not to be confused with a flush fitted seat and/or jockeys)
  4. Half Breeds
  5. Padded seats
  6. Swivel knife cuts or any additional decorative marks

Please study the scoresheet for a full understanding of what will be judged in the contest.

Open category: Prize Payout

First Place:         2015 total $4200

  • 25% total Open entry fees
  • 60% total value of prizes

Second Place:    2015 total $2100

  • 15% total Open entry fees
  • 30% total value of prizes

Third Place:       2015 total $700

  • 10% total Open entry fees
  • 10% total value of prizes


Novice category: Prize payout

First Place: 60% total Novice entry fees

Second Place: 30% total Novice entry fees

Third Place: 10% total Novice entry fees


Travel Pendleton People's Choice Award

$100 cash award

  Jeff Haslam   2017 First Place, Open Division

Jeff Haslam

2017 First Place, Open Division

  George Albert   2017 First Place, Novice Division

George Albert

2017 First Place, Novice Division


Conley Walker


2015 First Place & People's Choice winner

  Kevin Urbach   2017 Second Place, Open Division

Kevin Urbach

2017 Second Place, Open Division

  Aaron Gilkey   2017 Second Place, Novice Division

Aaron Gilkey

2017 Second Place, Novice Division

Mark Channer

2015 Second Place

  Clint Lundy   2017 Third Place, Open Division

Clint Lundy

2017 Third Place, Open Division

Kevin Urbach

2015 Third Place