Conrad Koppenhafer

Western saddle making

Conrad Koppenhafer is a saddle maker with experience as a cowboy.  He learned the cowboy trade as a child from his father, great uncle and other cowboys in Colorado.  In 1975 he started making saddles at Texas State Technical Institute in Amarillo, and gained more experience at Ryons in Fort Worth, Texas, and J.M. Capriola, in Elko, Nevada.  Currently, he builds saddles and makes and repairs all the equipment used by the cowboy trade at Butte Valley Saddle Company in Dorris, California, where he enjoys demonstrating and teaching leather craft to 4-H members and others in the community.  In 1997, Conrad was recognized among the top thirty saddle makers in the United States by the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada.  He once built a saddle for President Ronald Reagan.

A well-designed and well-made saddle fits both the horse and the horseman.  No matter how pretty the saddle is, if it is not comfortable to both horse and rider, it is not a quality product.  Often the best saddle makers are cattlemen, riders themselves who know from experience what it is required of a good saddle.  Conrad spends about 40 hours on a plain saddle and 200 hours on a tooled (ornamented) saddle.

In 2001, Conrad was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, with apprentice Bryon Hadwick.  During the apprenticeship, Conrad led Bryon in the making of his first saddle.

Select Exhibits

Masten and Ramsey Stock Horse Show, Alturas, California, July 2006

Klamath Falls Bull and Horse Sale, Klamath Falls, Oregon, February 2006

Redbluff Bull and Guilding Sale, Redbluff, California, January 2006


ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, Master Artist, 2001

Grand Marshall, Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair Parade, 2000

Special Recognition Award for Community Service, Dorris Lions Club, 2000

Among the Top Thirty Saddle Makers in the United States, Western Folklife Center, 1997

Winner of the Traces of the West Art Show at “Pioneer Days” annual celebration in Ogden, Utah, Leather Category, 1998-2000

Teaching Experience

4-H Leather Craft Instructor

Professional Services

Teaching or mentorships
Creates commissioned art work
Educational presentations to schools or community organizations
Offers works for sale



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