Western saddle making
Master saddlemaker Gaylerd Thissell has been building saddles since 1946. Gaylerd began his career working for and learning from Si Elliot of Elliot Saddlery in Redding, California, and Louie Ringlero of Porter Saddle Company in Phoenix, Arizona. As the proprietor of Thissell Saddle Shop for over 50 years, Gaylerd has supplied the working cowboy community in California, Nevada, and Oregon with leather saddles and other essential leather gear.
Gaylerd participated in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2010 with his grandson and apprentice Lance Zazueta. Approaching his eighties, Gaylerd’s saddles are highly regarded, and he worked with Lance in the basics of building a saddle from start to finish. The apprenticeship involved Lance’s practice in using saddle-making tools, cutting leather, and customizing saddles with designs and stamps. The apprenticeship also included instruction on finishing the saddle with edging and oiling.
Master saddlemaker Gaylerd Thissell (right) and his grandson and 2010 apprentice Lance Zazueta in front of Thissell Saddle Shop in Cottonwood. Photo courtesy of Thissell Saddle Shop