The scent of fine leather drew visitors in to visit with saddle makers Jake and Laura McCracken, of Blue Mound, Saturday at the MEC Building.
The McCrackens along with their daughter Reata, 6, brought their leather wares to the Missouri State Fair this year and were eager to visit with fairgoers.
Jake McCraken said they began the path to saddle making due to a leather craftsman who lives in Chillicothe.
“I shoe horses for a living, I’m a farrier,” Jake said. “And, in the wintertime I got to hanging out with a saddle maker, Leroy Shockey. Then we kind of went out on our own.”
The McCrackens have been making saddles since 2008 and now have a small shop behind their home where they create detailed, custom saddles and tack.
“This is our full time gig,” Jake said. “We raise quarter horses and cattle and I shoe horses.”
The couple makes all types of saddles: ranch, trail, training and saddles for cowboy mounted shooting competitions.
“There were several of our saddles out there at the mounted shooting (at the Fair) last night (Friday) being used,” he noted.
Word is spreading and the McCrackens are becoming known in Missouri for their saddles. They were also featured on the pages of Rural Missouri earlier this year.
“We’re pretty lucky, we’ve been pretty blessed to have this good of business,” Jake said. “It’s been taking off here lately.”
To create their saddles, the couple uses American-made products such as leather from Hermann Oak Leather Co.
“It’s tanned over in St. Louis, Missouri,” Jake said. “My saddle trees (the frame) come from Tennessee. For our saddles, we try to use as many U.S. goods as we can.”
The couple plans to keep their business small with no plans for expanding into a large factory atmosphere.
“When you come to order a saddle, it’s us making it,” he said. “I want to keep it that way.”
Making a custom saddle takes close to six months from the time it’s ordered until the time it’s completed.
“That’s one of my goals is to get that done faster,” Jake said. “We get about 40 to 50 hours on a saddle, and it all depends on how much they order.”
“You get to pick out your tree, the size of your tree, the different colors of leather, or custom brands,” Laura said.
Laura added they stay busy. While Jake works on the saddle she takes care of the strap-goods and some of the finish work.
“We kind of have our own process, he does the main parts of the saddle and I do the reins … and the breast collars.”
“She’s pretty good at it,” Jake added. “She’s pretty modest about it most of the time, but she could almost make one if she wanted to. It wouldn’t work if both of us wasn’t working at it. It takes both of us.”
For more information about McCracken Saddles & Tack visit McCrackenSaddles.com.