Artist: Merlin Rupp – Hines, OR
An Oregon native, Merlin Rupp has worked the ranges of Oregon and Nevada for most of his life. He twists horse hair for mecates and braids rawhide for reatas. Working men and women who drive cattle, manage ranches, and take part in rodeos use Rupp’s handcrafted gear. Rupp’s intricately braided horse hair and leather work reveal the influence of early vaquero techniques.
Artist: Helen Dougal Corbari – Jordan Valley, OR
Born and reared in Oregon’s Jordan Valley, Helen Dougal Corbari has made mecates for over 50 years. She started at age 8, assisting her mother, Frankie Dougal, and her grandmother, Clara Whitby, to make ropes of twisted horse mane hair. Making traditional mecates remains a labor-intensive process. A mother herself, Helen has passed her knowledge to her daughter, Gloria, who represents a 4th generation involved in this buckaroo tradition. Visit her website to learn more.
Artists: Bill and Teresa Black – Plush, OR
Horsemen throughout the Great Basin consider Bill and Teresa Black’s hackamores a “must have.” Consisting of a bosal (noseband) and a leather strap for a headstall, the hackamore remains central to buckaroo horse training. To handcraft his hackamores, Bill stretches and scrapes a cowhide, then braids the rawhide. To date, he has made over 1,500 hackamores, a buckaroo tradition that he and his wife, Teresa, a leatherworker, carry on. Visit their website to learn more.
Artist: Len Babb III – Paisley, OR
Working buckaroo Len Babb knows how a saddle should feel and work during long days on the ranch. He learned the saddle making trade from his father, Len Babb, Sr. Working together, father and son have made over 560 saddles in the past two decades. Len uses traditional hand tools to craft saddles, reins, and other ranching gear. Visit his website to learn more.
Artist: Steve McKay – Burns, OR
Steve McKay is passionate about the buckaroo lifestyle and all the gear making that goes with it. One of Len Babb’s former apprentices, McKay also taught himself how to braid rawhide and hitch horse hair. He is well known throughout the high desert for his intricate leather tooling. Orders for his ornately tooled saddles come from as far away as New York City! Visit his website to learn more.