Dale Harwood Saddle, Private Treaty Offering

By Mike Thomas
May 22, 2010

This mint condition saddle was built in 1980 by Dale Harwood. It is being sold for estate purposes at fair market value only.

The Story of the Saddle

In late 1979/early 1980, my name came up on Dale Harwood's waiting list. I got his phone call at the Madison River Cattle Company Ranch on the same day that Dale completed Ray Hunt’s incredible saddle. Ray and I went to Idaho Falls, Idaho, taking another Harwood saddle that I had been riding. Upon our arrival at Trail’s End Saddlery, we put my old saddle up on the stand. It had not been made for me, but up until that time it was the best saddle of several dozen worn-out saddles, all custom made, that I ever rode.

Ray, Dale and I designed my new saddle together. This is the saddle you see in the photos accompanying this article. Dale made every square inch of it, including the silver, hardware and more. It has not had any repairs whatsoever, has been extremely well cared for and is in mint condition.

The First Ride

Right after I got this wonderful new saddle, I loaded it up in my rig and went about 20 miles south and 20 miles west of Gillette, Wyoming, arriving at a ranch where we moved 5,000 yearlings 26 miles into the back country for the summer. That was the first ride, of several hundreds or more, in this incredible saddle. We made a 52-mile circle in one day! When we got back, the ride in this saddle was like no other in my life of nearly 40 years (70 now) at that time. I could easily have gone another 30 miles and was not tired one damn bit! That was in itself a brand new experience. The saddle was and is totally perfect!

Another Ride

A few months later, Buck Brannaman and I went to Costa Rica and rode in a 5-mile parade as well as several nights of a Costa Rican rodeo. Buck was a "Teen Idol Trick Roper" on black and white TV there, while I had to give a speech at the Pan American Livestock Exposition on "Using CME Cattle Futures as a Legitimate Hedge" (and not speculation). That was the day that Ronald Reagan was shot and we were told that he died. That will be another story that some day I must tell. I can’t believe, yet, that ride in this saddle during those historic moments in time. Buck trick roped every night at the Herradura Rodeo which is another word for chaos! He trick roped off an Andalusian horse I called "Jughead". Another story!

Thousands of Rides and Memories… the Last 30 Years

This saddle is not just another saddle! This saddle, at least in my mind, represents the last 30 years of my friendship and love for the horse and what Ray Hunt, Tom and Bill Dorrance stood for during their entire 264 years of combined horsemanship. This saddle represents the incredible skills of the Master Saddle Maker of all time, Dale Harwood.

This saddle has seen many of today’s great young horsemen/horsewomen's dreams come true. This saddle is an icon to the wonderful teachings of my heroes who are now gone! This saddle has graced the backs of many fine horses. This saddle represents the 70 years of my life, many of those years (30) on it. This saddle testifies, by itself, to a jury of horsemen and horsewomen, not how great I am, because I am not; but does give history and credence to the greatest horsemen and saddlemakers of the last century and more.

Intrinsic Value

So what is the saddle worth? Its intrinsic value is entwined with the lives of these great horsemen and one incredible Master Saddlemaker during the early years of his great work and their combined dedication to perfection with a horse. I am trying to find the most appropriate way to present this to the market. In no way do I want to use methods that do not honor the integrity of the saddle and its maker, Dale Harwood. I do not need to sell this saddle in a rushed or disrespectful manner.

Terms of Sale

Potential buyers can email me at mikethomasaz@gmail.com with any questions concerning the saddle. Bids should also be submitted via this email address, including the bid amount and complete contact information (buyer's name, address, phone number(s) and email address). Bids will be confirmed with a return email. At no time will the bidder get a return email saying "not good enough; you must go higher". If you do not get a reply other than confirming the bid, then it probably was not high enough. I don’t want any bidder feeling like they are being pushed to offer more. If the bid is serious, I will call the buyer.

Offering One

The first time frame for offering will be sixty days (60) and bidding will proceed from the date of posting on my website, www.mikethomashorsemen.com. Thus the first official time frame of offer is May 22, 2010 to August 2, 2010. The minimum bid is $20,000 and that will not buy the saddle, but is a starting point. It is possible that Offering Two, below, will never be held. An acceptable offer could be made and that buyer will be notified with terms and conditions for payment.

Offering Two

The second offering, if necessary, will occur January 1, 2011 to July 1, 2011 and the minimum bid will be based on the highest bid of Offering One, which will be published on the website noted above. The seller (myself) reserves the right not to sell if the bids are not acceptable.


Should I find compelling reasons to offer terms to a selected bidder, for reasons that convince me that the bidder is being honest about the future of the saddle, then I will contact that person for further discussions.

I am only doing this at this time for estate purposes. I am in reasonably good health and have time to make sure that the sale of the saddle is managed properly without placing burdens on my heirs.

I reserve the right to take the saddle off the market at any time. Please understand that I am not looking for a buyer that just wants another good saddle or another collector’s saddle. This saddle is a cut above most others, with a long history and a good one. This saddle celebrates the life of the greatest horsemen ever, Ray Hunt, who helped design it, and the Master Saddlemaker, Dale Harwood!


Mike Thomas (Himself)
Contact: mikethomasaz@gmail.com

MRT Dale Harwood Saddle