Behind the Slide – Chris Weaver, Bob’s Custom Saddles

According to Bob’s Custom Saddles Vice President Chris Weaver, the business’ saddles have been ridden to win over two million dollars in the open reining division alone. It’s a standout accomplishment for a company that values rideability for both horse and rider on the same level as craftsmanship and quality.

Forty-three years ago, Bob Haley struck out on a mission to build saddles around the increasingly popular notion of close-contact saddles.

“There were two rules that Bob Haley followed: He wanted to be able to make a saddle that fit the horse properly, and he wanted to also make sure he fit the rider,” Weaver said. “He called it the winning position. It was all about proper sitting in the saddle. Those were his words; he wanted to put people in the winning position.”

No stranger to the winning position of all disciplines, Weaver spent his fair share of time in the performance pen growing up. He showed horses in every discipline under the sun: English, Western pleasure, horsemanship, showmanship, team roping—you name it, Weaver has probably ridden it at least once.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being in the equine industry my whole life,” Weaver said. “My family started showing horses when I was about 7 years old, and we’ve been through the whole gamut. My parents still train horses.”

At one point in his equine career, Weaver found himself team roping on a professional level. His intimate understanding of the performance horse industry lends itself to making a name for Bob’s Custom Saddles in various arenas.

“We are a performance saddle company, so that means we build saddles for every discipline inside the arena—reining, cutting, working cow horse, Western pleasure, horsemanship, team roping, barrel racing—we’ve had saddles at the NFR in both of those rodeo events,” Weaver said. They build saddles for the equestrians that prefer to ride outside an arena, also.

The rideability of a saddle begins in the tree. Bob’s craftsmen understand this and account for it in every build.

“As performance riding has changed, we build for all types of rideability,” Weaver explained. “We make saddles for those on a horsemanship horse who focus on shoulder, hips, and heels or for the rider that needs a little bit more room to cut; in the reining community we design some of our seats and cantles so you can rotate your pelvis to stop.”

While Bob’s Custom Saddles focus on rideability, their curb appeal isn’t exactly happenstance. For the 2019 NRHA Futurity, Bob’s once again teamed up with NRHA Corporate Partner Montana Silversmiths to build unique trophy saddles reflective of the elite accomplishment that is winning a Level 4 event.

“We could not be prouder to be back as a corporate partner of NRHA,” Weaver said. “We wanted to redesign our saddle sponsorship program for both the Futurity and Derby for the Level 4 finals.”

The chocolate-brown leather of the championship saddle harbors vintage tooling that complements the custom-made Montana Silversmiths embellishments perfectly. But what’s unique about these trophy saddles?

“The buckles on the saddlers are the exact same as the ones the champions will get to wear on their belts,” Weaver said. “It tells a story and really ties everything together. It’s a great opportunity for the NRHA to showcase what they can provide as an association for their champions while elevating the accomplishment itself to the next level.”