Rusty May, Saddle Maker

Photo of class at Rusty May's saddle shop

Class at Rusty May’s saddle shop

Rusty May has been working with horses almost all of his life. During Rusty’s teen years he broke and trained horses, by necessity, to work his way through school. He learned to shoe horses while working summers on local ranches, and wrangling for the U.S. Forest Service.

The old established ranch outfits of that era required a cowboy to know how to shoe a horse and repair his own gear in order to hire on. After serving his country in the U.S. Air Force and extensive experience in many jobs, Rusty’s reputation as a shoeing smith demanded more and more of his time.

In 1970 he became a full time shoer and continued to develop his saddle making skills. During this time hebegan a close relationship with the master saddle maker, Austin “Slim” Green, of Santa Fe, New Mexico. After working with Jack Neeley, his uncle, and knowing “Slim” Green as a friend, teacher and mentor, Rusty has had the “best of the best” as teachers from the old school of quality craftsmanship. Learning both English and Western styles from his Uncle Jack and spending many hours working with “Slim” has provided crucial knowledge and techniques of saddle making now lost to most in the trade. These two old style saddle makers have been a great asset to Rusty’s career.

Photo of Rusty MayDuring the late sixties and all of the seventies Rusty was a full time shoeing smith and a part time saddle maker. In 1981 he moved to his present location in Loveland, Colorado and became a full time saddle maker. He has worked in all aspects of the horse business: from breeding, breaking, and training, to shoeing pleasure horses, show horses, gaited and Olympic trained horses. This is of significant importance for his ability to build custom saddles. Having all this experience in different aspects of the horse world gives him a unique over all view of the horse industry.