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Carving a Legacy: M.L. Leddy's in the Fort Worth Stockyards

Intricate saddles made by hand at M. L. Leddy’s in Fort Worth continue to preserve a rare breed of fine art that remains a tradition among ranching and rodeo communities.

Authenticity is everywhere at M.L. Leddy's in the Fort Worth Stockyards, from its collection of handmade boots and high-end cowboy hats to the three-story building itself, which was rumored to have been a bordello before being purchased by Mr. Leddy prior to World War I.

Today, the building remains the flagship store of the Leddy's brand, which is known among ranchers and rodeo professionals as the premiere name in Western saddles and accessories. The top level still serves as the saddle workshop, where vintage saddles from the early 20th century are reminders of the Leddy's legacy. 

Leddy's Fort Worth
A longtime leather artisan for M.L. Leddy’s, Steve Schmidt has been outfitting cattle ranchers, young cowboys and rodeo champions for more than 30 years. (©Tyler Sharp)

“The saddle business is tougher these days,” says general manager Mark Dunlap, but Leddy’s remains the gold standard: It was even commissioned to create saddles for former President George W. Bush to present as gifts to foreign dignitaries.

Still, Leddy's continues to be the go-to saddle brand for rodeo champs and ranchers. Aside from a few old leather-cutting contraptions and WWII-era sewing machines, each saddle that leaves M.L. Leddy’s is handcrafted “the way Mr. Leddy did it,” Dunlap says—with ornate details, built-to-last craftsmanship and a rustic, refined aesthetic. 

Leddy's Fort Worth
Schmidt puts finishing touches on a luxury Leddy's saddle, which was awarded to a 2015 cutting horse champion. (©Tyler Sharp)

Gallery: An Inside Look at M. L. Leddy's

All photos ©Tyler Sharp