Wyoming Arts Council

Western & Jahiel team up for Wyofile profile of custom bridle and bit craftsman Tom Balding

Tom Balding in his shop. Photo by Adam Jahiel.

Two Wyoming Arts Council fellowship winners teamed up to profile custom bridle and bit craftsman Tom Balding in the latest issue of WyoFile.

The story was written by Sheridan’s Sam Western, a 2012 creative writing fellowship recipient in fiction and author of Pushed off the Mountain and Sold Down the River: Wyoming’s Search for its Soul. The excellent photos were shot by Adam Jahiel of Story. Adam has received two WAC visual arts fellowships and his “Cowboys on the Range” exhibit was seen in 2008 at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne.

Sam explores Tom Balding’s intriguing life and delves into the details of his craft:

His passion for the last 28 years… has been horses and what riders use to influence their behavior: bits and spurs. Some of the world’s top riders use his custom-crafted products.

Balding’s snaffle bits, many made with gleaming bits of stainless steel, have a stark, sleek look. They feature mouthpieces of copper inlaid sweet iron, a cold-rolled carbon steel preferred by horses because the rusting tastes sweet.

His shanks, western-style bits connected together by a metal bar, range from bare-bones pieces of modern art to the more ornate, decorated with silver plate or initialed in bronze. They go by the name of Switchback, Steamboat, and Diamond Cross.

That’s just a sample. Read the entire story at http://wyofile.com/2012/06/tom-balding-custom-bridle-bit-craftsman-was-inspired-when-bucked-off-a-horse/

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