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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Saddle Slim Green made for his daughter in 1991
Saddle Slim Green made for his daughter in 1991.

Slim Green: Saddle Making

Born in Oklahoma in 1916, Austin "Slim" Green moved with his family in a covered wagon to Texas, where he learned to be a boy rodeo rider and roper. His riding experience provided him with firsthand knowledge regarding the difference between a good saddle and a bad one. Since he could not afford a good saddle, he tried to repair a bad one. Realizing that he had a natural ability with leather, he apprenticed himself to the great saddle-maker, Pop Bettis, in Lubbock, making his first saddle at age 19.

Green's saddles are popular because they are hand-tooled works of art, but also functional and comfortable, custom made to fit. A saddle takes him from 50 to 150 hours to make, depending on the intricacy of the tooling. He typically charges $7,500, but a saddle he sold for $300 in 1952 resold for $10,000. They are sought-after items; his backlog of orders number over a hundred. He has made saddles for movie stars, governors, and just plain old cowboys. For 21 years, Green, who resides in Tesuque, made a trophy saddle for the queen's mount in the New Mexico State Fair.

Featured as a master traditional artist by many arts organizations, he represented New Mexico at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. in 1992. His saddles are also in the Professional Ropers and Cowboys Association Museum, the Gene Autry National Western Heritage Museum, and the Elk City (Oklahoma) Butler Museum.

Documentation includes newspaper and magazine articles, photographs and a video.

Originally submitted by: Jeff Bingaman, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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