With building plans on hand, student Roger Blomquist opened an 1800s-style saddle company, Deseret Saddlery, based in Provo, Utah.
A former architectural designer, 42-year-old Roger entered college so he could engross himself in American Frontier history and eventually share his love with others. He’s at the cusp of re-ceiving his PhD from the University of Nebraska, with only a dissertation (on the human side of saddles) left to write. His saddle building plans are conceived from his master’s thesis on the evolution of the Wyoming Cowboy Stock Saddle from 1860-1930.
Roger’s entry into school was spurred by his work in Western TV shows and films. He was hired first for his wrangling experience, but his saddles also garnered attention, and various examples of his work appear in Touched by an Angel, Avenging Angel and the National Geographic’s IMAX Lewis and Clark. Since he wore his first baby shoes (red-on-white cowboy boots), Roger has cherished the Old West, as he grew up hearing stories of family members crossing the plains in wagons and pulling handcarts. But his love of leather came from riding with saddles, which he would then repair to learn their inner workings before eventually crafting his own.
One of the first saddles he ever built was donated to the Manitou Springs Candlelighters organization in Colorado, which helps children suffering from terminal cancer. Re-enactors and mounted cowboy shooters love him, Roger says, because his commitment to historical research melds so perfectly with their commitment to living history. He’s tracked the double rig to Texas, the single rig to California and the three-quarter rig to Montana, but his research into stock saddles will probably never end. Currently, he’s photographing all the saddles housed at the Wyoming State Museum. Every new experience with historical saddles eventually makes its mark on one of Roger’s Old West saddles.