Horse Saddles for Disabled Riders

Arkansas tack maker helps disabled riders find their seat.

| May/June 2009

  • Devin in the saddle
    Thrilled with his custom saddle, Devin goes riding every day.
    courtesy Gray's Custom Saddlery and Western Store
  • Palmer saddle
    The "Palmer" saddle has special toe guards within the stirrups.
    courtesy Gray's Custom Saddlery and Western Store
  • Landsdown saddle
    The "Landsdown" special needs saddle is on its way to Canada.
    courtesy Gray's Custom Saddlery and Western Store
  • GiGi saddle
    The "GiGi" saddle, the latest Gray creation, is made of fancy filigree silver and built to show.
    courtesy Gray's Custom Saddlery and Western Store

  • Devin in the saddle
  • Palmer saddle
  • Landsdown saddle
  • GiGi saddle

A tip of the white Stetson hat goes to John Gray of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, who has gone the extra mile to make sure that everyone who wants to ride a horse has a saddle to fit their needs. He stepped up to the plate when Nina, an avid rider, was left a paraplegic after an accident and no longer able to participate in her favorite equine sports of trail riding and horse showing. She needed something that would allow her to compete independently in shows – once on the horse; any assistance from a second person would disqualify her.

Since there was no division for this type of event, she was instrumental in starting one so other riders could compete for trophies on their own merit. “Help me on my horse, and I can take it from there,” Nina now says.

John says, “Give Nina the reins and off she goes. She has always been a good rider and a handicap won’t slow her down. I’m happy I could help. She doesn’t look at her injury as life threatening, but it is life changing.”

John’s specialty as a saddle maker is in the design and craft of saddles for physically challenged riders. He believes that because a person is physically challenged doesn’t mean they need to give up a pleasurable sport, and he spends time with each client to understand their specific needs.



Elizabeth was a competition gymnast until she was hurt in an automobile accident. She became extremely depressed until she was able to order a saddle, specially designed for her impairment, from John. Elizabeth raised money to purchase the saddle by auctioning off a guitar signed by a number of country music personalities just for the occasion.

For more than 20 years, John has made saddles for people with difficulties resulting from accidents, illness and diseases. He uses his engineering skills to create custom designs on an individual basis.

cory
7/6/2016 5:10:19 PM

Was promised a saddle from this man in 6 months. Been 18 months was paid for in full at the beginning and now he won't even answer me.







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