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Ben is a native Montanan, raised on a horse ranch near Billings, MT. Ben and his family reside on the home place today.
From an early age, Ben knew he wanted to build saddles. After building his first saddle at age 14, he later apprenticed as a young man with Buck Bradford. Ben’s first shop was opened in 1982. Swanke Saddlery has been Ben’s full-service, full-time business for over 30 years.
Ben and his wife Pam have raised their three children with a life-long love of horses. Their daughter Jamie is now an avid Horsewoman training both performance and ranch horses in Montana, Colorado and Texas. Their younger son Caleb has spent several years working alongside his father in the saddle shop and is also a recreational horse trainer. Nolan, the oldest son, ranches and raises his family in the Billings area passing along his love of horses.
Swanke Saddlery has custom-built over 1000 saddles since beginning their business. We pride ourselves for giving it our all on everything we build.
K.T. Monson is the son of a Montana cowman and horseman who raised him on ranches in Montana, riding horses and working cattle. K.T. is from a long line of horseman, one of which was his great grandfather who in the early 1900’s sold horses to Ft. Keogh in Miles City, MT for the US Calvary.
K.T. had a driving interest in saddle making from a very young age. At 13, with the help of the expert saddle maker Jim Beeman from Colorado, he made his first 2 saddles. During his high -school years, he spent evenings and weekends working at a tack and boot repair business he established at his fathers ranch.
In 1985 K.T. was introduced to Ben Swanke by horse trainer Tom Curtin. He went to work for Ben for two summers before graduating from high-school. After high-school he moved to Texas and went to work for noted cutting horse trainer Buster Welch. Saddle making was always his love, so after 6 months, he returned to Montana and re-established his position at Swanke Saddlery and has remained with us ever since.
Along with his daily craftsmanship in the saddle shop K.T. is also an avid enthusiast of traditional styles of horsemanship and historic saddles. In his spare time he researches and builds styles of saddles from all over the world.
On top of all that K.T. has also built his own weaving loom and has provided our customers with several hand made Navajo blankets with his own custom designs. All his blankets are made with U.S.A. wool and come in a variety of weights and colors. Click here to see more.