Sunday, July 4, 2010

Roy Rogers plastic saddles.

One-of-a-kind plastic saddle Roy rode aboard his horse, Trigger, as Marshal of the 1952 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The gleaming white plastic saddle with corona and contrasting black trim is adorned with ten dozen hand painted yellow and red roses and sterling silver slotted berry conchos. The saddle was manufactured by All-Western Plastics of Lusk, Wyoming.

Roy liked plastic saddles, commenting that they were easy on the horse and rider, but they never caught on with the general public. Of the 65 saddles the company made, only 37 have been located, and Roy’s plastic Rose Parade saddle is the finest example known to exist.

In the book "Saddlemaking in Wyoming" pages 50-51 tell the story of the plastic saddles. They were made by Bernhard Thon, Lusk, Wy, who apprenticed with T.C. Neilson. Neilson was approached by businessman William Vandergriff to make saddles and riding equipment out of plastic. According to the book the plastic saddles were built on a rawhide covered tree. The book does not give a reason why Vandergriff wanted saddles and equipment be made out of plastic. They obviously started building them around 1947. By 1949 Thon had made 60 plastic saddles. Then they relocated to Scottsbluff, NE. After they opened the business there "a cyclone came along and blew the building and the business plumb out of the country." This was the end of the plastic saddle company.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Burck,

Roy Rogers did ride on his plastic saddle in the 1952 Tournament of Roses Parade. He might have been "Marshal" of his two person equestrian group, which included Dale Evans, but they were not recognized as Grand Marshals of the Rose Parade until 1977.

Thank you for the information on plastic saddles. I wanted to add that Roy Rogers' saddle is now owned by the Autry Museum.

Sincerely yours,

Joetta Di Bella
Archivist, Pasadena Tournament of Roses

Vincent said...

A work of Art!!

Unknown said...

Great News! We have a Black and Cream Roper Style All Western Plastics Saddle currently for auction @

Hurry as this auction ends 8/23 at 5pm mst

Thanks for taking a look.

Anonymous said...

I am proud to say my father-in-law made saddles for Roy and Dale. They were beautiful. He was a talented and honorable man. I don't believe he made 60 of them as he did not move to Scottsbluff with the company. It took a good deal of time to make each one. His name was Bernard Thon. We were fortunate to see the saddles one time, as a family, when they were in the museum in Apple Valley, CA I would love to take my children to see them again, now that they are grown.