SHERIDAN — Link Weaver has stepped out on his own in a quiet and graceful manner.
This Saturday, he loaded his trailer and headed down the line with his bucking machine, stock show saddles, tack and a variety of Link Weaver merchandise to showcase his work as a self-employed saddle maker for the first time in his life at the College National Finals Rodeo.
The craftsman began his trade as a 17-year-old while working at Dooley Saddle and Boot Repair, where he learned to make his own boots while work was slow. He would later be employed at King’s Saddlery, King’s Ropes where he began fixing saddles, building tack and twisting rope until he honed his craft. Weaver had dedicated himself to King’s for over 30 years.
As of September, his plate was too full being employed full time and simultaneously running his own business, which resulted in him making the decision to step away from King’s and into his own craft full-time.
Bruce King, King’s owner, stands by Weaver’s work as he embarks on a legacy of his own.
“He was as loyal of an employee as you can have,” King said. “He only produces quality work.”
Weaver’s work ethic and pride of work has built a solid clientele consisting of cowboys in every realm of the industry, which has grown primarily by word-of-mouth referrals.
Stephen Yellowtail, a fourth generation rancher from Wyola, sings praises about his own custom Link Weaver saddle.
“I spend my days in the saddle; I work with a lot of other cowboys who have worked with Link and they’ve had nothing but good things to say,” Yellowtail said. “I’ve seen the quality of workmanship, usability, functionality and that’s what I’m looking for when I go for a saddle on the ranch to the roping arena. His quality and craftsmanship is second to none.”
Weaver’s talent doesn’t stop with leather. He’s concocted bucking machines that are named Juice Hogs out of a five-horse-powered transmission that mimics the quickness of a rank bronc in an arena.
Weaver started making the machines in 1993 while he continued to rodeo.
“I wanted to buy one, but they were so expensive, and they don’t even look a horse or a bull as they moved,” Weaver said. “I call them carnival rides”.
Weaver has nearly perfected his machine in the last five years and he has sold Juice Hogs to colleges across the country. Last year he made 28 machines.
Before he sends any of the machines to their new home, he rides them to make sure they consist of the speed, power and basic movements he’s learned over the years of cowboying.
Weaver hopes to meet some of the coaches he’s previously worked with and expand clientele while he’s in Casper for his first CNFR. His goals for his first year on his own are quite simple.
“I just want to be known as a good saddle maker,and keep the mortgage paid,” Weaver said.