With a gentle passion, Ben has made custom full-size horse equipment for people in all walks of life... from the US Equestrian Team, to local backyard riders, to riders with individual challenges in therapeutic riding programs. He has worked with therapeutic riding instructors to create specialized, individualized equipment to meet the needs of some very special riders, saying, "You want everything to fit just right - on the horse and in the child's hands."
Ben's theory in life... keep making it until it gets better. And each creation that Ben made was one level better than the last, a theory that continues on with his daughter, Barbara. His trade is one that has virtually been untouched by technology over the past century, one that is a dying trade because few people are willing to dedicate themselves to the long apprenticeship it takes.
During the last 50 years of his life, Ben lived on the East Coast from Massachusetts to Florida, practicing his trade and meeting people from all walks of life. He took pride in knowing that, with good care, his leather work will last a lifetime. "They may not remember me, but my work will stand."
Daughter Barbara has been watching her Dad work on leather all of her life (when she wasn't riding or caring for her horses). As a young girl she often came into Dad's shop just to smell the leather and to see if Dad would allow her to use his precious tools to make something. Over the years he has gradually taught her the basics of his trade. As a teenager, to make extra money (to feed the horse in the barn), she learned to do repair work on halters, leads, and complete simple saddle repairs. During the last few years before Ben's passing, Barbara apprenticed with her Dad to learn his vanishing leather-craft in making model horse tack.
"It amazed me to watch Dad work! The love and patience he put into the details of each new saddle was inspiring. I only hope that one day my skill will match his. I know that my love of creating these beautiful miniature saddles matches that of his already. Every day that I spent working side-by-side with Dad I learned a few more 'tricks of the trade' from him."
Barbara has been riding horses nearly all of her life, from Massachusetts to New Jersey and Maryland, and now California. She worked on racing horse farms in Florida and for seven years directed a therapeutic horseback riding program in Massachusetts for disabled children. "Dad created lots of specialized equipment for the children that I taught." Today she works in a school system with children with disabilities and comes home to her leather workshop creating saddles and continually improving her skill. Just like her father, she is learning to make each saddle or accessory a little better than the last one. Ben's lifelong passion has now become hers too.
Ben Perry, Master Saddler of over 50 years, crafted a life of quiet accomplishment. He lovingly created a selection of authentic-looking model horse saddles and equipment for model horse collectors of any age. All of his creations are individually handcrafted from 100% genuine cowhide leather and kangaroo lacing. Some are created simply from a well-detailed photograph. Each is a time-intensive labor of love. When people see his model horse tack, they are truly taken aback by the quality of the craftsmanship that they hold in their hands. Many instantly go back to their childhood when they collected model horses. About five years before his passing, he entered a highly detailed basket-weaved tooled Western Roper Saddle in a local fair on Cape Cod and won "Best of Show" out of 51 categories! He was "pleased as punch" and very humble, never having entered his work in any competition of any kind.