Saturday, December 23, 2017
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Making Custom Cowboy Boots:
An Interview with Lisa Sorrell, Bespoke Cowboy Bootmaker
By Gina McKnight
As seen in the November 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.
As Marilyn Monroe eloquently stated, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” And that goes for boots, too! Every cowgirl and cowboy – whether they ride a horse, or not – knows the aesthetic value of the right boot, especially when your boots can be made-to-order from one of the top artists in boot design, Lisa Sorrell.
Raised in Missouri, now residing in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Lisa Sorrell knows design. She was taught to sew at an early age, and eventually found her calling crafting custom cowboy boots. Lisa creates “dialog through interplay of color, texture and technique, preserving tradition and keeping consistent with pioneers of the craft by interpreting vintage designs in contemporary and modern ways.”
Lisa has won many awards for her work in the United States, as well as in the Netherlands, Germany, and throughout the world. She was a featured artist on the PBS series “Craft in America” (2011), and she has been featured in many magazines, including “American Craft” and “Cowboys and Indians.” Lisa is the author of “The Art of Leather Inlay and Overlay” her first book detailing the process of creating art for traditional cowboy boot tops.
GM: Congratulations on your great success as an artist! I recently read about your accomplishments in a fashion designer magazine and was impressed with your creativity! You have been creating bespoke boots for a long time. Do you remember the first pair of custom boots you made?
LS: I got my first job in a boot shop in 1990, and I’ve owned my own business since 1996. The first two pairs of boots I made were for myself and my husband. Because I was just learning to be a bootmaker, they were both very plain, and neither of them fit well. Cowboy boot making is incredibly complex, and it takes years to master, making a beautiful pair of boots that fits.
GM: You have crafted custom boots for celebrities, such as Wynonna Judd, LeRoy Parnell, and Trisha Yearwood (to name a few), and have customers all over the world. I know you treat every pair of boots as if they were your own. Through the years, can you pick one design that has been your favorite to craft?
LS: I name all of my boots after Bluegrass and Classic Country songs. One of my favorite designs is based on a vintage cowboy boot design. I changed the shape of the leaves and flowers, but kept the idea of bluebirds and butterflies. I also made my version into a triad—the foot part of the boot ends before the side seam, and the boot top extends all the way down to the sole. I call this design “I Heard the Bluebird Sing.”
GM: Your innovative style, artistic skill, and quality craftmanship have launched your notoriety as a bootmaker. What are the steps for creating a custom boot? How long does it take from start to finish?
LS: It takes me a month to build a pair of cowboy boots. There’s a lot of wet/dry time and it’s not efficient to only make one pair of boots, so I usually make 2-3 pairs at a time.
The process begins with measuring the clients foot and customizing a last to build their boot around. The first step is to create the cowboy boot tops with all of the decorative work. The foot part is sewn onto the two front panels and the heel part is sewn onto the back panels. The side seams are sewn and then the boot is ready to be formed around the last. After lasting, I hand sew the welt, then lay the soles, and finally add the heels.
GM: I know you use only quality leathers and threads to create your one-of-a-kind boots! What leather(s) do you use? Who is your leather and thread supplier(s)?
LS: Because I typically make very intricately designed boots, I use kangaroo leather for the boot tops. It’s thin and light-weight, but also very strong. It’s ideal for creating layered inlaid and overlaid designs.
I mostly use alligator or ostrich for the foot of my boots. I prefer American alligator because unlike most reptile skins, it’s soft and durable. Ostrich is also quite strong but soft and comfortable.
GM: Your designs are intricate with great detail. To date, how many pairs of cowboy boots have you made? What has been the most challenging design requested?
LS: I had an old bootmaker tell me that I wouldn’t know what I was doing until I’d made at least 500 pairs of boots. I found that he was quite correct! I stopped counting after I’d made over 1,000 pairs, and I have no idea how many pairs of boots I’ve made now.
The most challenging pair of boots I ever made featured the eagle from the Austrian coat of arms on the boot tops. The detail in the design and the delicacy of the eagle’s feathers weren’t easy to recreate.
GM: I am thinking custom belts with custom boots. I saw a pair of boots on your website with a matching belt. Do you create custom belts, too? What other products do you create besides cowboy boots?
LS: I only make cowboy boots. I have a belt maker I work with when a customer commissions a belt to match their boots.
GM: You are a busy bee! Your creativity and motivation is inspiring! What do you like to do in your spare time?
LS: My hobby and my passion is music - listening, not performing. I enjoy attending Bluegrass festivals!
GM: With your vast talent and experience, what is your advice for novice bootmakers?
LS: My best advice for beginning bootmakers is to practice, and practice, and practice. You’ll never completely master boot making, but the journey is immensely satisfying.
GM: As an expert craftsman, winning many accolades and honors, what are your plans for the future?
LS: My goal for the future is to make more of the boots I enjoy making. Bespoke cowboy boots are commissioned work, and I’m moving into a time in my career where I’m more choosy about the commissions I accept. I’ve realized that I find joy in working with designs and clients that interest me, and that joy shows in my work. I want to pursue the commissions that bring out the best in me.
Connect with Lisa and view all of her amazing creations…
Gina McKnight is a freelance writer from Ohio USA.
|Lisa Sorrell at her shop in Oklahoma|
Sunday, December 3, 2017
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Certified Journeyman Farrier
Hoof Care Guides from an experienced farrier.
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Wednesday, November 1, 2017
|Devin at work. Photo by Bill Slader Photography|
Painted Lady Horsemanship:
An Interview with Trainer Devin Young
Archived article from the October 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete.
No duplication without permission.
“I am absolutely blessed to have such an amazing team behind me and an amazing family who wants to see me succeed.”
Several years ago, I was at an Amish barn in southeastern Ohio where I meet a lovely eleven-year-old Paint Quarter Horse mare who was broke to drive and had a great disposition. I was in the market for another horse and the mare immediately connected with me. She was for sale, caught in the middle of divorced owners; registered, but with no papers. She was a little battered from being in a field with several other horse breeds, clearly low in herd order, but well taken care of and in good health. When I told my Dad about her that night, he said he would buy her for me for my birthday. I was thrilled, and the mare with no name came to my barn the next day. She immediately settled in, and I named her “Zubedia” or Zubie for short.
Since Zubie was broke to drive, she liked to go-go-go all the time – she out-paced my Quarter gelding, Mac. I decided she needed a refresher course with a trainer. One of my colleagues introduced me to Devin Young, a devoted horse-lover and trainer. After Devin spent a session with Zubie at my barn, we made arrangements for Zubie to spend 30 days at Rocky Point Stables, Athens, Ohio, in Devin’s expert hands.
Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Devin moved to Ohio while still in school. Devin says, “I have ridden my entire life, but outside of that I played volleyball for years, took kickboxing for a while, and pursued a career in modeling. Though I was offered a modeling contract, I decided to stick with horses and later on did small to large fashion shows in Columbus, Ohio.” A member of the Ohio High School Rodeo team her entire high school career, Devin began rodeo on a horse that was “meaner than snot” that she trained herself. She bought her first horse at 13 years of age, and her second horse, whom she still owns, at 15 years of age. She currently owns four Quarter Horses, and a TWH purchased from Bella Run Equine. Devin lives in Albany, Ohio, with her husband Damon and her beautiful daughter Coraline, who also loves horses. Now an expert (and highly recommended) trainer, Devin is the proprietor of Painted Lady Horsemanship. Here she shares her insight to horses, riding, training, and more…
GM: When was your first encounter with a horse?
DY: My first encounter with a horse was actually the ponies that work the pony rides at the zoo. From then on, my mom said I was obsessed, so at the age of four, I started riding lessons on a horse I will never forget, named Sonny. I was raised by mom, so I wasn’t always able to take lessons as money was tight, but I always found a way to be around horses. I went to summer camps, volunteered at farms, started teaching lessons and so on.
GM: You are a seasoned equestrian! When did you realize that you wanted to become a horse trainer?
DY: Oddly enough becoming a horse trainer was not my first choice of careers. From the age of four I wanted to be a veterinarian. As I got closer and closer to entering college and the pre-vet program, I realized I wasn’t going to be a good fit. I decided to find something else that was still hands-on, helpful and around horses, which is when I decided I wanted to go into equine massage. Turns out I didn’t really enjoy that either. After I graduated from Hocking College, I didn’t really have a plan other than to be a good mom to my daughter. I started training a couple of horses for people I knew and was really enjoying it and for once it felt like my calling. Luckily, I have this awesome farrier (also my mentor) who believed in me and knew someone who needed some lessons, so he recommended me to them. A couple days later I got in contact with my first Painted Lady Horsemanship client, and from then on it just spread like wildfire.
GM: I heard that Hocking College has/had a great equine program. How has the program prepared you for your current vocation? Were there specific mentors/professors at the College who inspired your career?
DY: Hocking College had a very unique equine program, classes you can’t normally find anywhere else. I originally decided to go there for the Equine Health and Complementary Therapies program and ended up graduating in that program and one class shy of finishing the Farrier Science program. All in all, I learned a tremendous amount about advanced health care, anatomy, complementary therapies that can be used, and so much more about hoof health and care I even thought was possible. Though none of this is specific to literally training the horse, all of what I learned systemically of the horse makes an incredible difference when training. Now when I work with a horse, I can look them over as a whole - from foot to conformation to muscle to balance. So many times horses come in with some kind of physical problem that has been pointed to as a behavioral problem. It’s my job to advocate for the horse whether that means I am actually training or I’m helping educate owners on other possibilities for the behavior, lameness, etc.
I was incredibly blessed to be taught by some of the most amazing and knowledgeable horsemen and horsewomen there are. The instructors at Hocking College have years upon years of experience in the industry and their specific fields, not only that but many of them have their own very successful businesses outside of the classroom. Every single instructor I had the pleasure of learning from has a hand in my success and my expanded knowledge. There is a particular instructor who has not only been my farrier for a few years now, but he is also my mentor and my friend - Bryan Farcus. Bryan has been nothing short of supportive of me, my dream and my business. Bryan is to thank for Painted Lady Horsemanship, and since the beginning, he’s been in the back rooting me on, giving me advice, and to this day he still teaches me something new every time I see him.
GM: Would you recommend Hocking College's Equine Program to those looking for a career in horses?
DY: I was very fortunate to enter and exit the program when I did as I was able to take full advantage of the classes and the knowledge of the instructors. Classes then were still taught well and passionately to the students with safety, education and success in mind. Under the current administration I am sad to say I would not recommend the program as it has seemingly become more about what will make the school more money and not continuing the legacy of unique and enriching classes Hocking College is so well known for. Most unfortunate is that the majority of the quality instructors have either voluntarily resigned or been terminated.
GM: That is sad to hear and devastating news for our community. As a horse owner, and the many horse owners in our area (and beyond), we rely on experts to help us with our equines. You have made such a huge difference in my mare, Zubie! What training methods do you use to school a horse?
DY: As I have tried to educate myself more and more over the years about the best methods of horse training, I find myself picking pieces up here and there from specific trainers I admire and sometimes from the training trends. Sometimes I will focus on something Buck Brannaman uses, other times I will use something similar to what Clinton Anderson does, but I incorporate my own methods, too, that I’ve come up with by trial and error; and, yes, sometimes I even use a clicker. The most important thing to remember when working with the horse is that they are individuals; a training method I use on one might not work with another. I have to start slow, learn the horse, ask for simple things and build some resemblance of trust, then from there we are kind of just figuring one another out. My goal is always to leave the horse better off at the end of a session than when I started. It’s not about submission, it’s about communication and trying to build a relationship with the horse and give them confidence. For some horses that’s overcoming a fear, for others that’s doing something really easy and getting a big reward, others are adventurous and want to do something completely new. As long as the horse leaves me with a better head on its shoulders and the communication between horse and rider is there, I am happy.
GM: My mare Zubie has been pampered for too long and has picked up a few vices - nipping, trotting when I want her to walk, and moving when I mount. Are these vices easily fixed?
DY: It all really depends on the horse and why they are performing that behavior and how long it has been going on. I’d say the hardest to fix is the nipping, but still able to be accomplished. Moving around while mounting takes a few days of consistent training usually and they will quit doing it. The walking off while mounting is a common one I deal with, so I’ve gotten decent in solving it pretty quickly. I feel most of the time walking off is stemmed from being allowed to be disrespectful and/or has been learned and is now a habit. I like to squash that behavior right away. When a horse is trotting while you want them to walk can be a number of issues, most of the time it is rider error. Tensing up while on the horse and they feel that nervous energy and try to do something with it so they trot. Also, many times riders will think they are telling the horse to slow down when in reality they are gripping on the reins pulling themselves forward which is essentially telling the horse to go faster. Like with anything else, when it comes to horses, there are so many variables to take into consideration that need to be looked into carefully to help resolve any vice with the horse. Most importantly owners of horses are best to educate themselves to get the most out of their relationship with their horse. Though I am happy to report Zubie is no longer having issues with these vices, thanks to her mom seeking out some help.
GM: Zubie is much better, thanks to you, Devin. Working full-time with horses keeps you busy and I know you are in demand in Ohio! Describe a day in your life and how it revolves around horses...
DY: A day in my life revolves around all the animals including the horses, my almost three-year-old daughter and my husband trying to keep up with me. At home we have 4 horses, 10 chickens, 5 cats and 4 dogs, so for about four hours a day I am just feeding animals. A few days a week I travel to my off-site clients to help them train at home, usually appointments start at 9-10 a.m. and I can schedule up to three clients in a day. My off-site clients range from actual training, refreshers, lessons, and barrel training. After I have finished with all my off-site clients I will make my way to Rocky Point Stables, that is the barn that I work out of. I board my barrel horse at Rocky Point and lease a couple of stalls for training horses. By the time I get to the barn, it is usually afternoon and I will then work whichever horses I currently have in and my barrel horse. If I’m lucky, a few days a month I get to run my horse at some local NBHA or IBRA races. Though I love colt starting and training horses, my heart will always live for fast horses and adrenaline rushes. By the end of a “normal” day I get home about 7:30 p.m. and feed my horses at home their dinner before feeding the husband and the kid. It’s busy day to day, it literally revolves around horses and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
GM: I have been totally impressed with your skill level as a trainer. You seem to be a natural in and out of the saddle with horses. What are your plans for the future?
DY: I am so honored to be recognized for my horsemanship at all at this point in my business, it’s such a surreal feeling. I have to laugh for a second when trying to answer this because my husband would roll his eyes and ask, “What aren’t my plans for the future?” I am definitely a dreamer, big idea, knows no limits type of person, so I probably have goals for the next ten years. Short term I’d like to continue to grow my business, keep my training stalls filled, buy land before winter that eventually will become Painted Lady Ranch, finish my business plan, attend some clinics, start my prospect and so on. Long term my plan is to have the barn and arena built for Painted Lady Ranch, teach clinics, take on more performance based clients for barrel racing, eventually I’d like to focus mainly on colt starting and putting prospects on the pattern. I’d love to mentor someone else and give back some knowledge, maybe somewhere in there I can take some time to run my own horses. I am absolutely blessed to have such an amazing team behind me and an amazing family who wants to see me succeed.
GM: Do you have advice for novice riders and those looking to purchase their first horse?
DY: My advice for novice riders is to ride, ride, ride! By riding frequently you will learn feel, softness, lightness, balance, you will learn how the horse communicates and how to communicate back. There is nothing that can replace plain old time in the saddle! When you get stuck, ask for help, there is no shame in seeking education and further your knowledge. There’s always someone out there more experienced than the next guy. If you don’t have access to a horse, find someone who has one that will let you ride in trade for cleaning stalls or unloading hay. The only way to get better is to immerse yourself and be consistent.
For those looking to purchase their first horse, know what is most important to you in a horse, be realistic - there is no such thing as a unicorn, what you get is what you pay for, in that the cheaper the horse, the more work you will have to put in. I highly suggest finding a reputable veterinarian to do a pre-purchase exam. There is so much more to the horse that a first-time owner may not catch and then may get in a sticky situation if the horse isn’t what they thought it was. Also, know that it will take the horse time to adjust and get to know you. They may be very different once you get them home, remember the horse had no say in being purchased so you will have to work harder at the relationship at first. Last tip, take an experienced horse person with you to look at horses, they have an eye for what will make a good fit or not; trust in your friend, trainer, mom, dad or whomever.
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
DY: Horsemanship to me feels sacred, it’s this never-ending way of life where I strive day in and day out to be better for the horse and with the horse. For whatever reason, I have been drawn to the horse my whole life and there’s this higher level of understanding that I want to reach. Within Horsemanship it is well known that you will never know it all, you’re constantly learning and understanding the horse in new ways, I believe that’s what is so addicting about it that I can keep learning, I can reach new levels of communication with the horse. Horsemanship is enlightening, challenging and incredibly rewarding. When one even learns the basics of horsemanship, a whole new world opens and you notice your horse is so much different, better, now that you are being let on to this language that was once dismissed in place of barbaric training methods. To have a mutual, working relationship with an animal as large as the horse - who we shouldn’t really in the first place - is in every sense of the word magical. To practice horsemanship to me is a religious experience and I encourage everyone to learn and practice horsemanship in everything they do with their horse.
For more information on Painted Lady Horsemanship, see more pics of Zubie and Devin, or to follow along on the journey, find Devin at…
Gina McKnight is a freelance writer from Ohio USA. gmcknight.com
|Devin working with Zubie at Rocky Point Stable, Athens, Ohio|
|Devin and Dewie, a new student owned by Taylor Adlesberger|
|Devin schooling Mingo, owned by Susan Eddy|
|Devin's kill pen save Poe with daughter Coraline|
|Summertime barrel racing. Photo by Bill Slader Photography|
|Devin and crew. Photo by Angela's Photography|
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Get Clean, Then Get Credit Worthy
by Constance Ray
Getting clean is hard, but fighting your way back to financial stability may be even harder.
Nevertheless, it is possible for recovering addicts to get their lives back, and that includes financial peace of mind and the ability to find a job and buy a house. You do, however, have to accept that this is not going to happen in a day.
There are steps that any recovering addict should take if she has pinged her credit:
● Reduce outgoing expenses. If you are living cost-free or at low cost in rehab or a halfway house, stay there as long as possible while you develop a financial recovery plan.
● Ask people in your support group to tell you how they recovered financially.
● Accept help from your family.
● Get advice from a non-profit credit counseling agency. Little known fact: credit unions offer free financial counseling.
● Check your credit report and fix inaccuracies, keeping in mind that seventy percent of credit reports have mistakes. Use quizzle.com and creditsesame.com to obtain free or low-cost reports.
● Also demand that the credit reporters delete any information that cannot be verified, like debts to businesses that no longer exist or companies that changed names because they merged.
● Don’t apply for high fee credit cards. This is predatory lending and will likely hurt your credit some more.
● Don’t fall for TV or internet scams that promise to repair or consolidate your credit. These companies never do what they claim. They only do things you could do on your own without paying a fortune.
Should you declare bankruptcy?
You will receive a lot of advice on whether or not to declare bankruptcy, much of it bad. Some people will tell you that going bankrupt is in violation of the Alcoholics Anonymous mandate to make amends. However, you can always repay debt that represents a serious moral obligation, even if you have declared bankruptcy.
Furthermore, the judge who declares you bankrupt is going to have better ethics about who to repay and on what schedule than the collection agency that is hounding you with phone calls.
To determine whether bankruptcy is your best option, figure out how long it will take you to find a job, secure safe housing, pay off your debts and re-establish your credit. If the answer if more than seven years, declaring bankruptcy makes sense, because the bankruptcy will only show up on your credit report for seven years from the time of declaration.
If you are determined to avoid chapter eleven, negotiate with creditors for lower payments over more time. Tell them the alternative is bankruptcy. Ask them to accept direct deposit of payments out of your bank account.
Protecting assets and rebuilding a solid financial profile
Consider putting some or all of your financial resources in the hands of a trusted family member, like a parent or spouse. This may save you from losing your house, car, or savings.
Pay down on your overdue mortgage payments, if you have them, first so you don’t lose your house. Pay down and pay off the highest interest credit cards second.
Aim for credit card debt that is only seven percent of your available line of credit or less. That is the shortest path to a better credit report. Use any large, available sums of cash to pay down on credit immediately.
Get one secured credit card if you have no credit or if you have lost all your credit cards or declared bankruptcy. The secured credit card requires you to put a sum of money on your card upfront. Then you cannot borrow in excess of that sum. This may seem like a waste of time and money, but it is not. It is a part of recovering an acceptable credit score.
For addicts who lost control of their finances, finding the way back to stability requires, above all things, patience. It may take years, but you will make it happen a lot faster if you have a good plan and if you stick to that plan.
Constance Ray started Recoverywell.org with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Friday, October 13, 2017
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Recently, while dining at Lake Hope Lodge, McArthur, Ohio, with a friend, we stopped after lunch in the Lodge Gift Shop to browse. As horse-lovers (always), we caught a glimpse of a metal horse with a stone in the center. There were many really cool metal designs - ranging from very tall lawn/garden hooks/figures, to small frogs and bugs. Of course, we each had to buy a horse... what should be a yard ornament sits in my office (see below). The stone in the center of the horse is unique and the horse is shaped around the stone...
Visit www.colonialwagonandwheel.com for more, or if a local, stop by Lake Hope Lodge. The designs are quality, heavy art pieces that will stay in your yard/garden (office) forever.
Thanks Colonial Wagon & Wheel!
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