Bruce Martin cuts bridle reins from a side of leather.

After my first two project ideas fell through, I was scrambling for another story. Luckily, I remembered seeing a tack saddle repair shop between Ashland and Hartsburg this past year! I called Mr. Martin and he agreed to let me pester him for the rest of the year with photos, interviews, audio, and video.

I am so excited to spend time with him. He is a really cool guy. He began his shop in 1983, after buying the equipment off of someone else. He had lots of horse experience, but no leatherwork experience. He described his shop as a “trial and error,” as he learned how to use the equipment. At Show-Me Harness Shop, he creates horse tack pretty much from scratch.  A St. Louis native, he lived with his grandparents in Ashland every summer until his family moved back to the country when he was in high school. He has lived in the country-side between Hartsburg and Ashland every since.

Not only does he have his shop, but he works for the City of Columbia, is a Free Mason as well as a member of Eastern Star and helps out with the Rainbows. He is also a member of  Woodcrest Primitive Baptist church. When discussing what days were easiest for us to get together, he listed off all the meetings he has to attend weekly.

After photographing and doing audio, he and I just stood around in his shop and he told me stories about the old days in Ashland. When he grew up, everyone around there rode horses. He used to catch a ride from a neighbor on his buggy into town.

Overall, he is awesome.



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