April 17, 2014

Executive Leathers

Back in the Saddle

Doyle Conner Jr., a sixth-generation Florida cowboy, has a passion for Florida Cracker history. But what really "trips his trigger," he says, are antique leather saddles. He's acquired a reputation nationally for his careful restorations. His shop is tucked away in the barn on the family ranch in Monticello.

Conner's interest in restoring saddles dates back 25 years, when he bought his first vintage saddle. It needed a lot of work. Sticker shock prompted him to learn the tricks of the trade himself. "Somebody put a lot of time and effort into building that saddle," he says. "I can't stand to see that little bit of history go to waste."

Since then, Conner's restored saddles -- including some by famed makers like Florida's Floyd Lingle, SC Gallup and the Collins Brothers -- have wound up in the Smithsonian, the American Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Will Rogers Museum, the American Cowgirl Hall of Fame, the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage and in senior executives' offices. He recently turned down a $5,000 offer for that first vintage saddle he bought for $150.

Tags: Around Florida

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