Business feature: Portales man opening saddle shop

Ken Nelson got into the saddle-making business in an unusual way.

He was raising some horses and needed a saddle. Nelson found a saddle maker who said he would make it for him, if he cut down a tree for him.

But by the time he got the tree cut, Nelson said, “Well, he up and died on me.”

Later on, Nelson got into working with silver, making spurs and other items. He need a saddle really bad so, he bought the tools.

A couple of books and some saddle makers coached him through the process.

“The first six months it was a struggle,” Nelson said. “I got to going and I built about 75 of them. Then I got a chance to work for an established saddle maker and a really good one.”

Nelson was an apprentice for year with the saddle maker. But Nelson and the saddle maker parted ways. Nelson eventually made his way to Portales

“I came down here and liked what I saw,” Nelson said. “I figured I would come down and open a shop.”

Nelson has been working in the saddle business for nine years and plans to open KD Custom Saddle Shop on the square Aug. 1.

Nelson makes custom saddles and other little things, such as, shafts, saddles, tack and gift items, wallets and checkbook covers. He also does repair work, but he is very limited in what he can do for garments because his equipment is not setup for it.

“In a one man shop you can only go in so many directions,” Nelson said. “But I do a lot more repair on tack. Matter of fact, over the last few years I have done a lot more repairs than anything else.”

“I’ve been around a lot of rodeo people, so I understand their needs,” Nelson said.