Just a smidge off of Route 66 in the heart of historic Yukon, a glass storefront reads “C Bar H Saddlery.” That’s where Clinton “Doc” Hole is working his magic. The Oklahoma maker has been crafting customized saddles since 2009 – and for that first entire year, he grossed $11,000. But during the 2020 pandemic, he filled his biggest order ever at just over $15,000.
Doc’s customers include ranchers, those in the rodeo industry, ranch hands, ropers, barrel racers, horse trainers and more.
“A lot of men still ride horses to move cattle,” says Doc. “They have to have equipment to do that, and I make the equipment.”
He also makes leather goods for law enforcement, has a cinch loom to make custom cinches, and can whip up just about anything someone needs.
Doc purchases saddle trees in order to build his saddles. An amazing artist in his own right, Doc explains: “I draw on paper first, and then I transfer the images by tooling them onto the leather.” He uses stamp tools and hand cuts with a swivel knife to tool the leather, and ornate silver trim adornment is usually part of the package.
The Fairview native knows horses – he spent years on the rodeo circuit, riding in rough stock events such as bronc riding and saddle bronc riding, including several years on the bull riding circuit. He competed in the sport of cowboy mounted shooting, winning titles that include a world championship. And he personally trained his horse, Lou, for competition and as a trick horse for variety acts. Doc also worked livestock auctions, pushing cattle on horseback.
Starting out as a trained farrier, Doc specialized in equine hoof care and shoeing horses. Then he learned saddle making from the renowned master craftsman Don Atkinson in Ingram, Texas. Doc and his wife Mindy, a certified horse therapy riding instructor, were living with her parents at the time.
“I came home from Ingram and set up shop to make saddles in my in-laws’ garage,” says Doc. But with a growing client base, he outgrew the garage and moved his shop into downtown Yukon.
These days, the majority of Doc’s saddle orders come by phone, and he ships most products that he builds. His customers span the U.S. and into Canada. He improved on a barrel racing saddle design that he developed several years ago, and a large number of his customers want saddles for their Gypsy Cob horses; currently very popular, it’s a draft horse breed that originated in the British Isles.
An Equine Love Story
In 2004, Doc met Mindy, who has quite a few equine and business-related university degrees under her belt. In 2006, the two married on horseback under an Old West-style wedding arch that Doc made out of wire. Doc was riding Lou, and the wedding took place on the historic Fort Reno parade grounds.
“As far as we know, we are the only couple in the Fort’s history with a wedding on horseback,” says Doc.
After exchanging their vows, Doc and Lou made a victory lap around the Fort Reno grounds, and Lou reared back on her hind legs in a classic “Hi-Yo Silver Away!” moment.