A note from John Burgun, the founder of Roohide:
I grew up on two different sheep and cattle stations in central New South Wales, Australia, with two younger sisters and a little brother. The stations were mostly pastoral country with some mixed farming managed by my parents Brian and Judith Burgun. All of the ranch work at the station was done on horseback or horse and buggy so I got to handle plenty of “bush” horses. Like most Aussies that are so far from town, you soon learn how to fix your own problems – whether horses, machinery, or tack. We called it “bush technology!”
Leatherwork always fascinated me. I remember times when all I wanted for Christmas was enough leather to build a bridle or repair a piece of tack. I left home at 12 to attend boarding school. My heart was always at the station and the way of life I grew up with. Even today my experiences at the stations are the core of who I am and how I live my life. I loved the “bush.”
I need to thank my parents for instilling in me the importance of family honesty, integrity, a solid work ethic and a belief in God. This is what I came to America with in December 1984.
One Step at a Time
A short time after arriving in the US, while attending California Farrier College under Clois Earls, I injured my back. At that time, Earls had a saddle maker named Ralph Alvarez working for him, doing repairs and building saddles for the numerous feedlots in the Imperial Valley. Saddle making had been in Ralph’s family for generations. While my back was healing I began building saddles with him. Ralph’s father filling a pick-up truck with saddles and selling them to Ranchers is what inspired me to start Roohide Saddlery.
Over the next few years I got to spend time with two horse trainers, Bill Martin and Frank Craighead, which allowed me to get to know the feel of what a saddle needs to be both in and out of the show arena. Having a first-hand understanding of what a rider was after in their saddle, I was able to handcraft saddles to meet their needs. As much as I still want to be in the arena competing, having my saddles in there has been a compelling consolation.
My wife Yvonne and I began Roohide Saddlery with one piece of leather at a time. I couldn’t have done it without her. I would make a headstall or breastcollar, sell them and take the money to make three more. We started doing numerous saddle repairs and restorations so we could buy more leather or a saddle tree or two. We slowly grew our company, from a card table and folding chair in the back of my truck, to where it is today. Selling various, fully customized saddles for many disciplines all over the US and the world. The past 20 years have been an amazing journey and I could not have done it without the support of my wife and children. But even our dedication and hard work would not have been enough without the support, loyalty and friendship from our customers. For this we are continually and truly grateful.
At Roohide we will always be committed to quality of product, honesty, sincerity, integrity and friends and family.