Eli Miller is a saddle maker and leather worker based out of Kentucky.
He started building saddles about 40 years ago, mostly western, when he lived in western New York.
After moving to Kentucky, he started repairing a lot of old Buena Vista saddles. They are an old time Kentucky based comfort saddle, primarily used on gaited horses.
About 25 years ago he designed his own Buena Vista tree and saddle. Black saddle in second picture below.
Currently he makes 4 models based on 3 trees he has made for him. The Endurance and Old Timer on one tree; Trail on another; and Buena Vista on another. All types except the Trail saddle have a ground suspended seat.
The Eli Miller Saddles are known for their fine detail work, the quality of leather, and the famous suspended ground seat.
The ground suspended seat is common in English and Aussie saddles but not in Western saddles, which is mostly built on a rigid ground seat. When done right, the suspended groud seat – not to be confused with the elevated suspended seat- creates a comfortable cradle effect which helps the rider relax and sit more deeply in the seat.
The wide cantled and unusual looking Buena Vista model allows for even more of a cradle effect thru wider webbing tack points. After having sat in a few Buena Vista saddles, I can say that they are probably the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever sat in.
To make a ground suspended seat, webbing is nailed onto the saddle tree rom the cantle to the pommel in a certain way to create a cradle effect. Then a cordura layer is place over top to smooth out the webbing. Over that a layer of foam, then finally leather is tacked on top. It makes for a very comfortable ride, with some give but without a squishy feeling. It allows for a very settled deep seat, without undue pressure on the seat bones.
Eli and his son Jake build the saddles custom to the client. They also do other custom leather work such as knife and gun holsters, bags, satchels, bridles, breast collars, cruppers – basically anything with leather. Their fine leather work is as detailed and as colorful as the customers imagination.
They are located in south central Kentucky in the small Amish community of Barnett Springs. The best way to get hold of Eli or Jake for leather work or saddle making and repair is by sending a letter to:
Miller’s Custom Saddle 3007 Barnetts Creek Road Columbia, Kentucky 42728.
Or by dropping by for a visit, except for Sundays.
Here is a link to a website that sells Eli Miler saddles. They are located in Corbin, Kentucky. Be sure to check out the gallery.
About Henry and Eli Miller. Henry Miller used to work for Eli when Eli ran a bigger production some years back. Henry makes the same 4 saddle models as Eli, but slightly differently and with different leather. Henry and Eli Miller are related thru marriage but run separate businesses.
Eli’s son Jake will take over Eli’s business after Eli retires. Currently they work hand in hand, the only part of saddle making that is still done primarily by Eli is the suspended seat construction. Custom leather work is done both by father and son.
I visited Eli and Jake Miller in mid December 2017 to have some work done on my endurance saddle.
I wrote a story about the work done on the second saddle, used on my solo horse ride fundraiser from Canada to Guatemala.
Here is the link to this saddle project. https://5000milesofhope.org/orthoflex-eli-miller-custom-travel-saddle/https://5000milesofhope.org/orthoflex-eli-miller-custom-travel-saddle/