Ben is a native Montanan, raised on a horse ranch near Billings MT. Ben and his family reside on the home place today.

From an early age, Ben knew he wanted to build saddles. After building his first saddle at age 14, he later apprenticed as a young man with Buck Bradford. Ben’s first shop was opened in 1982. Swanke Saddlery has been Ben’s full-service, full-time business for over 30 years.

Ben and his wife Pam have raised their three children with a life-long love of horses; riding is their recreation. Swanke saddles are “product-tested” for family and work use through their family’s annual trips to the mountains, helping at neighbors’ brandings, and by Pam’s being a 4-H horse project leader.

Swanke Saddlery has custom-built over 1500 saddles since beginning their business. We also offer a full line of custom order tack.

Working along side of Ben Swanke is K.T. Monson.

K.T. Monson is the son of a Montana cowman and horseman who raised him on ranches in Montana, riding horses and working cattle. K.T. is from a long line of horseman, one of which was his great grandfather who in the early 1900’s sold horses to Ft. Keogh in Miles City, MT for the US Calvary.

K.T. had a driving interest in saddle making from a very young age. At 13, with the help of the expert saddle maker Jim Beeman from Colorado, he made his first 2 saddles. During his high -school years, he spent evenings and weekends working at a tack and boot repair business he established at his fathers ranch.

In 1985 K.T. was introduced to Ben Swanke by horse trainer Tom Curtin. He went to work for Ben for two summers before graduating from high-school. After high-school he moved to Texas and went to work for noted cutting horse trainer Buster Welch. Saddle making was always his love, so after 6 months, he returned to Montana and re-established his position at Swanke Saddlery and has remained with us ever since.


Pictured bottom left: Our son Caleb dragging a calf this spring.


Will James Style Tree

Handmade custom Saddle Trees are a big part of our business! We make the best!!!

Saddle makers who want custom made saddle trees know we build them to be strong and without defects. We use #1 yellow poplar hardwood laminated with birch so that there are no knots or cracks in any of our woodwork.

We make custom saddle trees for many of the top saddle makers including Don Butler, Chas Weldon, Kings Saddlery, Donn Leson Saddles, Three Forks Saddlery, George Michel, Fritz Riedl- Germany, Wes Schenk and Jeff Wade

Call us today and order yours! We have experience making a wide variety of tree styles.


Buying a new saddle won't happen very often in your lifetime so be sure you have the one you want to use for years.....like this one... it's a Wade with beautiful basket and flower carving with round skirts and flat plate rigging. Ben made the oxbow stirrups, overlaid with silver stripes.

219 North 15th Street
Billings, Montana 59101.
Phone 406-259-9227.




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