Bill Severe, who was Duff’s brother, worked along side building the saddle tree’s that Duff would eventually cover with leather. With a large band saw and pieces of wood (typically fir because under pressure fir trees give and flex) Bill would carve our a saddle tree that would soon be covered with rawhide.
It was a very specialized trade because it was all done by feeling the wood. No books or cd’s could teach a man how to make a saddle tree. One has to “FEEL” the wood and shape it naturally. Once the saddle tree was hand crafted, it was then covered in rawhide to make it extremely strong and durable. Bill always told owners of a severe saddle that if they ever break one of his trees, he would give them a new saddle.
He also had a scrap piece of rawhide laying around that said, “whosoever breaketh this piece of rawhide with their own 2 hands gets a free saddle.” To this day, many big and burley strong men have come to test the strength of that piece of rawhide and so far no saddles have been given away.
This is what makes a severe saddle so unique and different. Most saddles today are manufactured. If you want a good, high quality saddle, have it handmade. You can see and feel the difference.
Bill Severe was involved heavily in the Pendleton Round-Up where he would take his place along side the cowboys participating in rodeo events. He and his brother Duff were inducted in the Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame in 1992. Bill passed away in 1993 from a heart attack.