About Us and Our Products
All our products are designed and tested on our own horses… then used every time we ride.
LittleJoe Handmade Horse Gear began about 20 years ago with the design of our signature bareback saddle. Bareback riding is fantastic, but sometimes it’s nice to have the extra security of stirrups, and sometimes it’s nice to avoid the dirt and sweat while still keeping in close contact with the horse. All the bareback pads we tried had a tendency to slip when stirrups were added, so my friend Mary Morgan and I began working on a design that would make a more stable bareback pad. The result, after a lot of attempts and changes, was the LittleJoe bareback saddle. At first we just used it ourselves, but after several friends asked us to make saddles for them we decided there was a market for what we had developed. We named the company after my 14-hand Nevada mustang, Joe.
At the same time, we started braiding mountain climbing accessory cord to make strong, colorful and low-maintenance halters and lead ropes and, eventually, headstalls and bridles. As with the bareback saddle, we spent a long time trying and improving the products ourselves before we were ready to sell them. As the years went by, we used our own products constantly and received many interesting suggestions from customers! New ideas often led to improvements and design changes, a process that still continues today.
Unfortunately, Mary was living with multiple sclerosis, and eventually the LittleJoe work took more time and energy than she could spare. Although she stayed on in an advisory capacity, I took over the day-to-day work, and it’s been that way to the present day.
In 2016 I was able to move to our present location, a 57-acre property north of Lawrence, KS. There is a huge pasture for the horses, a big garden, a separate building for the shop, and everything else I need. Joe is getting older, but is gloriously healthy and has the run of the place!
LittleJoe has been through some changes, but the core of what we have to offer has not changed one bit since the beginning. We make, well-designed, hand-made, long-lasting products at reasonable prices, all of them designed and built to enhance comfort and communication between horses and riders. We sell only what we make ourselves, and our products are offered along with the customer service that only comes with a small company. These are the principles we started with, and they will never change.
Because of our emphasis on innovation, we are always open to suggestions, new ideas, and special requests. Having a problem with your current tack? Please write to us! And of course we love to know about how our gear is being used, and to hear the stories of the riders and horses who use it.
Above all, we’re here to help you reach that best of equestrian experiences: the sheer joy of riding.