Phoenix Rising Saddles Important Update and Announcement

7/20/2020: UPDATE

After a lot of push back from us, our fans, and other leather companies, we believe we are on the right path to come to an agreement to keep the saddle shop, and our support of the overall program, going! We are currently accepting new saddle orders. However, since the coronavirus is making a surge in Colorado, our saddle shop has been closed due to the pandemic for a couple of weeks. We are awaiting word on when we can expect them to reopen safely and start building saddles again. You can place your order for your saddle but we will not charge your credit card for your saddle until it's confirmed it is completed and scheduled to ship. If you order online, submit the payment method as "Check" and we will contact you for payment info. You are always welcome to call and place your order with us over the phone, too!





What Happened

Recently we were tipped off that our saddle shop is closing at the end of August and they will no longer be taking new saddle orders from us. Monday, this was confirmed by the shop. This stopped us cold in our tracks, with no warning. In fact, the way I found out was because someone from outside the saddle shop called and gave me a heads-up. We are not the only saddle company affected, and the effects of this sudden closure are far-reaching for several other small businesses, besides my own. 

About Our Saddle Shop

For those of you who aren't aware, Colorado Correctional Institutes (Cci) runs a highly regarded program where inmates learn a trade while making at least state minimum wage. This helps them support themselves and their families, while gaining valuable work skills to take with them after their stay. One of the programs is a leather and saddlery shop. Cci has many other award-winning and lauded programs such as service dog training, wild horse rescue, dairy farms, fish hatchery, fire fighting, and many more. The leather shop also helps make firefighter and mounted ranger and patrol units' gear for the state of Colorado.

I have always strongly believed in the program and was told by the workers that the saddlery specifically is a favorite and highly sought-after opportunity. We've always been transparent about where our saddles are made and, until recently, felt certain that it was being run with moral and ethical integrity that ultimately helps the inmates along with the taxpayers of Colorado. Otherwise, I would not have participated in the program (they certainly weren't our cheapest option!).

The leather and saddlery program is CCi's flagship program, having been one of the first of its kind and in operation for over 25 years. The craftsmen in the shop take immense pride in their work and hone their craft for years. Those that have been released continue to do the same all over the country. Many will now be made to move to a new facility and will be given other menial job opportunities, if any at all. This has been described as devastating by many within the shop at all levels.

Why is it Closing?

The reason we were told the saddle shop is closing is because it has not been profitable. Information provided to us by someone in the know has strongly called into question this is the true reason.  At this time, I cannot disclose details for which I, and others, have been made aware, but if true, would be alarming at best. It calls into question the financial reasons that were given, and instead points to the possibility of misappropriations of funds, political favors and cronyism from the top down. We are awaiting more concrete information regarding this.

Actions We are Taking

I, along with the other saddle companies' owners, who depend on the saddlery program for our livelihoods, have banded together and pressured the decision-makers from the Governor of Colorado, to the warden, and directors of the Industrial Program and the D.O.C. I held off on making an official announcement until after a conference call on Monday with a top decision maker and other saddle company owners who have been affected. We were hoping to be granted an extension, and were all willing to help in any way we can facilitate the saddlery's long-term sustainability. We strongly question the numbers and reasoning we were given. At this time, I cannot disclose details for which I, and others, have been made aware, but, if true, we believe causes reason to be investigated further. 

Their unfeasible proposed "plan" made it plain to all of us that there was no appetite to keep the saddlery program open, even though it would make huge impacts on many small businesses. 

So, we have had to temporarily suspend all new saddle orders. I am working on finding a saddler or saddle company that will be able to build our saddles. Our standards are high (as are those of our customers and others who have come to know Phoenix Rising Saddles for high quality products and customer care). This will take some time, but have no doubts, we will be back to making saddles in no time.

How You Can Help!

1. Support our Store

We have several saddles in stock, and will still continue to carry our proprietary line of comfort bits, in-stock saddles, pads, Ride n Tie Halter Bridles, and Breathe Easy Cinches (all hand-made in the USA). We appreciate your continued support of our business by purchasing and sharing our products with those you know who may love them as much as you do. We have loyal fans and supporters and I have no doubt you will help us weather the storm while we figure out our best next steps!


2. Sign Our Petition

We made a petition to send to all the decision-makers at the highest levels to keep the saddlery's doors open. Please show us your support by CLICKING HERE TO SIGN!

3. Share

If you feel you would like to help spread the word, please share this page with your friends. 

4. Please CONTACT me if you know of any independent saddlers or saddle shops that might be able to assist with future saddle production. I am curious as to who used to build the saddles for Dixieland before they closed. Please pass along the info of that maker if you happen to know.

In the whole scheme of things this is a bump in the road, but we will prevail. Thank you all for your help and support! 

Jamie Evan

Owner, Phoenix Rising Saddles