This bit features a Las Cruces-style cheek and a half-breed mouthpiece. The large bright cut engraved sterling silver conchos are overlaid onto the French gray finished cheeks. Arne added sculpted metal engraving on the lower portion of each cheek and framed it with a fine silver inlay. The bit is made complete with a split-ear headstall, along with matching silver conchos and buckles made by Arne. The Santa Ynez-style reins and romal, and the braided curb strap were made by Argentine braider Pablo Lozano, a member of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. The popper on the romal was carved by Jeff Minor, Salmon, Idaho.

ARNE ESP, Bitmaker, Hardin, Montana
Arne Esp was raised on a family cattle ranch on the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana, where he still lives. He operates the ranch with his father while working as a part-time silversmith and bitmaker. He has been doing silverwork for more than 20 years and building bits for about eight years. A self-taught silversmith, Arne initially began engraving silver because he “always liked and admired nice silver bits and saddle silver.” He was encouraged by Roman Gillitzer and was inspired by Ernie Marsh’s style of incorporating steel engraving on his bits.

PABLO LOZANO, Rawhide Braider, Argentina

Photos by Jeremiah Watt