This innovative approach to a Santa Barbara-style cheek incorporates an oval central motif rather than the traditional circle. The 3-inch tall Spanish spade mouth and copper wire wrapped braces sit amidst the ornate silver engraving and gun-blued cheeks, which have been striped in fine silver. The 5/8-inch double and stitched headstall, as well as the popper on the romal, were made by Bob Burns. The bridle silver was made and engraved by Gene Klein. The reins and romal, braided by Leland Hensley, incorporates a 12-plait rein body and a 16-plait romal body.

GENE KLEIN, Bitmaker, Miami, New Mexico
In 1976 Gene Klein went to work as a forester for the Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico and started working as a game guide. It was there that Gene developed an appreciation for the handmade gear held in high regard by the local cowboys, and he began building a few bits and spurs in the ranch workshop. When Gene left Vermejo in 1984, he took work as a cowboy and thus crossed paths with master saddlemaker and silversmith Jeremiah Watt, who encouraged Gene to pursue his craft. Since 1988 Gene has had his own custom silver shop in Miami.

LELAND HENSLEY, Rawhide Braider, Meridian, Texas

BOB BURNS, Headstall Maker, Clayton, New Mexico

Photos by Adam Jahiel