Week 5 of 10 Giveaways: Here is a little background on what I am up to.......I have decided to do something special in preparation for Christmas. I know.....don't freak out, but Christmas is only 82 days away (yes, that's right)! I am always looking for just the right gift. I absolutely love giving custom, one-of-a-kind, USA hand-crafted items. Once I find something awesome, I love to share my new discovery with my friends. So, what better place to do that then right here!
I give you.......The Native Cowgirl's 10 Best Custom USA-Made Christmas Presents List!!! I would personally love to receive any of these under the tree. I bet you would also....or you know somebody who would too!
Here goes with my list:
1. September 2nd - 11th - Sharp’s Saddlery Custom Canteens & Giveaway - Winner: Roxanne Young from Georgia!
2. September 12th - 18th - Rough & Rowdy Designs Custom Bling Cap Giveaway - Winner: Lee Murray from Arizona!
3. September 19th - 25th - Beck Custom Boots & Giveaway - Winner: Lana Murnion from Montana!
4. September 26 - October 2nd - Kim Klass Bucking Horse/Believe Pendant & Chain - Winner: Sunnie Iacovetta from Colorado!
5. October 3rd - October 9th - Tom Balding Bit Giveaway!
6. Announced on my October 10th Blog & Giveaway!
7. Announced on my October 17th Blog & Giveaway!
8. Announced on my October 24th Blog & Giveaway!
9. Announced on my October 31st Blog & Giveaway!
10. Announced on my November 7th Blog & Giveaway!
Shane and I had the pleasure of meeting Tom Balding a little over 10 years ago. We had just gotten married in Montana on Shane's family's ranch. We were headed back home to South Dakota and we were playing tourist so we decided to stop in Sheridan, Wyoming to visit some of the must-see places. Tom Balding Bits & Spurs was on our list. When we arrived we realized that we had gotten there after closing time. We were disappointed to say the least, but as we walked back to our pickup a gentleman appeared and asked us if we stopped to look around. We said, "Yes" and we explained how we had never been inside and that it was our wedding weekend. The gentleman told us to come with him. This began a tour of the facilities and getting to see how the magic happens at Tom Balding Bits & Spurs. That gentleman turned out to be Tom Balding himself!! Talk about being bowled over. Still to this day that chance meeting is set in my mind. A person doesn't forget things like that. I couldn't believe how humble he was and how it was important to him that we weren't sent away disappointed. Right then and there I became a huge fan of Tom Balding and all of his work. Shane had loved his creations for some time, but I was new to them. I have never forgotten that act of kindness and I smile as I think back about that day over 10 years ago. Little things are big thing in my opinion!
September 15th, 2016 we got a chance to go back and visit Tom again. This time we made arrangements ahead of time. I had asked if he wanted to partake in our giveaway and he never even hesitated. In fact, he called me personally on the phone to discuss it. See.....little things! :)
I learned quite a bit about Tom the day of our visit. I found out as a child he loved working on model cars. He was quite a perfectionist with them too. After growing up, he became a tig welder who worked on just about anything, including sail boats and race cars! In 1980 he drove through Sheridan, Wyoming and decided that he wanted to live there. Tom moved here from California. He was asked by a woman to fix a bit. He fixed it and this is when he decided to make his first one (our of scrap sailboat parts at that)! Tom has built a successful business over the past 35 years. He is very honed in on the fact that bits needs to be perfectly symmetrical and balanced. I learned while visiting with him that the S shape of his bits in fact date back to the Calvary times. I found that very interesting. He also informed us that there are three points to all of his bits. Geometry plays a bit part in all of his creations. We spent almost two hours that day visiting and learning. I think we could have stayed all day!
Here are some pictures of our tour. Tom Balding's gift shop is inviting and full of neat things!
We ventured down the hallway and saw his wall of Trial Bits. Did you know that you can try these bits out before you by them? Each is sanitized before and after use. I find this fascinating and a sure sign that Tom is proud of what he does and he wants whichever bit(s) you choose to work for you and especially your horse.
We continued on. I love this wall of notes. Most are Thank You's or comments from students who get to come here and tour the Tom Balding Bits & Spurs facility.
Right outside the Assembly Room I stood mesmerized. Look at how many individual pieces each bit and spur has!
Tom gives such a detailed tour. It shines through how passionate he is about what he creates!
Check out these tiny little pieces for personalizing bits or spurs:
Next we went to the back where the bigger tools and machines are. It's mind-boggling to me to see that those long straight pieces are eventually made into bits and spurs!
Tom was showing Shane a piece of one of his bits.
Tom has several skilled craftsman who work here daily.
This machine was one of the most fascinating to me. It helps to bend these pieces of steel just so to create many different pieces for bits.
Steel balls and other pieces are put in bins until they are ready to be used.
We enjoyed seeing the Polishing Room and seeing how the final steps are done.
In his office, Tom showed us the very first bit he ever created! He also showed us some of the bits used by accomplished horseman all over the world.
Tom exudes passion about his products. You can tell that he loves what he does and every single item that leaves his shop is built to perfection.
Our last place to check out was the packaging room. This is where everything has a final inspection and is packaged up to be sent out.
We got a picture before we left!
We truly had an amazing visit with Tom and his staff. We felt right at home and we came away with a greater understanding of what goes on behind the scenes at Tom Balding Bits & Spurs. I left something out earlier. When we got to Tom's office there was a small box gift wrapped on his desk. He said something to me a couple of time, but I didn't catch on (truly I was engrossed in all the memorabilia in his office). Shane finally got my attention and I realized that Tom was telling me to open the box. WHAT?! Oh my gosh, a gift?! I open the box and was absolutely stunned! Tom had made me an absolutely beautiful keychain with my initials on it! I was at a loss for words and even got a bit teary-eyed. What an unexpected, generous thing that he did. Here is my surprise:
I have to say that I went to Tom Balding Bits & Spurs to learn more about what Tom does, but we all came away that day with so much more. It is my pleasure to call Tom a friend! We discussed much that day and I look forward to my family spending more time around him in the future!
I hope after reading this that you appreciate the kind of work that goes into Tom's creations, whether it be a bit or a pair of spurs (or even keychain). We have quite a few of his bits hanging in our tack room and they are truly our go-to bits. Shane and I both love our custom spurs from Tom as well. Stone will be getting a pair, but not until he quits growing like a bad weed. We are definitely fans of Tom Balding and I hope you are as well. There really isn't anything that Tom can't do so if you want something custom make sure to give him a holler and tell him I sent you!
Tom Balding Bits & Spurs - www.tombalding.com - (307)672-8459
LIKE their page on Facebook also: Tom Balding Bits & Spurs
Here are a few other items we personally own of from Tom Balding:
These were a 10 year wedding anniversary gift to Shane from me for his spurs. These custom conchos and buckles were perfect to add to his custom spur straps!
I love this custom zipper pull that Tom made for my WRRA World Finals - Year End Champion leather jacket!
Shane surprised me early with a pair of custom spurs from Tom for our 10 year wedding anniversary. These spurs are incredible and I love them!
Entries close at 9 pm MST on Sunday, October 9th. Don't miss out on this amazing opportunity to win one of Tom Balding's masterpieces! Look for this picture on my page and get entered!