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September 2, 2010
This time we take a break from the trail to bid a fond farewell to a pioneer saddle designer and maker who never did anything half-way! My friend Dave DiPietra sends us this touching letter with the passing of his dad, John Paul DiPietra.
My father passed away a couple of weeks ago. It's hard to believe that over twenty years has gone by since he first started toying with the idea of the ultimate endurance saddle. In the eighties, as he was racing more and more, he was having a hard time finding a saddle that fit him and his horse and also had all of the comfort features that he thought were important. Rather quickly, it became a bit of an obsession for him. He had been the owner of a twenty some year old office supply and computer business but as he focused more on designing saddles his attention shifted away from business and he ended up losing his house and closing his business. He then moved into his warehouse and lived on credit cards for a couple of years as his reputation as a saddle maker slowly spread and he started taking orders for saddles.
He lived with such a passion for life and always pushed and tested himself constantly. He loved competition. Earlier in his life he competed in water skiing, quick draw competitions and raced speed boats. In the seventies he got his first horse and discovered endurance racing and spent the next thirty years competing all over the United States. He had over 50 first place finishes and in 1989 he was the National 100 Mile Champion. In 1992, he was Reserve Champion over all weight divisions in AERC sanctioned races. In 1995, at the age of 63, my dad finished 4th out of 250 entrants at the Tevis Cup 100 mile endurance ride. This ride is so tough that, on average, half of the competitors never see the finish line.
My wife and I feel very fortunate to have learned the art of saddle making from my father and to be able to work together to carry on the tradition. We are proud of the fact that what started as my dad's dream of the perfect endurance saddle has turned into a saddle company that can build any type of saddle: English, endurance, cutters, barrel, reiners, trail, ropers or any combination that our customers can dream up. I envision a day when we too will pass this business on to our children. He will be missed. ~Dave at Synergist Saddles, Wyoming.
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