Saddle up: Rancher’s collection displayed in museum, preserves state’s western history

Local News

SIMLA, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado rancher’s saddle collection has slowly turned into a museum that has preserved a slice of the state’s western history.

Grown almost literally from the eastern Colorado plains, sits the Bailey Saddleland Museum. On display are over 400 saddles from the United States and around the world.

The museum is as authentic as Don Bailey himself, a full-time rancher for 38 years. Bailey was also a full-time high school teacher. He says he had to make ends meet.

Bailey loves saddles, from the first one he sat on at 4 years old to now, where he and wife Janet lovingly curate each and every one of them.

“I started collecting saddles in my mind before I actually bought any of them,” Bailey said.

In 1991, Bailey started to show his ever growing collection to friends, family, anybody who was interested.

”I really enjoy the hunt and chase, like trying to find an Isaac Cherry saddle out of Durango,“ Bailey said.

Saddles from Africa, Native American Indians, even one from the German Army during World War II. If it was on a horse, Bailey is interested.

Bailey is hoping others are interested, too. And the price is right, admission is free.

“I was always embarrassed to think, I didn’t want to take money that way,” Bailey said.

Bailey is still a full-time Colorado rancher, and now a full-time curator. But his all time favorite saddle? It is whichever one he is sitting on at the time.

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