Fred Pokrinchak does not just make saddles, he lives, eats and dreams saddles. Fred’s odyssey in the saddle making business started soon after he had spent several thousand dollars in an unsuccessful attempt at trying to find a saddle that would fit his wife’s horse. First, he had ordered a hand-made saddle, that while gorgeous, simply did not fit the horse. Then he purchased a second saddle that was touted as the best on the market. This one didn’t fit any better than the first one. Frustrated, Fred decided that if he could not find a saddle that would fit properly, he would try to make one that did.
Over the years, Fred had developed superior leather working skills, making leather belts, hats and other items for friends and family. Being quite gifted in leather making, Fred began his foray into saddle building in earnest. He started by reading and studying everything he could get his hands on about saddle making. Some books made it sound virtually impossible, while others made it seem relatively simple. With the ultimate goal of creating the best saddle fitting system available, Fred plunged ahead in earnest.
Before even attempting to build his first saddle, Fred researched the business from top to bottom, with a stubborn conviction to acquire all the information that was available about the art of saddle building. He enrolled in seminar after seminar, travelling to Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Missouri, Montana and Texas. He made a point to participate in workshops conducted by two of the finest Western master saddle makers in the country, Bill Gomer and Harry Adams Jr. After an exhausting training program Fred finally felt ready to build his first saddle, which he made for his wife. While not perfect, the saddle fit wonderfully! Thrilled by the results of his first effort, he built a saddle for himself. A friend soon noticed the gorgeous new saddles Fred and his wife were riding on and proceeded to place an order, followed by one for his wife as well. And so, the business was born.
Fred had realized that to be truly functional and comfortable, a saddle should not be limited to fit just the horse, but should provide comfort for the rider as well. While working on perfecting the fitting system he had in mind, Fred worked on many different types of saddle trees in order to evaluate their strengths and drawbacks. He then redesigned certain of the trees, resulting in vastly improved fits to the horse. For awhile he was making saddles under the OrthoflexT trademark, but even this system was limited by not being able to provide the exacting standards of fit and comfort that Fred insisted on supplying to his clients. Working diligently to perfect his craft, Fred personally developed and carefully engineered the CustomFlex panel system to meet his stringent standards of fit and finish.
No sooner having learned how to create superior fitting Western saddles, Fred was besieged by requests to build English saddles that were equal in comfort to his popular Western styles. Recognizing a void in the market for great fitting English saddles, Fred realized that he had to develop expertise in a whole new area, so he sought out the best possible training for English saddle making and repair. His research led to Malan Goddard, a master saddle maker from England, from whom he learned the time honored techniques of making traditional English saddles. Once familier with the craft, Fred improved upon it by applying the essentials of his Custom Flex fitting system to the production of English saddles.