HILL VIEW FARMS ®LLC
"Proven Products for Horse and Rider"

Our Journey

Follow along with us at Hill View Farms ® LLC as we lay out before you the path we have taken.
"This quest is for all of those horses who have touched my life.  I thank you so very, very much... and for my husband – for without his unwavering support none of this would ever be possible." ~ Cathy.

Saddles System Description Saddling videos Saddling Basics Saddle History Return to index

A photo journal documenting facts.  Trust and have courage to ask the tough questions to uncover the truth. And above all else be true to yourself - follow your passions.

Call for questions or to place an order: 507-723-5937  Toll Free in US: 866-723-5937

The Evolution of Evolutionary Saddles TM    and the growth of Hill View Farms

"We thank all of our patrons for allowing us to continue to provide only the the best for you and your horse.  It is an honor and a privilege."

~ Don and Cathy Tauer

"Companies that produce quality products, support home grown industries, market fairly, provide superior customer service, adapt with the times, committed and have strong product knowledge - from start to finish, will succeed!"

The Year 2017

   Don and Cathy been running for quite sometime now and it's time to ease up on the reins.   The head-on 80 mile per hour head on collision in fall of 2015 took a toll on the entire Tauer family.  The accident left both Don and Cathy permanently disabled in varying degrees. 

     They will continue to keep up the pace and service all of their treasured customers.  However, they have actively backed off on mass media promotions and trade shows, along with many store items that now can be purchase on line from huge retail equine outlets. 

   Most of the year Cathy will be working in South Dakota, at Tauering Pines (an equine / vacation retreat).  Where as Don will be in Minnesota, farming, filling orders and working on saddles.  By splitting their time,  it allows them to work more efficiently.  Cathy will be making trips back and forth to Minnesota sewing, making custom items and stocking up on disparately needed inventory.

   Hill View Farms welcomes you to take a road trip to visit TaueringPines.com and as a THANK YOU for your many years of patronage you will receive 15% off on your camping fees.

 

2016 Presents it self with new physical challenges  After 9 years, Daniel and Lynn,  our business partners and pen pals though the internet (due to importing goods for Hill View Farms to sell such as: the Oven Glove and Flow through water Brushes), our Friends, Daniel and Lynn finally got the visa's and paperwork to visit the USA!   What a thrill it was to show them our life style.  They even helped us in our shop.  Daniel and Lynn learned how to machine cut leather, edging, burnishing, burning strings, edge painting, waxing and how to put on leathers.  We are we ARE, so BLESSED to have been born or to be in this country.  DO NOT LET anyone take our country from us.  WE MUST remain true to our constitution.  Daniel and Lynn were here for a week.  We learned so much and realized that we knew MORE about Chinese history than they did, as so much history is suppressed.  THANK GOD for the internet. The internet makes our world, ONE world and the people in it, our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.  It is stupid religions and stupid governments with greedy people who mess things up.   Thank GOD in America, we can state to whom we believe and not be locked up or killed for our beliefs.  Please let us keep our freedoms and keep our country great for those freedoms.

Daniel and Lynn are both completely fluent in English.  They went to College for business and taught themselves English.  They run a great American based internet business using of all things,  American workers!  We now are in the developing stages of a tourist program where we can host new guests and share our beautiful countries with each other.  Daniel and Lynn will be in Custer, SD next June for a Day in a Life of the Custer Cutoff.  We look forward to seeing our new "children" next year.

Life is a glorious journey.  Just like a great book, I look forward to each new chapter.

Items that Cathy personally sews / makes as well as,  custom design work for all aspects of personal living and recreational endeavors.
Garment bag, Segway covers, custom clothing of all types, bed spreads, curtains, chair covers, upholstering, barn and home design, Marco-weavings, Duffel picket line bag, Hip bags, Saddle Dust cover, Seat Cushion, Kangaroo feed bag, Boot warmers, Polar fleece cap, Deluxe fleece cap, Blocking, Converter for western to English, Easy girth converter, Neoprene girth, Leather contoured girth, Rear flank cinch, Cinch ring cover, Britching, Neo crupper, Two strap neo crupper, English billets, Slip on fenders, Fenders, Hoof pick / knife holder, Western off billet, Western latigo, Pail holder, Picket lead/cross tie, Wrist swap, Tree hugger, Easy bridle, Halter bridle, Riding swap, Rope halter, Ride and tie, Loop reins, Split reins, Saddle soxs - all kinds, Saddle pad, Corrective saddle pad, Saddle shims, Reflective wraps, Biothane leathers, Leather covered stirrups, English leathers, Stirrups pads, Easy tapadaros, Seat shrinker, Ware flaps, Encasements, Rigging, Rear billets, English hanger bars.
AND NOW you know WHY I have to stop selling other stuff - that is found on line that I do not make.  I am just TOO BUSY. 

 2015:  The next chapter in our lives.

After starting our business in 1996 and dedicating ourselves to providing only the best for horse and rider with proven products,  a new direction is needed.  

Our children are now adults.  They are loyal, happy, independent and trust worthy. This leaves me with decades of work and inventory, but no additional time to breed, raise and train my horses.  I need to down size, become streamlined with a manageable workload.  It is now Don and myself with a couple of people that I outsource work to.   

Therefore  A NEW MARKETING direction is needed.  To best serve my customers I am streamlining my business, making an easy load for a 60 year old woman to handle.  As the saddles started my business, they will once again be my primary focus.  

I will be getting back to our roots; I will sell items that we have developed and manufacture ourselves. It will be seasonal.  I will be providing product based on a market driven need and priced accordingly.  I will be designing/sewing/manufacturing saddles and tack in Minnesota during the winter season and riding, training and living with my horses for 8 months in the hills of South Dakota.  During that time we will be able to fill orders, but I will not be available for custom projects.  

This three year process has already started as those of you who have been loyal "Catabook" readers have noticed.  Gone are the Catabooks and many on-line pages.  This chapter is coming to an end and a new one beginning. 

09/16/15   our lives forever changed.  A new normal  for Don and the sense of urgency for diversity and opportunities are in the forefront.  It is hard for a farmer to farm using a cane.   Don and I both struggle with this.   But we must always remember, as one door closes a window opens.

 

 

The year 2014 - 2013

Met with the continued challenges of increased government entitlements and red tape, Hill View Farms will never be able to compete with the state affording employees.  Don and Cathy keep themselves busy every minute of every day and in this order:  Family, Horses (farming when in season) and Saddles.  With this being said, and committed to holding to a three month wait period for custom saddles ordered,  they adjusted pricing to fall closer in line with the main stream of custom made saddles.  They also have partnered up with other manufactures for smoother operations thus staying focused enabling them to continue providing top-quality performing products.
As for the girls,  Rhea graduated college a year back and is a sales rep for a national western supply  company, Kelly is in University for pharmacy and Sonia at college for business.  They all join the family at the Minnesota Horse expo in April and help in the shop when they come home.

To left and below Don is building an Officer saddle.  To the  right Cathy makes a breast collar.

For the past 17 years Don and Cathy have developed and promoted various "proven products for horse and rider".  This was a monumental task.  Both of them are well into their mid 50's,  and have decided that it is time to scale back.  Hill View Farms is getting Back to Basic's.   Thus they will be selling only those products which they developed or helped to develop and either make themselves or have manufactured for Hill View Farms.  These are the products that are truly a one-of-a-kind within the equine industry.   This move will allow Cathy more time to follow her passion (riding) and for Don to catch up on all those projects he had set aside for years, in order to assist Cathy in the business.  The timing of this decision could not be any more perfect, as many manufactures do not need the "brick and mortar" store fronts anymore to sell their products. The internet allows them to market directly to the consumer allowing them greater margins.  Selling direct via the internet and shipping through distribution centers, is the way of the future (or at least how we are seeing it first hand).  What perfect timing, as our situation of change fell perfectly into place. 

For 2012:  Time moves on. 
 
With out new location, space is at a premium,  so much of what was carried is a thing of the past.  Scaling back takes as much work as growing. 

As business grows and with space and time is limited,  Don and Cathy have to step back and put things into prospective. They said  good bye to competing with the state for entitled employees (where they had to pay 2 x minimum wage to off set free benefits offered by the state)  which streamlined the business.  They then focused on what would make the most difference to the customers, the Saddles!  To help with production of new saddles they have engaged the assistance of two other saddle builders, Mike and Art who, with the  provided parts, assemble  the chassis of the saddle.  The saddle is then returned where it is put into final inspection by having the panels and accessories put on to complete the order.  This new arrangement has allowed for Don to have more time to farm and other pleasures as it takes a lot of stress off of us all. 

Hill View Farms has stopped all national and local advertising, as the business could barley keep a timely production with the orders now, as word of mouth and the internet keep them working over time. Don and Cathy needed to put their family and health in perspective.  Hill View Farms makes between 50-100 saddles a year as they are dedicated in helping one horse and rider at a time.  They have an incredible product and have placed all of  the saddles production details on line in order to assist anyone else who to would like to make a difference in the equine industry as well.  Cathy and Don know by sharing their knowledge is the logical step.  The industry need folks who want to make a difference for the well being of the horse.

Don... grinding out a custom seat for another saddle.Absolutely no rest for the weary. 

The YEAR 2011

We welcome our new Shop and Store Manager Denny Wersal and his wife Barb is now our head seamstress and shop/store representative. 

 

The ripple effect.....With the shocking news that the Brenderup Real Horse Trailers pulled out of the US market in January 2011, left us and thousands of customers speechless.  What this has meant to us,  is that it left us with a 6,000 square foot building (that was purchased in part for horse trailer storage) empty.  Not only empty,  but with a hefty mortgage for the store to carry alone.  So back to the roots of our operation we go.  Our old location was great so back to the farm we went where we continue operations.  Since we had expanded we had to add on to our old building for additional inventory storage. Plus build a new 32 by 48 building for the Saddle  Manufacturing and expanded store front. Below is the storage addition that was added onto the existing location.

     
The location for the additional building is next to the old show room, in the area that was once parking.  The assault was torn up, ground leveled, drainage trenched in, holes dug for poles, fill brought in, footings secure, ground leveled with wire and with the aid of a pump truck the concrete poured and leveled. 
 

 


Don was busy either doing the work or helping getting it done....as Cathy works in town getting items packing up and moved. The upstairs is all but cleared out.  Before and after. The horse fitting area empty.
    Before and after
Show room once full...before... and now is clean and empty. Once so full is now spick and span, ready for the new owners.

 .
A construction company bought our old store/location- sold in less than 24 hours from word of mouth and a yard sign. Gotta love small towns.  Back at the farm...
 
Rafters and Roofing with inside ceiling tin and wall insulation, followed by wall tin and next the wiring with lights.

Moving in begins and the installation of the overhead door. The rear of the building gets finished.
 
The old semi box is where we use to stored inventory, and which we will continue to use.  We have framed up the front façade to blend in with our first location.  We have now have it sheathed and are putting cedar siding on to match the other.
 
We have cleared out the sewing room in the rear and cleaned out the main part of the building... WE ARE MOVED OUT! Completed in less than 60 days with vertically no help.  As my dear, dear friend Jones father said to her as they were picking up wheat by hand, making shocks in a 60 acre field,  " Child, do not look at the task ahead of you but look back to see what you have accomplished".  Those are words to work by.... which I sing... "one day at a time..."

The siding and staining is done.  What a wonderful delight.  We are settled in, just in time for out of town customers.  Now to gather up the sign from the old building and put it up.  Waiting for a warm day!

 Below is the back of the shop... the saddle and tack making area.
 

2010: The shop continues to grow with pride, with the continued support of patrons to whom we are very grateful for.

   

    .

 So plan a visit, stay a while, take a tour or just sit down and relax with tasty beverage.

Above: Don (owner - janitor/custodian and maintenance man (also farmer)- best husband and dad in the world - in Cathy's and the children eyes). From left to right:  John, David (shop mgr./master builder) Anahi (saddle sox queen) and Kayla (both are seamstresses)    

Below is Cathy - (aka. S.C. Supreme Commander – as she is loving called by her husband Don). Cathy performs all the rigorous tasks of running several businesses.  This includes: marketing, design, employee and business management, sewing, product construction, printed materials, advertising, purchasing, accounting, merchandizing, legal, finical and government paperwork – (along with being – a great wife and mother), she spends continuous and tireless hours in the, office - computer, in the field and in the saddle testing products – (both ready made and those conceived of in her dreams).  Cathy rides, trains/consults, loves to cook and travels around the country and beyond. (Photo taken at: Vasquez Rocks County Park, Agua Dulce, CA - 2010)

A new employee - a lifer for sure.  A wonderful seamstress named Barb.  We all LOVE her and she now is the queen of saddle sox and helps with other items as time allows. Anahi is 100% on strap goods - oh yhea!

       

The saddles continue to evolve with our slide and lock rigging with the hang straight rigging ring and rigging flap, oil impregnated bronze washers and our CNC dura-coated trees.  

Living up to the name "Evolutionary Saddles"

2009 Growth continues despite trying economic times. 

What we have learned about business is: Companies that produce quality products, support home grown industries, market fairly, provide superior customer service and have strong product knowledge - from start to finish, will succeed! DAY 1

Remolding is under way for the retail store.  As we have production in place, it is time to work on making the retail shopping pleasing for the walk in customer.  Out go the walls and ceiling and clean-up begins for the next stage of re-modeling - flooring. (Patti and Don with views north and south in the 15x 60 feet of retail area)
       
bathroom in the cente r- Acid stain on floor, next comes the barbwire border trim appliqué and epoxy finish, then ceiling, wall work, doors, cabinetry....etc... The horrid job of spraying the ceiling  
Patti our employee is not sewing now, but learning to wall paper. 


South and North views of our 15 x 60 sq foot retail store area. You can see the bathroom area behind Patti that has to be completed. Cathy got her desk moved in and is operational in the store.
Don took out the old  shop single steel door and is making a 6 foot wide double French door opening so that large display racks can be moved in.  All the electrical is now up to code and working! 


Things are coming together, the bathroom and customer/employee kitchenette are looking good. 
 
So far, from day one we are 18 days in the making.

Next we start on trimming.  All of our materials were salvage and reclaimed/recycled product.  All appliances, lights, from ceiling to floor was done on a strict budget.  A lot of long hours and hard work.

   

The hardest job for Don was installing the French Doors, that cost only $47.00 each.   But it took many measurements and loads of patience, but boy oh boy does it look SWEET!

 

And how about that kitchen trim? A piece of cake after those doors!  Then comes the detailing - moving in and finishing work. 

 

Then comes Decorating!  

See the wall hangings?  When Cathy was in college she had her own business then called MacroWeavings.  She did wall hangings and sold them via shows, stores and galleries.  Well they are back.  She knew that some day she would come to find a nice display area for them!  And yes they are for sale and she takes commission orders.

A lovely bathroom/dressing room with a full length mirror. 

Taking down the old signs and putting up the new.  With one of our employees checking on us from time to time.

       

So when you are in the neighborhood and driving by and see this building - swing on in!   As we built this all just for you!

When you step into the doors you will find product waiting to see you and then head straight back to the kitchen and join us for lunch or coffee.

Turn by the wagon, and you will see you have LOADS of maneuvering room and parking for your pleasure.

 Park by the Cart and come on in.

Go Through the French Doors or walk on back to the rear door.  Or just mill around the building - We are busy making all those WONDERFUL saddles and tack.

Don, The true Master builder! Remolding job done in 37 days for less than $5000.00.  Complete building/manufacturing plant and business plan completed in 15 months, ONE YEAR ahead of schedule.

You can also visit Hill View Farms yearly at the Minnesota Horse Exposition third week in April located at the fair grounds in St. Paul.  Visit the Tauer family, employees and the many merry members of our sales team.

Thanks to the incredible performance of the Evolutionary Saddle we hired another saddle builder.  We were so blessed when Dave happened through our doors - (thanks to his father-in-law who was a boot maker in Texas - who encouraged him to fill out a job application).  Dave totally rocks and we all adore him.


We also are able to get some great part timers employed.  Anahi, Kayla, John, and -with new students along the way.
   

The quest to continually better our product and understanding the word EVOLUTIONARY SADDLES our very diligent search for perfection led us to The Precision Saddle Tree Company. 

Using modern technology not previously employed by the saddle tree industry, Precision Saddle Tree Manufacturing is able to deliver quality and uniform trees. They use only the best material. Tradition is disregarded when these superior, modern materials are available. Precisely engineered designs and hands-on production ensure quality saddle trees that last a lifetime. Precision Saddle Tree Company uses Three-Dimensional Scanners and Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to engineer parts that are cut on Computer Number Controlled (CNC) Machines. This equipment allows parts to be produced that are precisely the same each and every time. The right bar is a mirror image of the left bar. The right side of the swell is identical to the left side. This unmatched precision allows the tree parts fit perfectly together (i.e. without the use of fillers), providing greater strength and the highest level of consistency in the industry. Once these precision parts are cut, a jig is created for each tree style. These parts are then assembled in this jig to deliver the same precision to which the parts were cut.  The saddle trees are made with Ponderosa Pine followed by a fiber glass strainer or ground seat and then two different type tree coverings are applied. The first covering consists of hand-laid fiberglass that is wrapped on the horn, swell, bars and cantle and topped with a clear coat resin.  The second covering is made using a product called DURAhide™, which is sprayed over the fiberglass. In conclusion, Precision Saddle Tree Company is a stable company who is able to offer the best saddletree in today’s industry and that carries a lifetime warrantee.

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2008 was a new beginning for Hill View Farms ® LLC.  Located just 8.5 miles from the farm, Hill View Farms ® LLC is manufacturing saddles and tack in their new 6,000 plus square foot building located on an 1.5 acres of land west of Springfield. MN.    This new facility provides an expanded retail store, a huge show room for the Brendup Horse trailers, a manufacturing/assembly room where saddles and tack are being made, an enormous amount of storage space for inventory along with a shipping and receiving area. A state-of-the-art fitting room for horses with stalls and flooring.  An outdoor wash station for trailers and horses and an outdoor riding arena.  The Springfield airport is located just a mile away and Springfield has a beautiful hotel which includes an indoor swimming pool, for those who wish to fly in for personal consultations.  During the riding season, feel free to join us on the trail camping, as we can provide you with a mount to suit your needs.  It is for the LOVE of the horse and the passion of making things wonderful between horse and rider that drive our vision in providing only the best for the one you love. 

Inside the first of three bays, the one shown is the smallest and the wall with doors, enters into a break, storage and rest room, that within two years will be remodeled. 

The center area of the building is the trailer show room, shipping and receiving with additional work area for saddle production. Located in the back of this area is a large door way that leads into last section of the building 48 x 30, that has its own over head door, that will be split into two areas and finished out into two rooms.  One, a saddle assembly room and the other an area for customer fittings with two comfy stalls.

2007 Times change.  Cindy and her husband Harold no longer wanted to be contract builders, but wanted to do what they wanted, make products how they wanted and use the materials they wanted. Basically that was it in a nutshell.

It was after all this that Cathy and Don realized; just how many more companies do they need to get started just to be used until the companies got what they wanted or mismanaged the profits they made.  It seemed that with these companies, it is only about the money. How much can be made and how fast seemed to be the rule not the exception.

 Don told Cathy to concentrate on selling the other products she developed and forget about the saddles.  But for Cathy this was not an acceptable answer. What about the HORSE?  Who will care about the HORSE?  Does anyone CARE?  It was because of Bill, Rhya, Tito and many thousand of countless horses that do not have a voice that Cathy owes this new Evolutionary Saddle to.  It was the SADDLE that made the company Hill View Farms® LLC a registered trade marked name, a name that is known as "The company who puts the horse first" and does things based on principle and not what the product can do financially for the company, but what the product can do for the horse.

     It was during this time that Don did what no man in his right mind would do, and he said,  "to do things right you must do it yourself".  And making saddles is exactly what Don had in mind. 

 Don said, "I will give you two years of my life to get this project off the ground". And Don got to work. The very next day Don started straight out to look for a proper place to begin production and picked out a building with the location that he liked and bought it.  A building mind you that was not even on the market!  But it was the right building in the right location and so in less than 30 days the ink was dry on the paper.  That is how things get done right the first time.  Don now, gets up before dawn and works well after dark, rain or shine, cold or hot, helping to make Cathy's vision a reality.   Cathy meanwhile began her search for contract builders, to help with the set up work for the saddles.  After touring 7 different saddle manufactures, picking their brains, she selected those individuals who shared her passion.  But this time it is different. All those little things that Cathy wanted to have fixed have been fixed.  All those little details that other builders’ thought would not matter DO MATTER.  Hill View Farms ® LLC is in the drivers seat and Cathy is on a mission.
And shoot, it is not like they do not have any experience working with this type of thing – building and repairing panel saddles.  For during the past years of 1996 to 2007, which is 12 years of dealing with and trying to get saddle companies to do what needed to be done has been a roller coaster ride at best. The knowledge Don and Cathy gained by dealing with the mix of good, poor and horrible saddle assemblers has given them a lifetime of knowledge. Those years of repairing and fixing what the others could not, has paved the path for this adventure.  The biggest challenge Hill View Farms â has always had in the past, was finding a saddle assembler that would build to their specifications using the materials specified.  Based on what Don and Cathy have accomplished on both a personal and profession level, they are so thrilled that they can have their production house under one roof.  At last, they are in charge of quality control. All those details that were consciously overlooked or deemed unimportant, using inferior materials by shoddy builders are a thing of the past. Hill View Farms â can not be more excited and proud, for it is here at Hill View Farms â LLC that you will find the best quality functional saddle, so great in fact that it carries a 30-day money back, horse and rider satisfaction guarantee.


From Remodeling to Learning... that never ends.....November and December 2007.  After the crops are harvested, Don gets to work learning the skills needed to start a saddle company.  Tauer Manufacturing LLC, with Don the President.

Cathy and Don hit the road and travel south.  They learn the skills, machinery and techniques needed for production from Master builders.   Cathy and Don know first hand the work and effort it takes to make a product that will carry the Hill View Farms ® LLC  name.

Don and Cathy cannot thank or express their gratitude enough to these incredible persons in taking time to share with them so freely their priceless knowledge. "We hope to make you all VERY proud".
 

In business since 1919, the Veach family is the oldest family owned saddlery in the United States.  Shown right are Don, Peggy, Robert and Craig who taught Hill View Farms ® both classic and modern saddle building. From the Veach Family, Don and Cathy traveled further south to meet up with three of the Best;  Earl, Clint, and Art who's combined work experience exceed 100 years. These incredible men have worked for numerous saddle companies over the years and have seen many come and go.  They not only share their time and knowledge but all the pit falls that beheld so many of the other saddle companies.  Don and Cathy could not be more grateful in their honestly, sharing their wealth of knowledge.
 
The shop is taking shape.  The north wall has three work benches for panel mounting to the finished saddles as well as other miscellaneous tasks needed.  The east wall shelving stocks leather, foam, neoprene and trees along with the boxing area. You can see Don waving in the back of the shipping and receivable end of the wall shelving.  The area in front of Don is an additional large area for trailers and storage.  With the Brender up Trailers on display.

Don is in the the main area, working on mounting the delrin panels to the new saddles.  This part of the assembly needs to be absolutely perfect so this job Don and Cathy will be doing themselves to insure perfection.  They know all too well how many panel saddles have the panels mounted incorrectly which is the cause of many saddle fitting nightmares.

Don and crew frame out and finish the cutting, sewing and tooling room.  Then comes the insulation Don, Cathy and Rhea are the crew here. The lighting of this room is critical for anyone sewing and cutting using their eyes and hands.  Cathy spared no expense when ordering the proper number and type of lighting fixtures along with the bulbs that throw the correct lumens and light spectrum which is pure luxury for anyone working, (this room is even better than Cathy's sewing room at home!)
Below Don is putting up the counter and shelving.  The other photo to the right is the room completed with two complete work stations for builders, a parts bin, huge 9-foot square cutting table in the center and two Adler sewing machines.
  
Don and Cathy strike off to Illinois to visit Roger at Tarpin Hill who is passionate about historical re-production and accuracy.  His knowledge in combining building skills, organization along with modern machinery is priceless.  Then Don and Cathy travel cross county to learn from 5 of the best saddle makers in the industry.  Don and Cathy learn the never told before secrets of building and share some with them the priceless skills they have picked up along the way. (Thank you Bob and Kathy - shown below) Hill View Farms ® is learning exactly what it will take to survive in today's world against cheap foreign labor, imports and shoddy building practices

From the oldest saddling family to experienced veterans, blended with modern technology these dedicated MASTER builders will continue to guide Hill View Farms and their builders to produce and develop products for future equestrians. 

To do a job right one MUST invest in quality machineries that will hold their value and perform the tasks needed.  And when it comes to machinery Don, being a farmer, knows all too well the value of investing in good equipment.  The proper tools make a job go fast and allow the quality to shine.   Off to Texas... machinery, machinery and more machinery 12,000 square feet of machinery.  Can men ever have enough? Cathy is overwhelmed with the selections, but her diligent reading and months of research paid off.  Don soaks it all in as Corry spent over  9 hours teaching Don and Cathy hands-on as to how to operate, maintain and trouble shoot the machinery. Thank you Rae Bogle and Sharon for the great equipment and to Kory for answering all of our questions.

The machinery is in, the sewing room complete, the fitting room and stalls are ready and we are busy completing the prototype saddles.  Since September 2007 Don has been traveling to study for a nearly a week each month with the various saddle builders. The incredible wealth of knowledge is priceless and learning the tricks, just blows us both away... Now we know why others have failed and why quality lacks in other saddles.  We take the time to listen and learn from experience and wisdom of others.

Back at home:  Don is planing down the leather on the leather splitter machine so that an exact thinness is achieved.  So many times builders just build without regard to the thickness of leather.  On our Journey we asked each of the builders what their favorite piece of equipment was.  One builder told us he would go NO WHERE without his splitter.  So we made sure we got one of those. A Fortuna machine was selected.

Cathy is at home on any sewing machine and as another builder told Don and Cathy, he would be NO WHERE with out his ADLER machine.  We bought two of them!

Another extremely helpful suggestion was to have an area designated just for leather gluing and dying.  So that is what we did.  Don built a wonderful gluing and dying area.  You can see all the billets and Cathy putting the nylon webbing on the inside for strength.  Cathy is adamant about not having billets wear out. A different view of this table shows the boxes and drying rack.
   
Cathy directly supervises each step in the production of all products Hill View Farms produces.  Everything is built to exact standards. Only dedicated riders can appreciate this care in design and production.  Clarice, who is a fantastic and incredibly talented employee, is sewing (photo to left) and is cutting webbing on a hot knife (photo to right).  This step is done in another room that is well ventilated.  Clarice, like most builders /assemblers, knows nothing about horses and has only been on a horse once.  Thus, Cathy provides the guidance and explanations of the how to and why the saddles are built the way they are. Clarice does her work based on Cathy’s input.

Cathy fills orders using a shopping cart, as Hill View Farms has completely moved from the farm to the shop in Springfield.  The very small retail store will have to make do for now as Don and Cathy's plates are too full this year to begin adding on additional retail space.  With her shopping cart Cathy collects the daily orders and drives them to the shipping and receiving area where Don boxes them up and ships out.
 
Inside and out of retail area is full.  Above this area is the mezzanine where additional product is stored along with product in the 28 foot mobile tack trailer.
       
Sonia is filling an order from inside our mobile unit. Then off to Don where he reviews the order, packs, weighs and ships the order out according to the customers instructions.
 
Back inside the Sewing Room, you can see the huge cutting table and Cathy in the back ground using the hydraulic press cutter.  So easy and safe is this machine that Sonia is busy clicking out rigging using one of the numerous dies that are stored in the metal shelving just to the right of Cathy.  What fun "It is like a giant cookie cutter"!
 
   
Below you see Cathy using the burnishing machine,  This machine, next to the stapler, is the most incredible and versatile tool.  One of its uses is making all the leather loop keepers. Then in the foreground is the strap cutter.  Perfect strings, straps and anything straight is made on this machine.  What a cool toy to have.  Machines you know....  Looking down from where Cathy is working is another table that has all the billets that need burnishing and Cathy's extra Bernia sewing machine and surger from home.  (They were her spares).  Then you see the strap cutter and the blue bins  at the end, where all the bits of hardware are kept for production.  The sewing room in full production and under our direct supervision.  How cool is that?  Great thing that Minnesota is so cold in the winter. Just when would Cathy ever have the time to get this job done otherwise...by the way her Camping video lost several months of editing due to this project.  There are only so many hours in a day.  The last photo is of Don making a rear flank using the kick press machine.  This machine makes riveting a breeze and eliminates human error as the weight applied is equal with each Kick or step of the petal
     
Back in the big shop area you can see all of the leather and another machine in the foreground.  This is the beveling machine.   This machine makes the edges of the leather soft, tapered and smooth so that there are no lumps or bumps.  Cathy just hates a saddle that has a seat edge that is lumpy.  She has fought for years and years telling earlier builders this, but how would they know about lumps or bumps?  As they don't  spend 6+ plus hours with their butts in a saddle.

With the overhead view you can see completely Don's room, as he is busy assembling saddles and reading them for customers.  The shop has changed a lot from when Don first started.  Man... it is a good thing he is so handy and so talented.  Not only does he have a great head on his shoulders with brains to go with it, but he has the drive and motivation needed.  As a farmer he knows what hard work can produce and now- at last during the long Minnesota winters he has a place to get away from Cathy when she bugs him too much at home!  What an incredible guy.

Speaking of customers.... Just who are they? Well, here’s one (photos below) and look how good they have it.  State of the art in stalling and stall flooring.  There are two stalls, one 10 x 10 and the other 12x 12.  The one has the ventilated door that is very handy in stuffy areas. It also has a back wall displaying a new walling material that eliminates the need for wood (this material is currently used at the Canterbury Race track in Shakopee, MN.)  Both stalls also have the optional head opening along with openings for the hay feeder.  Naturally the stalls under the 4 inches of shavings have Stall Skins, which is a must in any situation, but remember this room... it was a concrete floor.  So linear ring mats were put over the concrete and the skins then installed over that.  Perfect.  The entire fitting area has the alley mats also by Linear.  These mats interlock and STAY in place - no curling of edges.  You can see some of our inventory of the Stall Skins in the boxes stacked high up in the corner, along with shelving for other essentials and on the other side we have a saddle rack, waiting bench along with bridle hooks.  Nice and comfy these horses are for their overnight stay.  These customers drove over 360 miles - one-way, and through a snow storm just to get fitted properly. They now wait patiently to try on their new saddles.  And before you know it, Cruser - a difficult to fit horse - who has owned MANY name-brand fancy saddles in the past, can actually be fitted correctly for the first time.  Cruser and his owner now know how to check saddle fit on a moving horse and are proud owners of an EVOLUTIONARY saddle that is DESIGNED to function and fit a moving horse!  Like how cool is that!
   

   
From November 20th,  2007 when the papers were signed for the building to January 20th, which is TWO months - including all those holidays.... This is what Don and Cathy have accomplished.  Hard work and faith have blessed Don and Cathy who are both committed to the task at hand and to helping each ONE of their customers.

As this incredible Journey continues, new employees and passionate riders learn the techniques necessary to build quality products for everyone to enjoy.  New patterns, ideas and products are consistently being evaluated for the market place.  Don now pass on what he has learned from visiting 8 saddle manufacturers and learning from 10 master builders. In Don's own words.  " Saddle building is not rocket science".  "But details and quality is everything" and  "if the consumer is not satisfied - return it".

 
What a great looking crew of builders; all having great fun and boy are we all hard on each other.  Quality and function is everything.

Now we are in June.....  Things have not slowed one bit!

We are still running about 30 saddles behind and the wait can be up to three months.  But we are becoming more efficient. We sort trees and this is the pile that needs inspection, filing, sanding and hanger brackets put on.  Each saddle is assigned a work order and on the back side of the laminated sheet is the customers invoice (if the saddle has been claimed or ordered).

After this stage the saddles are set up for base seats.  Here is a pile waiting.  The one saddle has the bar covers on and the others the base seat is started. We try hard to group saddles so that way we can be more time effective. One can see below, the stack of rigging which we  make new every month as we rattle through the orders.

Flaps and parts are cut also in quantity.  Above are 4 sets of flaps that have been cut and are ready to be used.

Below are the saddles that are in final assembly.  This is what awaits Cathy when she comes in on Tuesdays and Wednesday to work.  This is also the time that the customer will get a call saying that their saddle is in final assembly .  When a saddle gets to this stage it will be just two days or so before it will ship out. Providing the saddle has passed the two person inspection team that sign off on every detail.

  

During this final assembly the panels are measured by Cathy and then put on by Don.  

If a saddle manages to make it through the complete process without being snatched up it goes into inventory. Keeping our storage trailer full during peak riding season is a full time job as many spaces need to be filled.

We are continuing to work hard and  find the quality of employees that meet our needs. 

Tauer Manfactuing LLC and Hill View Farms LLC, are really, REALLY working hard to meet the needs of our customers.  As a family business we will continue to pursue quality and produce a product that we can be very proud of.  We currently are working on efficiency so that our customers wait times are shorter and we can have and maintain a bountiful inventory (75 to 100 saddles) without having to raise prices to slow demand. So far is it a slow start...but we will get there.

During the off season we are able to catch up and hopefully can maintain an inventory for speedy deliveries.

As a dear friend once told me; was something that her father told her when she was a child as she was looking over a 40 acre field making shocks with her sister. He said to her, "Don't look at the overwhelming task ahead in despair, but but look back at what you have accomplished".  And this indeed is what we have done, for in a span of one year Don and Cathy started a saddle company with 100% full production in all model lines (194 saddles built in 2008) plus tack and new product development.  Now the job ahead is to work on mainstreaming this incredible saddle line into national retail stores though Tail Tamers our national distributorship.  For more information on these saddle and how to properly fit all saddles, purchase the Hill View Farms Saddling video, which you can get your full money back, if  you end up purchasing a saddle.

All About Saddling – A 2 disk set: Get a front row seat to a saddling demonstration.  See first hand how saddles work, how they are they are designed and how technology is changing the way we saddle the horse. l        Learn how to properly tack up both English and Western saddles and how to properly fit, cruppers, breast collars, bridles, bits, pads, girths, cinches and even breeching. l        Learn how to identify various back shapes and how to test for proper saddle fit.  l        Learn how to use shims to correct saddle fit and how to palpate your horse's back for condition. l        Lastly learn how to identify problems associated with your tack and how to care for it. Nowhere else will you find a more complete DVD set chucked full of so much information that took over a decade to assemble. Making horses, mules and even donkeys comfortable along with their owners was the driving force behind this production, which is guaranteed to change the life of those you love. Running time 128 minutes. ISBN 0-9776591-0-0. Free, if you end up purchasing a saddle. Item # BK-DVD - Price $ 19.95

  Follow Cathy and Don on this marvelous journey. 

With the support of friends, family, manufacturers, trainers, tradesmen and hundreds of other supporters who SHARE the passion and understand the love between horse and rider are making the vision at Hill View Farms® LLC  a reality. Your daily calls and emails fill us with pride and joy and we all thank you from  the bottom of our hearts.

This is a story of Evolution: This is a story of passion, this is for those horses who don't have a voice and need a saddle that will fit and can go from one horse to another with out trouble. 
This is a story of love and dedication from passionate people who love their horses and love what they do.

...Tauer Manufacturing Presents...

Problems that are fixed once and for all are: The encasement on the panels, the tree, the way the foam backing is cut, the wear on the panel and panel assembly, the inserts, the rigging, the foam, the leather, the hardware, the lack of proper ride time to test ride the saddle for fit for both horse and rider and get your money back, a strong warranty and lastly the over zealous pricing by greedy companies and individuals have all been addressed

The encasement is tough.  It is the same material used on the Ranch Handler water & muck carts and the fabulous kangaroo feed bags. The heavy gauge wear slide plate and the nickel/aluminum rivets ensure a life long usage of neglect.  The foam and backer layers are fingered and designed to keep washers in place and counter sunk to keep working with absolutely no pressure spots.

Sharing their passion, Dick (one of the Tauer's dearest family friends), the panels are developed, cut and assembled using the latest in technology. 
  
A new insert design operates as a true ball and socket or ball bearing.  This insert combined with the specially designed radius of the washer delivers pure fluidly of motion to the panel so that it can conform to the different widths of the horse. The panel thus independently produces the classic fit parameters like gullet width, flair, twist, rocker, etc. The flexibility of the material also helps it to further nestle against every curve of a horses body.

The saddle trees are designed for the panel - not the horse!  The panels are not designed for the saddle tree - as so many are.  This panel is designed so that it will fit the horse and it is the tree that must be designed fit the panel and STRONG too.  Cathy worked hard with Dave (Black Masa Saddle Co.) and together they had a passionate drive to create what would be the perfect tree pattern.

Cathy tests the new panel system as it performs on the troubling wide backed broad shouldered horses -the most difficult to fit.  The panels flexed and moved like soft butter on warm toast. With Susan in the seat Cathy puts her hand under the panel and flexed it up, with her knuckles, nothing bottomed out on the tree and the panels conformed to every curve of the horses back - total and complete even pressure through out every inch of the panel  - front center and rear - Glorious Perfection.

   
As a rider Cathy has designed, fit, cut and sorted all the pattern pieces for each size and model of saddle.  As she had done in the past, but this time it is for Hill View Farms ® LLC  Evolutionary Saddles

Cathy hand selects the quality leather and foams that will be used in production. She does all the buying, ordering, sampling.  Every detail she dives into and purchases the best product for the job that is needed.  Multi-tasking is what Cathy does best - so when the phone is answered you can bet she is involved in two other projects, but drops them all when listening carefully to a customers needs and she would be lost if it were not for her computer.

From paper patterns a die is made and then clicked out for saddle and tack assembly. Cathy learned tooling as a youth at summer camp but now tooling takes on a whole new dimension.  Cathy tests the tooling tools and works on future pattern designs.

Cathy visits not only her teams of builders located around the country but has visited over 7 different saddle manufacturers.  This  work ensures that the proto-type saddles are built to HER exact specifications and matching with historical accuracy. Those teams Cathy selected represent both modern and historical saddle builders.  Upon the Cathy's approval, the paper patterns from the prototype saddles are then sent in for dies or cookie cutters to be made. It is from these dies that the various pieces of the saddle will be clicked out, (using a 25 ton hydraulic press) and then assembled.
 

2005 & 2006 Eldorado Saddle and Tack moved from Missouri to Northwestern Illinois, expanded into a new building and began making saddles. The many of the products produced were the designs inspired by Cathy’s experience of trial and error and who drew upon her extensive riding and knowledge within the equestrian field

2002, 2003, 2004 Cathy was contacted by American Saddles of Germany. Mr.  Kai Klee.  He too had been working with Len in years past and he had his shirt taken also by Richard Watson.  Being linked in this way, Cathy thought helping Kai out with his project would also help her with hers.  Cathy and her friend Paul, (who was a genius at web site design) came up with the website name for this company "American-Flex" which is still seen today as .com and .net.  While later American Saddles adopted it as their own now as, .uk and they even went so far as to trade marked it in Germany and took the Ortho-Flex Pegasus horse, making it a unicorn as their logo. Improvements were made to the panel function and marketing was underway.  Hill View Farms ® LLC  again generated revenues for American-Saddles that represented over half the companies gross profits.   It was also during this time that repairs needed to be made to the saddles - as shipping over-seas was ineffective. So Cindy was employed by American Saddles to do this, as they worked out a relationship it became clear that they did not see eye to eye.  Caught in the middle Cathy had to choose sides and she chose to side with Cindy (Eldorado Saddle and Tack).  That decision cost her dearly as Kai refused to either return her pre-paid money for saddles or send the saddles on order. Now more than ever Cathy needed Cindy to produce the disparately needed saddles that she needed for the horses.  In order to do this Eldorado Saddle and Tack needed to expand, and Hill View Farms® LLC  was rapidly becoming  known as a family who worked together, putting the horse first.

2001 brought changes in management as decisions within Ortho-Flex, beyond Cathy's control took place.  Determined to continue her quest, Cathy implored Richard Watson to build saddles as he had once done for Len.  Rocking R was in business but again...management from within took Richard down another path leaving Cathy to once again seek out a company who shared her vision. It was also at this time that Cathy was looking for a seamstress to make the leather goods necessary for Hill View Farms  ® LLC  designed and built to Cathy's specifications. The only person who had the skill and design insight that she knew was CINDY! Cathy assured Cindy that she could provide her with enough income to start a home business. The biggest obstacle in launching this new career for Cindy was purchasing the machines necessary for sewing leather. The good equipment is expensive (and if you know a seamstress, you know that they are picky!). At that time neither Cindy nor Cathy had the funds to invest in such equipment, but Cathy’s husband who is a farmer did. Together they figured they could get Don paid back by the end of the year, when his yearly operating loan was due. Don approved and together they called Cindy, only to discover that Cindy in the meantime had spoken to her mother who cashed in several CD’s thus making the loan to Cindy and launching Eldorado Saddle and Tack. In one year, as forecasted by Cathy, Cindy was able to pay her mom paid back with interest. But what about the saddles?

1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 With the farming loan paid back and Cathy's reputation with the bank secure, she was well on her way to forming and expanding her company. The children Rhea, Kelly and Soina  were all now riding panel saddles.  And guess what...no more bucking, biting or sore knees! It was then that Cathy pledged that no more horses would dumped off to kill because of bad saddles.  The Tauer family rides and Cathy made good her promise to the horse continuing to expand her knowledge and becoming a certified equine sport massage therapist. She worked hard and with Len Brown designed and developed better saddles and products for the horse and rider.  Her work in marketing and sales earned her the top sales awards for the company bringing in over half of the companies annual revenues.   It was during this time that Cathy drove down monthly to the Original Ortho-Flex Saddle Company in Missouri to pick up saddles, it is also when she and Don took a keen interest in  saddle construction and got to know the employees personally. One of the employees she met was a woman named Cindy who at the time, worked in scheduling and receivables. Cindy is a TALL woman – easily 5’10". She was always beautifully dressed and had the most incredible taste of style - rarely seen on women of her stature. As a seamstress, Cathy noticed Cindy’s clothes and began to ask questions, discovering that Cindy too was a seamstress - but only for herself only. Naturally they both ogled each other’s clothing, looking at the bottom side of each other’s work. A friendship was born.
 

1996 Cathy began looking for a replacement horse for Pete as he was the worse bucker of them all.  So much so that Rhea refused to ride him.  He also had a horrible sway back.  Cathy found Rhya, who also was a problem horse and upon inspection realized it was a saddle that bothered Rhya and so riding her bare back Rhya did great. Cathy told the people that she was getting her from the problem but at the time they were not in the mind set to accept that the saddle was the reason for Rhya's bad behavior of taking off, running through the bit and needing to be cross tied to be saddled as so not to get bitten. Cathy bought the mare and rode her in the panel saddle with her youngest daughter on behind.  While Rhea rode Cathy's horse - who did not buck even with the a crappy pony saddle on.  But there were still the other two ponies and as the family and horse herd grew Cathy realized that Rhya needed to be Rhea's horse and the only way to ride Rhya was with a panel saddle and they needed three saddles for the children. So phone calls were made. The company had since gone to dealers. So Cathy made a call to the nearest dealer.  When ordering Cathy realized that the dealer did NOT know horses or the parts of the saddle!  She did not know the difference between a cantle and a fork!  How in the heck could Cathy fork over $6,000.00 to someone who knew nothing about the horse or the customer?  So she called the company back and within one month, Don and Cathy - Hill View Farms ® LLC became dealers for the Ortho-Flex Saddle Company.  But it must be noted that it was Don's farming line of credit they borrowed from to buy into this dealership.  The $25,000 loan had to be paid back at the end of the 1997 farming year. They struggled as a young family of 5 just starting to farm, with no real assists. It was tough going for the Tauer household.

 

1995 Cathy and Don bought cheap saddles for the kids. The kids  were tough and rubbery, and could manage being sore and besides the kids did not weigh that much, and so the horses could easily take a kid for a nice ride.  Cathy and Don did not realize back then  how wrong they were.  Even with just a little weight in the saddle the ponies would buck if they did not like the tack. Rhea, Kelly and Sonia took dozens upon dozens of nose dives and headers off of all those ponies until, the light came on for Cathy that regardless of weight.... a proper fitting saddle can make the difference in having a child being bucked off or not.  What price do you put on your children's safety?

1994 Don saw an ad for a saddle that made claims about riding for 8 hours and feeling just as good at the end of the ride as you did before you rode. $1,600.00 was a huge sum of money back then, but it would be worth it if Don would be able to ride with Cathy.  They bought their first Delrin Panel saddle and purchased a second for Cathy the following year. The difference was incredible in how much easier the horses learned when Cathy trained them with the new saddle. Previously, Cathy had 7 different saddles - for the various horses she rode.

 

1990, 1991, 1992 & 1993 After years of pain Don announced that he would not be riding any more due to his painful knees and walking bow legged for days after riding. Don said that he would accompany Cathy on her riding adventures and watch the kids.  It was during this time that Cathy realized something had to be done. She had gotten rid of the bucking horse, as Don rode hers and she got another, but what could be done about Don's knees? 

 

1989 With children on the way,  Don and Cathy move away from tent camping and into a pick-up camper.

 

 

1988 A bite to change history. As Don was cinching up his horse Bill, Bill turned and bit him in the side. This was nothing new, but this time was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  This time, Bill really got hold of Don and this bite was through insulated coveralls. Bill had a strong history of this behavior and when Don was mounted up he would have to box Bill in the ears to get him to stop bucking.  (This was a horse that Cathy bought for Don as a calm riding horse, as the horse was when she went to test ride him, later she discovered that the horse had been drugged!)  Naturally, after Don came into the house with this bite Cathy - then 5 months pregnant – went out and got on this horse bareback (so as to come off clean and not get hung up on equipment if he got to bucking which he always did with Don).  Well, the horse was perfect and after working him hard for 4 miles, all she could do was pat him and put him away. What did this say?  So was the bucking and biting a clue that something was wrong?  Was it the saddle? Cathy and Don sold the horse - honestly, the next day because of this behavior.  Hind site is 20/20.  How many good horses are sent down the road due to a bad saddle and how many people get injured or worse due to bad or ill fitting equipment?

1987 Cathy and Don are dating and Cathy shares her passion of horse camping.  Cathy came with horses and Don knew then he was in trouble...  But his love and his lack of a lobotomy kept him coming back for more. Don says that the attraction for Cathy is that he had a strong back and a hay baler (actually it was his love for animals, his work ethic and most of all his sense of humor that made her laugh, told Cathy that she met the man of her dreams.

 

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