A love of horses and leather guides Grouse Creek couple
Story and photos by Dianna Troyer
On a whiteboard, Taylor Anderson’s to-do list for her customized leatherwork seems overwhelming at her home studio in Grouse Creek, Utah.
She has nearly two dozen orders for chaps and chinks, bridles and belts, purses, saddlebags and spur straps.
“People are willing to wait 18 months for her pieces,” says Anderson’s husband, Taylor Lloyd.
When they bought an old industrial Singer sewing machine in 2016, the couple planned to make or repair whatever they needed for working with their horses. Lloyd is a cowboy at the Grouse Creek Ranch. They both compete in roping and team branding.
“As I took classes and watched internet tutorials, I realized I love working with leather,” Anderson says. “Friends saw what I was doing and asked me to make things for them, too. I’m doing what I love— dealing with silver, leather and horses.”
In 2016, she launched the Facebook page Taylor Anderson Leather. She says she aspires to build affordable quality gear suitable for the show pen or a working cowboy.
“I really like it when people give me sentimental things and ask me to make something with it that they can use every day,” she says.
Anderson is using family heirloom buckles to make a purse for her mother-in-law. She even put herself on her to-do list.
“I took the silver conchos from the belt I wore with my wedding dress and put them on my purse strap,” Anderson says. “It’s a reminder of our special day.”
Sometimes she feels inspired to make a piece on speculation.
“When I post something on Facebook, it’s usually gone in about 10 minutes,” she says. “It’s gratifying when people see a photo of what I’ve made and write posts like ‘I need this’ or ‘Would you make another?’”
As Anderson works, she remembers an inspirational motto, “Where attention goes, energy flows and results show.” Hand-tooled roses and sunflowers flow along the tops of chaps and chinks, belts and purses.
“I really like building belts—challenging myself on each piece to see how well I can make everything flow,” Anderson says. “I have a love of flowers, especially roses
Living in remote Grouse Creek—a community with a population of 125 in northern Utah—does not hinder her. The nearest town of Burley, with 10,000 residents, is a two-hour drive one way. Half of the 66-mile drive is on a dirt road.
“All I need is here—a post office and great internet,” Anderson says. “At other ranches we’ve lived at, the post office was a long drive from home.”
Anderson concedes she and her husband live a nontraditional lifestyle.
“Neither one of us has an 8-to-5 kind of job,” she says. “Every day is different, which we like. We can’t imagine living anywhere else. We like the solitude and how
supportive people are of each other here.”
Their lives center around their horses, a daydream they each had since childhood.
“I’ll always remember the first time I rode a horse,” Anderson says. “It changed my life.”
She grew up in Nampa, west of Boise.
“One day my uncle stopped by and let me ride his roping horse around our neighborhood,” she says. “That was it. I was hooked on horses.”
Her parents bought her a horse. She enrolled in 4-H to learn about riding and caring for them. After high school, she earned an associate degree in equine studies from the College of Southern Idaho.
Meanwhile, Lloyd grew up in Oakley working with his parents’ concrete business.
“My uncle had a ranch, so I worked there,” he says. “He taught me about horses.”
The couple met through friends at CSI.
Along with Anderson’s leathercraft, they earn a living selling horses.
“I think of myself as a working cowboy more than a trainer,” Lloyd says.
One of their horses, Fairlea Swiss Silver—nicknamed Gringo—impressed buyers last May at the Winnemuca Ranch, Rope and Performance Horse Sale. The 6-year-old dapple gray quarter horse gelding was the highest selling horse at $48,000.
“A friend started Gringo, and we bought him about two years ago,” Lloyd says. “We rode him on the ranch and at ropings. He’s reliable—the same horse every time you swing a leg over him. He’s always willing to do whatever you ask of him. His new owner is a roper and really liked the bloodlines.”
Lloyd says they were stunned at Gringo’s sale price.
“We don’t expect to sell our horses at prices like that every time,” he says. “It was an unexpected and appreciated bonus. We were glad to pay off some debt. I’m a fan
of collectible antique horse bits, too, so I bought a few as a way to celebrate.”
As Anderson crosses off an item on her to-do list, another few replace it. She acknowledges the list will never end.
“That’s the way we like it,” Anderson says. “We’re doing what we love, living here with our horses.”