History - Tom Balding Bits and Spurs | Background, Established, Tom's Story, Shop, Location, First Bit, History, Old Photos


Tom grew up in Ontario, California, a city located about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. It was the 1960s and an entrepreneurial heyday for southern California. Thousands of machine shops did contract work for aircraft companies or specialty fabricators. Balding is self-taught. He began welding custom hot rod engine parts, for Hooker, the day he graduated from high school. He started his own company, mastering difficult welding techniques and working with many different materials. For almost ten years, he made sailboat equipment for Hobie and certified aircraft welder for the US Government.

However, he wanted a different life than the greater Los Angeles area offered. In 1980, after exploring the west, he bought a house and a little piece of land outside Buffalo, Wyoming, a town of only about 6,000 people. He welded only occasionally, preferring to take odd jobs: carpentry, personal sales, or working as a ranch hand. He also taught himself how to ride; and trained his own horse.

One day in 1984, a woman asked him to weld a broken bit. The task changed his life. From that moment on, Balding knew he would design and fabricate bits and spurs.

Success did not come easily. He still had to work other jobs. In fact, he was so broke at one point that he almost had to sell his land. His fabrication shop was an old mobile home that did not protect him from the cold of winter. Eventually, in 1998, World Champion Horseman, started using Balding’s bits. Word got around the western horse circuit that Balding’s bits were the best that money could buy. Balding built his own house and upon selling it several years later, used the profit to buy land in Sheridan, Wyoming. He then built his shop at this location and began hiring employees.

Balding continues to make all his bits and spurs from scratch. His business may have expanded to thousands of orders, but he maintains quality control and treats his small staff like family. In addition to his standard line  of equipment, he does custom work for professional horsemen and women around the world. He seeks their feedback, too, always eager to improve his product and ensure customer satisfaction.

Tom 2








Hooker Header   General Dynamics



   (Aplenlite profile is #11 on link)