Hello my name is Brad Tarp. I grew up and live south of Salinas, California. I learned to braid from Bill Dorrance, our neighbor but did not meet him till I was 15 years old. I went to high school with his boys, Billy, Dave and Steve. My cousin Bryan Neubert and I would either ride or drive through our property to get to Bill’s and he spent hours teaching us how to scrape hides, make strings and braiding small projects. Bill also taught us about roping and working cattle. He was a great man and teacher. Since then I still talk to Bryan regularly and we share ideas. Bryan has been a huge help to me in learning new braiding techniques. I play his braiding videos occasionally to remind me about certain buttons.
After a small stint at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, I went to work in Nevada at Soldiers Meadows for Ray Hunt. Then married my wife Rosemary and went to work at the Bare Ranch in Eagleville, California, for Simplot. This is where I met Lige Langston and he taught me how to make rawhide honda’s. Lige’s honda’s were the first I had ever seen on a nylon rope. Lige was an incredible person and buckaroo in Northern Nevada and California. You can see him in the movie Lige: Portrait of a Rawhide Braider. It was filmed in Surprise Valley, California. Lige loved to sing every Sunday at church in Cedarville, California and would listen on my radio at Grass Valley Cow Camp to the opera every night between 6 and 7. He also was a great cook who so graciously shared his sour dough recipe with my wife. We stopped eating those biscuits after we both gained 10 plus lbs! We moved again and worked at the ZX Ranch in Paisley, Oregon for Ray McLaughlin. Those times were a lot of fun working on the buckaroo crew 6 plus days per week. Big cavvy, lots of horses in my string and enjoyed every minute of it – except shoeing in the snow.
In the late 1970s, I again hooked up with Bill Dorrance and he loaned me his tools and told me I could take his tools and have them copied. Bill also gave me a key to his shop in case I needed a tool or a place to work. In fact I still have this treasured key.
I now have my own small shop at our family ranch in Pine Canyon.
Since I still have a day job I use a lot of kangaroo leather in my projects as I can set it down anytime and pick it up and go again. Kangaroo is much stronger than calf leather for small strings. On some of my smaller buttons it can be split down to 1/32″ and still retain the strength. On larger bosal bodies it is so even that I do not have to split it. Working with rawhide requires more time as you have to work with the strings with the correct moisture. That’s why a lot of my bosal bodies are rawhide; I can get those braided and take my time with the buttons.
All of my rawhide and kangaroo come from suppliers from the United States. The kangaroo leather is all drum stuffed, which means the color is pushed into the leather and grease is added at that time. I use rawhide in 90% of my cores. They are either recycled riata’s, braided pieces of rawhide, twisted rawhide or single strings. Occasionally I will use a piece of round leather stock as a core for a softer feel.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns please send me an email and I will get back to you.