GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Michigan is hardly the Old West, but after President Bush (search) gave a commencement speech here Saturday an aide was spotted carrying a fancy brown leather saddle up the rear stairs of Air Force One.
Bush went to Grand Rapids to give a graduation speech at Calvin College and came home with a saddle emblazoned with the presidential seal and decorated with floral patterns and the president's initials, G.W.B. The White House said it was a gift from two artisans but didn't disclose their names.
According to an article published Saturday in The Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot, 77-year-old James Rice of Hudson, Mich., and his assistant, Danielle Cole, spent 90 hours making the saddle last summer at his farm.
Rice told the newspaper that the saddle was worth about $2,500. He said he made it because Cole's father thought it would be a good idea.
"It has big Texas skirts, a Montana tapadero — the hood over the stirrups — a California stretch seat, a Nebraska horn, made in Boise, Idaho; and the tree, or base, is made in Texas," Rice told the newspaper.
Bush has been dubbed a "windshield rancher'" because he tools around his Texas spread in a white pickup truck. It's unclear what the president, who seems to prefer bikes to horses, plans to do with the saddle.