REAL PEOPLE: Finding a new passion in life
Waller won the bid to create the royalty court clothing and gear, including color-coordinated chaps and belts as well as tack with stylish colored inlays in a stamped croc pattern and pink fringe on their horses’ breastcollars for the theme “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night.”
“They are so unique,” said Stampede Queen Rachel Sauer. “It takes a lot of time and talent to do what Amanda does. The headstalls and reins she made matched the green and white of our clothes. She does a great job.”
Waller is no stranger to the equestrian world, having grown up watching her father, Mike Lewis, train thoroughbred horses at a race track. She was also influenced by her grandfather, Leon Lewis, who was a jockey and race track steward for many years. She is a fourth generation equestrian who was placed in the saddle when she was 7 years old, and who later trained horses with her father in Idaho.
Her natural talents had bolted out of the starting gate with a lot of energy and promise, until one day in 2007, it all came to a screeching halt. On an icy road in Oregon, she was driving her vehicle with her daughter, Reata, as a passenger in the rear seat. Coming toward her was an oncoming pilot car leading a wide load, and then suddenly, it lost control on the ice and hit her vehicle in a head-on collision. Waller was seriously injured, but her young daughter was safe in her child seat.
“It was pretty bad,” she said. “It cracked the whole engine in my vehicle.”
It was a defining moment in her life because she knew her days as a horse trainer were over. She could not physically handle the rigors of riding and training so many horses. Today, she rides only for leisure with her two children, Reata and Mikie.
In 2008, after her recovery, she decided to rebrand herself as a designer and manufacturer of fashion leather tack and gear for cowboys and cowgirls.
“I started doing leather work with the help of mentors that I met at trade shows,” Waller said. “I kinda jumped in head first, making stuff and going to trade shows in California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho."
For the complete story, see Monday's edition of The Observer.