Changing saddles

Saddle Up settles down for a spell at a Dallas landmark where the patrons enjoy mechanized rides far rougher than any Texas highway.

Unlike most truckers who embrace the cowboy image, John Schmitz of Odessa, Texas, actually worked as a cowboy.

“I loved horses and being around cattle,” says Schmitz, who spent two years riding through feed yards to cull sick animals. “Then I figured there had to be an easier way to make a living, so I picked truck driving.”

Being a highway cowboy has advantages. “I like being able to get out of the elements in a truck,” Schmitz says. “On a horse, it is cold in the wintertime and hot in the summertime.”

Schmitz’s Peterbilt 379 extended hood and five other trucks in his fleet are leased to Watt and Stewart Trucking of San Angelo, Texas. Schmitz hauls “monster tires” for mammoth mining vehicles.

When the show-truck bug bit Schmitz, the cowboy theme and the name Saddle Up were natural choices. “Cowboys and trucking were his two loves,” says his wife, Mary Jo Schmitz.

Schmitz entered four Pride & Polish shows before 2005. “We placed every year but the first year,” he says. In 2005, Schmitz tied for First in Conventional Bobtail 1998-2000. He won a Second and a Third in the 2006 show.