All Buckled Up

All Buckled Up

A talented leather worker takes buckles and stories in trade for his work. 

A wall of trophy buckles decorates Flavio Ribiero's home, souvenirs of

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

Some people collect autographs from their heroes; Flavio Ribeiro collects buckles. Flavio, featured in the August 2021 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal, likes to make tooled-leather goods. When a professional rodeo cowboy asks Flavio to make something for him, Flavio sometimes requests a buckle “with a story” in trade. 

We’ll let Flavio tell the story of his collection, and of three buckles with special significance:

"My collection is comprised of more than 40 buckles from Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champions Joe Beaver, Dave Brock, Rabe Rabon, Troy Pruitt, Trevor Brazile, Tuf Cooper, Luke Branquinho, Rich Skelton, Hunter Cure, Caleb Smidt and others; Professional Bull Riders world and finals champions Guilherme Marchi and Robson Palermo; and I also have a buckle from Sherry Cervi that she won at the RodeoHouston Super Shootout. It is a one-of-a-kind collection that I am really proud of.



“The top buckle, I got from Justin Maass. He was my trainer for more than six years. He said, ‘I picked a good buckle for you. It is from one of your favorite ropings.’ The Spicer Gripp is one the biggest ropings in the U.S., and I was fortunate to rope there a couple of times, so I love that roping. 

“The buckle in the middle is Roy Cooper’s, aka ‘The Super Looper’ and an eight-time PRCA world champion. This buckle was actually the first one in my collection. I traded with Roy, and he was supposed to give me a cool buckle that he won in his professional career. Of course, I was hoping to get a National Finals Rodeo go-round buckle, as they are probably the coolest ones to have. The day I went to pick it up, Roy said, ‘I don’t have any of my NFR round buckles or other famous buckles to give you. Most of them I gave to museums or charity or friends. However, I have one here that I think you would appreciate even more. It’s my 1975 American Junior Rodeo Association all-around buckle.’ That was the year before he turned pro and won the Rookie of the Year and his first world title in 1976. 

“The third buckle is Blair Burk’s 2002 NFR eighth go-round buckle. I was at Blair’s house in Durant, Oklahoma, one day, and he said he wanted to give me a cooler buckle for my collection. I already had two buckles from him. He asked me, if I could have any of his buckles, which one would I want, besides his Salinas buckle. I said, ‘The 2002 eighth round NFR buckle.’ Blair said, ‘What? I thought you would want an AQHA world champion buckle that I won on “Sweetness.” That is a very specific buckle. Why do you want this one?’  

“I replied, ‘Because this was the first NFR round I ever watched, and when I got to the Thomas & Mack Center, I told you and your family that you were going to be 7.2 and win the round. You were 7.2 and won the round. You also rode “Go Round,” a horse you got from Troy Pruitt. So that’s why I want this one.’ Blair gave me the buckle that day.” 



The AQHA reserve world champion buckle was given to Flavio by AQHA Professional Horseman C.R. Bradley, who earned it in 2005 aboard Twisters Enola Gay, who later produced AQHA Superhorse Twisters Enola Rey.



Besides doing amazing leather work, roping in his spare time and teaching others how to cook in the traditions of his native Brazil, Flavio is also a Ph.D. who works for an animal nutrition company. It’s impossible to give a short synopsis of his story, so you’ll want to read the full piece in the August issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal, along with a recipe from Flavio’s files. 

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