Custom Saddle Making Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of 'Custom Saddle Making', you may also like to read 'Custom Saddle Making Part 1'. I described the approach I take with all my clients; first discussing their riding style and requirements, then measuring the profile of the horse’s back, making the tree, selecting the hides to be used and making the patterns, before placing the various parts of the hide on the tree, and lining the skirts with sheepskin.

This month, I’m going to describe the final stages of making a custom saddle, from fitting the seat through to decorating the saddle. The seat leather is the most expensive part of the hide and of the saddle, and I use just one piece of leather. It has to hold its shape throughout the life of the saddle, whilst the back of the saddle needs to be malleable, so it can be shaped into the cantle dish. As with all parts of the saddle, the leather for the seat is fitted onto the tree whilst wet and left to dry in several stages, especially when carved.  After the seat is fitted and glued in, I fit a back jockey in most saddles (although in the image shown, there is no back jockey and the whole skirt is exposed). The next stage is to fit and hand stitch the Cantle binding, with the stitching going through five layers of skirting leather which is over one inch thick.

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