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.
Everyone loves a foal. Let’s face it, they’re incredibly cute and even the most hardened person would struggle not to get a little weak at the knees, seeing one gallivanting around. But it’s two-fold, a bit like puppies; they’re cute, but they grow into bigger animals. In the same breath, it’s as ‘easy’ to breed a horse as it is a puppy or a kitten, or so many people seem to believe. However, what are the true costs, when everything is done correctly and with the animals’ best interests at heart?
Barrel racing is fast and furious with speed, agility, twists and sharp turns as you move through the cloverleaf. Due to the nature of barrel racing, the horse faces many challenges. Five key areas in which a horse can be strengthened and prepared for barrel racing to help give a successful race are:
Stamina. The horse must be fit to sprint away from the start line, and sprint to complete the arc from barrel to barrel
Balance. Essential for when they edge around the barrel to achieve the perfect arc beat the clock
Flexible. The horse must be able to bend in both directions fluidly and quickly
Strenght. The horse must have the muscle to take the weight shift through the body when going from speed to almost an instant stop
Mental. The horse must be physically and mentally prepared.
There are many saddles and saddle makers out there. I would like to explain how and why I make saddles, the way I do. I have ridden horses since I was 12 (I am now 36). I understand that every rider is different; has a different shape to their body, with his/her own style of riding, preferred riding position, meaning that some require a narrower seat or a wider one. For different riding styles, some people like a flat seat, others like a deeper pocket and higher front rise. Some prefer higher cantle, some others do not. When I make a custom saddle, I always ask as many questions as I can, to find out my client’s riding style and requirements to make sure that the saddle will be comfortable and functional for the purpose of riding. My clients can choose the horn size, seat length and shape, cantle size and of course, the type of the saddle they are looking for (wade, reining, roping, cutting, etc.).