Posts Tagged ‘western saddle’

Finally, this saddle is finished!

I can’t say this is the same saddle that I started four years ago, because it isn’t. It had to be completely re-worked. However, the vision I had for it remained the same, and honestly? I think it came out a lot better than it would have if I had made it four years ago.

I learned a lot from it though, and it’s the nicest saddle I’ve made so far. Any issues I see with it will only help me make the next one better. I think this is the 6th western saddle I’ve built, and the first in 5 years. (almost to the exact day, that’s really weird!)

Here it is on Lady Phase/Truly Unsurpassed: (who is probably my favorite LP ever, she’s gorgeous!)

Some detail shots… this silver is so hard to photograph!

On Roxy:

And the ISH:

How does it look on Zippo?

Here’s a comparison shot I took mostly for myself. The left is my second saddle, pretty much straight from a Rio Rondo kit. Made it in 2007.. ish? I’m pretty sure I used a thumbtack for the stitch marking and I can’t believe the silver tape plates are still on. 😀

It helps me to compare old work with new work, to see that yes, I have improved, and to not be so hard on myself. ❤

Even with this saddle's challenges I still had a lot of fun putting it together. I'm so glad I decided to re-start this project and see it through to the end!

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This saddle has been teaching me so much. I wasn’t too excited about working on the stirrups, so I made sure to begin working on those next. In the end, I really loved how they turned out, and am so glad I didn’t cut corners and make them simple like my previous ones.

These were assembled using a method shared by Niki Hertzog on the Braymere blog. Thank you Niki!

The next step to tackle was attaching them to the fenders. I was very tempted to just glue them in place and call it done. But part of me wanted to figure out how to make them adjustable, so I did a little searching on the internet.

This particular video helped things click in my brain:

Reading tutorials with or without pictures helps, but video helps so much more. I’ve noticed that a lot of horse tack retailers and brands now have YouTube channels to show off/sell/show how to use their products, which I’ve found to be really helpful with creating this stuff in miniature.

So here are my mini adjustable stirrups!

A lot of western saddles use a blevins buckle on stirrups. I know someone in the hobby made these once but it was so long ago that I can’t remember who! I wasn’t brave enough to figure that out so I opted for a simple dee ring buckle instead.

Though I hope I’ll never have to take them off, it’s nice knowing that I can without having to rip glued pieces apart. This is especially helpful when the first thing you do is put the stirrups on backwards. *cough*

It might have been more practical to have the buckles on the outside, but I also like the idea of the buckle tongue not touching the horse, and having the excess leather tucked in the stirrup. Will this come back and bite me later? Maybe!

Also, there’s a weird slot in one of my fenders. I was going to have the straps that hold everything together threaded through the leather to keep it in place, but it wasn’t working and I didn’t want to risk wrecking the fender. So that’s why that stupid little hole is there, haha. (at least it’s mostly hidden)

Here’s another look:

The top of the fender is attached the the lace with both glue and thread. This is a stress point so fingers crossed it will hold up ok! But even if it does break in the future, the lace can be replaced without too much pain.

This tree (from The World of Model Horse Collecting on eBay) has slots in it for the stirrups.

They’re even, YAYYY!

(I’m also so tempted to tear the leather off that tree and start over….)

Here are a couple more pieces I’ve been working on. On earlier saddles I’ve made, I’ve put the two seat pieces (seat jockey?) right on top of the suede seat piece. All of my saddle references have the seat piece on top of the jockey though, and I’m not sure why I never noticed it before? Anyway it’s a chance to try something new, and if it doesn’t work I can chop it up.

It’s slowly coming together! I’ll admit that I’ve been nervous posting anything about this saddle, but I’ve decided to do it anyway and be as open about my process as possible. I hope that maybe someone out there will find it helpful!

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I’m really good at starting projects and abandoning them. 99% of the time it’s because I run into a Problem that I don’t know how to tackle, or there is something that needs to be corrected, but correcting it would require a lot of work. (or a complete do-over, which is very unappealing when you’ve already invested so much time into the piece)

This is exactly what happened with the western show saddle I started four years ago.

In this case, the Problem was how to cover the tree. For whatever reason I never really tried to work it out, put it aside, and got distracted with other things.

Last weekend I came across all the pieces while cleaning, and was going to just throw them out. But nooo, I decided that it needed to be revived.

Maybe a change of pace is what I’ve been needing to get out of this creative slump? Unfortunately time was not kind and the leather had darkened with age. The more I looked at it the more I realized that yes, this really does need to thrown away.

I hate starting things over but in this case I think it’s for the best. It makes me a bit sad to think of all the work I put into it going to waste, but then again, so much time has passed that it doesn’t really matter much anymore. One good thing was that I had created digital copies of the pattern and tooling pattern, which already cut out a lot of work.

So, version 2 has been started, beginning with correcting my lopsided re-sculpted saddle tree. Since the tree was the Problem originally I figured I would start with covering that first.

It’s um… kind of weird.

But it’s a start, even with it’s weirdness. And it’s created more Problems. My pattern is way off. I’m having to readjust everything, which in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t discover when I first started working on this four years ago.

One thing I haven’t had to re-work much are the fenders, so here they are right now. I haven’t done any tooling in four years so I can’t say that I’ve improved there. I also don’t understand why my first attempt at it had to be such a complicated pattern but whatever.
These were created a day apart and there’s a lot of difference between the two. (or is that just me?) I think that has to do with the tools I’m learning to use and just practice/trying to figure it out.

I can say that I really like the stitched detail. For those wondering, it’s paint. I don’t think it’s possible to actually stitch something that tiny, and I’m not eager to try it out.

So yes… this is where I’m at with the saddle right now. I’m taking it slow and not pressuring myself to make it perfect. It’s not going to be perfect and maybe not even “good” but that’s ok. I haven’t made enough saddles to consider myself “good” at making them, and who knows if I’ll ever get to that point.

I do want to mention that on Mares in Black‘s most recent podcast, I was really inspired by what I believe Kylee Parks said about customizing: to just go for it and figure it out. I don’t customize but it still struck a chord with me. Saddles intimidate me because I don’t know how to figure them out, but the only way I will is if I just go for it and keep practicing. So uh, thanks for that.

Hopefully I won’t have to re-start this one in 2023…

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