Generally speaking, mass production and high quality miniature leatherwork don't go hand in hand, so I was curious to see how my somewhat complicated designs would translate into a forty dollar product.
In fact, I was so pleased with Breyer's efforts, I thought it would be fun to get a couple extra sets and tweak them to see if I could push them all the way to live show quality. I said as much as much in the comments section of a blog post, and magically, two sets appeared on my doorstep. Woo hoo!
I planned to dig into them right away, but then life got really busy. The Breyer tack got set aside and eventually was forgotten. I tripped over it while cleaning my studio recently and decided better late than never. I opened the polo set and got to work, starting with the saddle.Without a doubt this is the least LSQ part of the set. The saddle has no tree, so it is very soft and squishy. To make matters worse, this particular saddle was extremely asymmetrical.
I wanted to take the saddle apart entirely, but the rivets in the front make that impossible. Instead, I peeled back the skirts and carefully trimmed them in a way to downplay their unevenness. I also removed the blobby glue and treated all the edges with gum tragacanth and brown Edge Kote.
I removed the stirrup leathers and carefully skived them to reduce the bulk. I also treated them with gum tragacanth. The leather used throughout this set is very soft and prone to fuzzy edges. By the time I was done with this project, every single piece except the metal parts and browband had been treated with gum tragacanth.
I removed the stirrup leathers' buckles and replaced them with a simpler, no buckle construction. This was done to cut down on bulk and give the saddle a smoother, more polished appearance. The stirrups are still adjustable.
Although I hadn't planned to replace any of the hardware, I did end up swapping out the buckles on the girth. It's just so much easier to saddle a model with hole punched billets and nice, big, roller, tongue buckles!
Here's the finished saddle.
Compare it to the original finish version. As you can see, the main difference is the cleaner, smoother, dyed edges. I did also remove the little strip of leather that was glued to the back of the cantle.
On to the breastplate!I removed all the buckles, scraped away the old glue, skived, treated each piece with gum tragacanth and re-glued. Here's the before...
and here's the after.
While not as polished as my usual custom work, I'm pleased with the finished breastplate. It's not tip top live show quality, but it doesn't scream play tack either.
The martingale and bridle were more of the same. I removed the hardware, skived, treated and re-glued each piece.
However, the bridle presented some additional challenges due to leather damage.
Instead of using leather dye, which can be hard to control, I decided to paint the affected area with Edge Kote.
That was a good decision. The strap looks almost as good as new.
Since the bridle was in pieces anyway, I also swapped out the bit rings and added a silver bead for the mouthpiece.
I'm not going to kid you about this: It took a lot of time, patience and skillful skiving to rebuild this bridle. I probably could have made a new one with less effort. Still, I am pleased with the results. Compare it...
to the straight-from-the-box version. The difference is pretty obvious!This was an interesting challenge. Thank you for your patience, Mackenzie. I hope you are pleased with the (long overdue) results!