Thursday, January 29, 2009

Three cool things about my saddles

I'll be the first one to tell you that my saddles aren't perfect. I try and I try, but there are always things that don't quite turn out the way I want them to. Sometimes it's a design issue, and I'm forever adjusting patterns, trying to make them just a little bit better. Other times it's the execution that's lacking. Every now and then I think I might have it all worked out, only to discover that fixing one thing has brought new problems to light. It's a ongoing process and sometimes a very frustrating one. Because of that, I occasionally need to step back and remind myself that even if they aren't perfect, my saddles aren't all bad without their good points. Today has been a rather long and frustrating day at the workbench, so instead of dwelling on what I can't do, I'm going to show you three things I like about my saddles.

If you've poked around in other people's tack boxes as much as I have, you've probably seen saddles stored around toilet paper tubes. The main purpose for this is to train the saddle's flaps to stay in a curved shape and lie flat against the model's sides. It's a cheap and effective way to do that, but something about the toilet paper tube seems so wrong to me... I just had to come up with a better way to get that shape.

This is what I came up with--I place a hidden wire in the small roll of leather that runs down the front of the flaps. This allows the saddle to maintain its shape without any special "training". In this picture the wire is holding the flap up and out.Since that's probably not the look you're going for, here's how to change it. Pinch the front of the flap with your fingers and gently bend the wire into the desired position. You can also do this while the saddle is on the horse. Ta da! The flaps on this brand new saddle hug the horse's sides, and you will not need to keep toilet paper tubes in your tack box!I am happiest when my model tack closely mirrors real tack in all particulars. However, sometimes less really is more. I used to put buckles on my stirrup leathers, but I didn't like the extra bit of bulk they put under the skirt. Now I use a different method that reduces bulk while allowing for adjustment.

To shorten your leathers, gently pull down on the free end.You can lengthen the leathers by pulling on the backside of the piece that loops through the iron.
The third thing I like about my saddles is that they're tough. Like the great tackmaker Susan Bensema-Young, I value the "playability" factor. I don't think you should have to worry about breaking things every time you use them. My saddles are built on a metal tree that is both strong and flexible. The interior sections are both glued and sewn together. Likewise, the padded flaps are secured with glue and thread, as are the pressure points on the girth. I'm sure it's possible to break a Braymere saddle, but I think you'd have to work at it a bit!
So that's today's happy list. Tomorrow I'll be right back at the impossible pursuit of perfection.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I admit, I keep my saddles on tubes, but not TP tubes! I use small paint rollers, the ones for the smallest size, about 2 or 3 inches long or so, they work great!