Friday, August 31, 2018

Diary of a Western Pleasure saddle

Earlier this year, Jennifer Scott commissioned Evelyn Munday to make her a 1:9 scale replica of an extremely ornate and complicated Harris Western pleasure saddle. Most model tack makers - myself included - would have passed on this one. Designs this intricate just don't lend themselves to miniaturization.
Unless, of course, you're Evelyn Munday!

I saw the saddle in person for the first time Monday, and I was absolutely blown away by the level of detail. 

"How did she do this?" I asked, not really expecting an answer. 

"Hold on," Jenn said. "I can show you."

Then she pulled up her chat conversation with Evelyn that detailed nearly every step of the saddle's construction. 

I took one look and said. "This is a blog post.

Fortunately, both Jenn and Evelyn agreed.
Today's guest post is the creation story of Jenn's saddle. Thank you so much, Evelyn, for allowing me to share your words and photos here.

Diary of a Western Pleasure Saddle

by Evelyn Munday

April 6: Hi Jennifer! I think I can make a saddle similar to that, but those tiny flowers are really going to be a real challenge. I'm going to give it a try on a test piece and see if it's possible.

 April 17: I just want to touch base with you. I haven't started on the saddle yet, but I've played with different patterns for the black areas. I think I know how to do it.

April 19: Here is the test piece I worked on yesterday. I like the right side better, but I'm still refining it.
April 20: Hi Jennifer. I just finished carving and dying the upper skirt . It turned out way better than I thought it would. I really didn't think I could do this part, but I was determined to get it close as possible. The design is carved by hand and the black areas were done with USMC dye.
April 23: Here is an update on the saddle. I'm just about done with the pattern. I will trace it onto vellum, then do the tooling. This type of saddle takes a while to do. I hope you like what I have done so far.
April 26: Got a little more done today. Here is traced onto the vellum and traced again onto the cased leather.
April 30: Hi Jennifer. Here is one of the fenders. I'm working on the other side now, but I wanted to share this with you.
May 1: I finished this one last night. Now you can see the floral detail.
 May 2: 😃😃😃
May 11: I have tooled the swells. I still need to cover the horn with silver foil and seal it.
May 12: I'm slowly but surely getting there. It seems like it's taking forever, but I am happy with how it is turning out.
May 13: I did some corner plate work today. I still have the left side to do. My silver work is aluminum sheeting, engraved by hand. 
May 14: I'm ready to do the cantle plate. Do you want one piece or three?  
May 16: I just finished the stirrup pieces!
May 18: Hi Jennifer! Here is another update for you. I'm almost done with your saddle. I just have the billets, cinch and headstall left.
May 18: Billets and cinch are done. This saddle is ready to go home.
Thank you again to both Jenn and Evelyn for making this post possible. I can not tell you how much I enjoyed being allowed to watch this saddle come together!


  1. My jaw is somewhere down by my feet... wow!!

  2. My word. Evelyn is a treasure.

  3. She takes saddle making to a whole new level...I am speechless.

  4. I own and show in a Harris saddle. This work is AMAZING!! Just as much a work of art as the full size!!

  5. Just WOW. I would even want to put a doll on whatever setup this is going in purely due to the extreme detail

  6. It really is a tackmaking pleasure to work with a customer as closely as that. Thank you both for sharing - and that black net is amazing!!

  7. Gobsmackingly wonderful, as Evelyn's work always is - she's always raising the bar. One day, I promise myself, I will own one of her saddles!

  8. Amazing work! I would love to own one her pieces someday.

  9. I've always wondered- is there a tool that does the miniature scalloping around the conchos/base of the horn/etc., or is that (somehow!) done by hand?