Saturday, December 18, 2010


Look what I got in the mail last Friday!

It's my super gorgeous classic Western saddle by the brilliant and talented Erin Corbett!

Just look at all that gorgeous detailing. I regret not ordering a bridle to go with it - I thought I could make a nice bridle to go with it, but now I'm not so sure. The saddle even has adjustable fenders.

The saddle pad is 'army green' by Carrie Sloan Meyer, who kindly agreed to ship it to Erin who then made matching wear leathers for the set.

It's pictured on Felice, whose colouring is not so flattering to the saddle, but it was made for my orange pony Delta who, at the time of these photos, was still in transit back from LITW the previous weekend.

I do want to order another Erin saddle, hopefully next year sometime. I want a sparkle saddle, maybe with a coloured star cut out on the lower skirt. Pretty!

Fast forward a week.

Delta and co arrived back from LITW on Monday, so now I had no excuse not to make a bridle for the Erin saddle. I ummed and ahhed over a design, and really wanted to go with this bridle:

but since I only have two sizes of nail heads in stock, I can't yet work on this style. (I have some 3mm one son order but am still waiting for them to arrive.) I think the concho style on the cheekpieces would suit the saddle as the only silver on it is round conchos. I probably wouldn't put conchos on the browband like in the picture though.

So instead I decided to use some of the other nailheads that arrived recently - the tear drop style. I had seen this style used before but of course couldn't find the reference picture when I needed it, so had to experiment a little before I settled on a design I liked. This is what I ended up with:

I am REALLY thrilled with how this bridle has turned out. The tear drops turned out wonderfully and work well with TWMHC's 1.5mm nailheads. I did think about putting silver tips on the crown but felt that it would be too overwhelming. The saddle is understated in its silver and the bridle should be too.

I used different buckles on this bridle. I usually use the Rio Rondo etched Western buckles, but since I received some cast buckles in a recent purchase, I felt this would be a good time to try them. (I had bought a set of these buckles previously, but at the time I didn't know they had to be polished to bring out the detail.) The keepers are my silver lace, as is the browband (which possibly could be a little longer).

Here is the whole set on Delta, who it was originally made for.

I think she and Skye (above) may be fighting over who gets to she it at the next live show!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

EQ2010 - Driving Obstacles - Singles

Driving is always exciting to watch. This particular event was obstacles - a course made up from pairs of cones to be driving through, and one or two upright obstacles. All obstacles (cones included) have knock-downs - balls placed on top that fall down if knocked. Like in show jumping, faults or points (or time penalties, I can't remember) are given for each ball knocked down. There is also a time limit. Some events split the sizes, but for this particular event the ponies were in with the horses.

Failed project #748

After Christmas shopping a couple of days, I arrived home just as it started to bucket down with rain. It had been a horrible, sticky and humid morning, so the rain was a great relief - and perfect for tack making.

I bummed around for a bit, fiddling with unfinished projects in the too-hard basket, couldn't find anything interesting, and so moved on to the Jennifer's Buxton's English girth tutorial. Except I decided to mix it up a little and not put elastic in.

We all know I can't cut straight to save my life, so a shaped girth (which I have always admired) would be a pretty difficult test for me.

First up, I gathered my tools. Since my leather range is pretty limited, I used a piece of my lace leather offcut for the insert, and glove leather as the skiver. The skiver is a pain in the bum as it doesn't like most glue, I think because it is waterproofed by the tannery it comes from. It sort-of works with Tarzan's grip (a glue I have a love-hate relationship because it tends to go stringy), but only on the underside, so I brought along some super glue (Selley's Quick Fix super glue gel) just in case, as that stuff sticks to anything.

Next came the pattern. My 'home' scale is classic - I just feel more comfortable working in this scale - so I had to design this freehand. I took one of the girths off a Robyn saddle and measured that for length and width, and scribbled (okay, folded and marked) where i thought the curves should begin and end. I didn't (and still don;'t) have any idea, if the proportions are right, but who cares! It's only a practise piece. ;)

I traced the pattern onto the lace leather and cut it out and shaped it, doing my best to make sure the edges are rounded and not vaguely pointy like they always seem to end up with me. Following Jennifer's tutorial, next came the skiver outer. (FYI, Jennifer, if you're reading this, I think there is a step missing in your tutorial. There's a picture with the gum trag, but no description of what to do with it.) Here's where I encountered my first problem. After gluing on the base to the inside of the skiver, I didn't really wait long enough for the glue to dry before folding over the edges, so I couldn't pull it tight. I also think this skiver is too thick, which made the curve not as obvious as it should have been.

While waiting for the skiver to dry, I used the original pattern to cut out the display bit that goes on the outside. Of course, since the skiver made such a different to the shape of the girth, the pattern no longer fit, so I had to round off the edges free hand so it would fit.

My next problem was how to affix the outer pretty section to the skiver edges. Experience tells me that the skiver does not like Duco cement or Tarzan's Grip, so something else was in order. I tried Selley's Craft Glue, but like the Duco Cement, it peeled right off. Something drastic was in order, so out came the super glue. I applied it to the backside of the pretty piece and attached it to the skiver, trying not to glue my fingers to the project.  The downside of the super glue is that it caused the girth to completely stiffen up - albeit in a curved fashion as would fit around a horse's barrel, but still!

I decided to stop here since the project was obviously not able to be rescued, and didn't bother with buckles.  While fiddling with the girth today I did find that by stretching the girth, the glue broke a little inside and it's not so stiff any more, but I don't think super glue is the appropriate type to use with this skiver. So either I need to look into different glues (again), or try and find a different skiver (again).

One step forward, one step back

This halter is really starting to annoy me. I made the changes I had mentioned in my other post that I thought would fix the problem with the wonky cheek pieces (longer noseband, and fixed my leadrope fail too), and even added in an adjustable throatlatch, as I thought that may have been part of the problem. But see for yourself.

The left side looks okay...

But the right side is still wonky!

I have a couple of theories. One, the throatlatch is part of the problem. I used a thicker gauge wire than I normally do (26 gauge), as I think the 26 gauge makes too-thin a roll for traditionals. The wire I did use is some kind of household wire as that's all I had, but as well as being thicker, it's also stiffer and harder to bend. So there are two problems with this. It's difficult to refit to the horse's head, and obviously isn't as flexible.

The other issue with the throatlatch in general is that I'm beginning to think it is just a touch too long. I did make the throatlatch, cheekpieces (with three tubes) and noseband when I only had Ideal to use as a model, so I think that is part of the reason the thrlatch is too long as Ideal has a bit of a chunky head.

My other theory is that when I did the beading on this bridle, the bottom row on the right side came out a bit looser, which is why it hangs that way when it's on the horse. Bah!

I'm getting so frustrated with this halter. I think I will put it in the too-hard basket and move on from it.

Look what I got in the mail yesterday!

More supplies - finally! Not quite sure what Aus Post quarantine found so scary in there, since the other things quarantine doesn't like is animal and plant products. Maybe it was the paper? :P For what it's worth, quarantine doesn't seem to like the UK - I've ordered from there a few times and had packages opened. Oh well - the important bit is that they didn't remove anything - I would have raised fuss if they did!

This is the ebay order of hotfix nailheads, which included a few various sizes. As well as the ubiquitous round nailheads, I also picked up some square (pictured on the beaded halter above), tear drop and rectangle ones.

I am still waiting for another nailhead from the UK (different seller), and wonder if that too has been caught up in quarantine...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Beaded Western show halter

So, let's take a break from the pretty ponies at Equitana to have a look at my latest project. This is a beaded halter, using those sterling silver beads I found on eBay and that I mentioned a few posts down. I had originally made this with three tubes on the cheek pieces, but when I tried the then partially-completed halter on Lady Phase, it was clear that I had made it way too big. So out came the needle and thread and I completely redid the cheek pieces with two tubes. (I don't have pictures of the in-between halter, so this is the finished piece as of today)

I also had to redo the crownpiece to be shorter than the working one I had been using most of the time. Looking at these pictures (there has been no adjustment or movement between the two pictures), I can see some other areas that need work:

1) The noseband is too short, and needs to be lengthened by 5mm or so. 2) The method I am using (cotton thread) for the beaded cheek pieces isn't working - they only hold the straight line when held tightly and/or at the right angle. When not at the right angle, the beads sag. (Looking at these pictures, I wonder if it is the short noseband that is affecting how the cheek pieces are sitting.) I also think the chain needs to be lengthened just a touch, too.

So I think my next attempt will be with wire instead of thread for the beads. I've no idea how this will hold up - more super glue may be in order.

Dan is at a live show with Riff Raff and some of my proxies today. To keep my mind off it I decided I should probably take my new camera for a proper spin and try some pony pictures. The only model of mine that really needs pictures at the moment is my Far Ute Keno. (I'm keeping the mare from the set, but she is being proxied by Dan at the moment.) Since Keno fits my classic QH mare bridles, I was hoping he would fit the halter too, but no such luck. So three hours later, he finally has a halter.

This halter also has something new - an adjustable connector strap under the head. This was way easier to construct that I thought (I thought it was more like a barcoo bridle cheek piece, but this is just your normal two-piece buckle and strap) so I think all of my Western halters from now on will have one.

In other news, look at what arrived in the mail the other day.

Another hobbyist on MHSP is getting out of the hobby and selling off their supplies. Look at all those classic bits! (I will be going back for her traditional etched bits too.) And as for the saddle tree and stirrups... Well, I'm not quite ready to get into saddle-making yet, but I am building up my supplies for when I am! (Next on the purchase list: paperwork from the Rio Rondo saddle kits)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Riff Raff!

So this is Dan's gorgeous Rose Reiner named Riff Raff, who I made boots and reins for last week. He's wearing a lovely Pam Perkins Western saddle and bridle (temporary longer reins by me), splint boots by Robyn McCrae, and no-turn bell boots (which turned before the picture was taken, hehe) by me. There are also skid boots that I made which may or may not be worn in the final set up. (Click the picture for a much bigger version)

This is all for a live show in WA this weekend (which Dan is also proxying a few of my horses at), so I have high hopes Riff Raff will do well!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

EQ2010 - Mounted Games

Omg omg omg. Mounted games are one of my favourite events to watch, particularly at a place like Equitana. To get the crowd involved, they play lots of pumping, active music on the PA and have an enthusiastic commentator, and of course they encourage lots of yelling and cheering! With those ponies flying along like crazy rockets and riders vaulting on and off with speed, it's impossible to get excited. (Note: LOTS of pics below the cut!)

EQ2010 - Driving to Music

Imagine some pretty music while you look through these pictures!

Friday, November 26, 2010

EQ2010 - Breed Parade

The Breed Parade was a half-hour session showcasing a member of a number of different breeds in the outdoor arena. Some horses were led in-hand, and some were ridden. As each horse entered, a small amount of information was read out about the breed. (We saw a full parade and the tail of another, so there may be a couple of different representatives of some breeds.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Equitana 2010

I haven't dropped dead from exhaustion after Equitana, I promise, though I am thoroughly sunburnt. I've just been so busy catching up with work that I haven't really had time to do anything productive tack-wise. I lie, I made some emergency Western skid boots and no-turn bell boots last night for a friend's live show entry next week, but I didn't even get pictures for the blog! Hopefully she will be a good friend and send me pictures after I hassle her every day.

So, Equitana report. The weather was ridiculously Melbourne (rainy, then sunny; wash, rinse, repeat all day Thursday, then 24 degrees C and rising over Friday, Saturday and Sunday). We ended up seeing at least a bit of every event except the polo (the area they used wasn't big enough so they weren't going fast and I got bored...) and horseball (sick of the stupid heat by that stage). I'll split the events into different posts, but my reports will take a while as I have 1800-odd photos to go through... I'm used to, oh, 500 or so with my dinky point-and-shoot!

My new camera is a Nikon D40X DSLR, which is much bigger and fancier than my current Fuji s1000fd. I've only had a brief play with tack photos with the Nikon and it's not too happy about them, so I guess the Fuji will be sticking around for a bit.

To keep you going until the next post, here's some bad pictures of the girth I made for Rosie's saddle; the girth that came with the saddle originally was far too short. The girth is by Robyn McCrae, and the doll is a Heidi Ott doll customised by Lori Batchelor. (Ignore Felice just chillin in the back!)

Next up I have a couple of bridles to work on - Rosie's bridle, and the bridle I made a while ago for Lisa's classic Whisper resin.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More mail!

So the other night I bummed around on eBay for a while, and accidentally bought a whole heap of hot fix nailheads in different sizes. Oops. :) I bought round gold and silver nailheads in 2mm, 3mm and 4mm, those 7mm rectangles I mentioned in another post, some 3mmx3mm squares, and some small tear drops.

I still need to find someone with 5mm round ones, and when I order from TWMHC I'll order some of their 1.5mm and 2.5mm ones as well. With all those sizes I think I should be covered for everything for 'conchos' through to 'rosettes' on browbands.

The 3mm squares should be a perfect fit for traditional beaded Western halters, like this one I'm working on:

The squares will go on each end of the cheek pieces, like in this picture:

I'm pleased with how this halter has come out, though I do wish I had a model to try it on! I've heard that ISHs have a small head, so for now this halter will stay with me until I either get an ISH or I get measurements to compare the halter to. Looking at the picture, it's actually a bit big for Ideal, so I think it will be huge on anyone else. :(

In other tack news, yesterday I got mail from the super lovely Robyn McCrae. I'd sent her Rosie so she could make her a little saddle for hacking, leadline and maybe games. Rosie is a drastic custom Merrylegs, so measurements just wouldn't cut it for a good fit. Isn't she just adorable, all tacked up? I can't wait to start taking pictures in her new set ups.

Robyn's parcel also included a saddle for my Mozart resin. I love the colour on him, and the saddle is really cute. The girth is a touch too big though, so I will need to make him another.

Lastly, today I received my Far Ute Keno set from the US. These are the stock horses I mentioned in another post. After some quick tack sessions...

I determined that Keno looks best with the black Western saddle (a Robyn piece, as is most of my collection), and promptly made him a matching bridle.

I tried something new with the browband, I really like the look of metal silver earpieces, but of course no one makes them in classic scale. I did attempt to make one from wire, and made a loop at the end for the crownpiece to pass through, but I had trouble achieving the square-ish shape that real browbands have for the crownpiece loop.

With the one above, I used 2mm silver leather and folded the centre section (tried to roll it but it turned into a fold). It doesn't look so good in the photo but it does look nice in real life. On trads I think I will use 3mm lace and try slipping in wire underneath, like I do for the throatlatches on halters, so that it can sit flat against the head.

While fiddling around with Keno, I discovered he has a neat little secret - his forelock is lifted slightly!

The bottom end is fixed to his head, so any browbands that you want to slip under will need a free end, but it should be easy enough to cut a browband in two, and slip the two ends under the forelock. Of course, any English bridles made to fit this guy will need another browband if they are to be used with another model, but it's exciting news nonetheless.

Keno has also stolen Mozart's saddle, so I suppose he will need an English bridle, too! (That's the same girth pictured with Mozart - Keno is a fatty!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Equitana 2010 and more supplies

Equitana is only five days away! My friend from interstate, Dan, will be flying over to join me. We've already started plotting out visit. Events we intend to watch are the polo and polocrosse matches, driving (obstacle singles), mounted games, horseball (!), reining, cutting, campdrafting, and a funny little class called jump and drive. It's only a half-hour session so I'm not sure how much we will see, but if it's anything like this YouTube video I found last night, I think it will be fantastic to watch.

A few days ago I received an order from ebay. I lucked out and found some tiny silver tube beads that I'm hoping to use on Western bridles and halters. I found plain 3mm silver tubes, 4mm 'threaded' silver tubes (they look kind of like a spiral or coil compressed together), and tiny 1.5mm round beads. Apparently they are sterling silver, but it's ebay, so who knows?

At first I tried to thread them onto 26 gauge wire, and while the wire fits, I wasn't sure how to fix the wire to the leather, so quickly abandoned that idea and moved onto cotton thread. By tying knots at each end, the thread is secured onto leather with super glue. Unless the thread breaks, the bridle should be pretty secure.

Here's a sample of what the plain tubes and the round beads look like on the classic loping QH:

(Ignore the ear browband; that's for a future blog post.) I'm pretty pleased with how it looks, and will be making a couple of bridles with these beads in the future. I have a couple of stock horses in the mail, so they are a perfect excuse to use these beads!

The beads should be a good size for traditionals too - here is the bridle above held against Ideal's head. (All the beads are silver; that goldy-coloured one is just reflecting something.)

I want to attempt a stock halter with a double row of beads, but am not entirely sure how to go about it. Wire was unsuccessful as mentioned above, and using two cotton threads tied together resulted in the rows being uneven. So perhaps two single threads side-by-side would be more successful?

Speaking of things found on ebay, what do you think of these?

Hot fix rectangles - name plates on halters, perhaps? They are 7mm long, so perhaps only suitable for traditionals.

And some more silver tube beads. These ones have an obvious twist to them. I'm not sure how suitable they would be for tack though - the corners might scratch a delicate paintjob.

The wonders of ebay! (I'm not addicted, really.)

Ooh, forgot one. A while ago I ordered this too-cute micro mini saddle from someone on ebay.  I wasn't overly fond of her bridles, so just went with the saddle and breastplate.

It's really adorable. My task for this set is to make an English bridle, and maybe update the breastplate and stirrups, before Mini Mania live in May next year. I've done a micro mini Western bridle before, but Western bridles are infinitely easier! For a start this bridle will use cotton instead of leather. And I'm foreseeing some kind of coloured 'elastic' breastplate, too... The saddle is by greenacresfarm4 on eBay.



My Rio Rondo order turned up! Yay! I've no idea where it's been hiding for the past three weeks, but I am relieved to have it here. Though, there is a downside of course - I have been compiling a list of my original order plus other stuff I needed, but since this order has turned up I will have to wait a little longer to order the new stuff.

Check out these cute twist beads I found hidden away on RR's sales page. I've no idea what to use them for, but I do like looking at them!

The other exciting piece of mail I received today was some 6mm grosgrain ribbon from eBay. I bought ten yards of each (that's about 9m), in royal blue, red, black and white. These should make excellent surcingles and girths for the racing saddles I intend to make in the future! Dan already has an order for a royal blue set next week. I'm wondering if I should put an elastic insert in them or not; some racing surcingles I've seen have this.

Last week I tried and tried to create a donation for a live show that's coming up in a couple of weeks, but all I could come up with was this in-hand bridle.

I think it looks super cute, but I won't give it away or sell it. I attempted using the 4.5mm lace again to make everything with tongue buckles, but I think these buckles are smaller than the D-rings, as it is damn near impossible to pull the straps through! You can see wear on the straps already, even though they have been used only a few times. It's also really obvious that the 4.5mm lace hasn't darkened after being coated with gum trag as much as the other widths of lace. Lace normally goes a bit darker, but for some reason the 4.5mm has stayed quite light.. I think the thickness of the lace also has an effect on absorption.

However, this project wasn't a total waste. I used this as an opportunity to try out an idea I saw on a bridle sold on eBay - a bit with a mullen mouthpiece. A small piece of leather is wrapped around the bit, instead of a crimp, to form the mouthpiece. From a distance it looks really cute, although close up you can tell it is just leather, as it isn't rounded. May look into black nickel crimps if I want to try this again in the future, as the leather and sticky wax do not cooperate. (I find this with reins too - sticky wax can only be used on the underside to hold them in place. I'm not sure if that's how the leather is, or if it's treated with something that repels the sticky wax.)

There's one last new item on this bridle I wanted to show off. See that browband and noseband? They are rolled! Ever since I started making tack, rolled browbands have eluded me, for a number of reasons. The centre was never straight, the raised section would be too big or too small, or the entire thing would be covered in glue. Yet when I made these a few days ago, they were pretty successful! Now let's hope it wasn't a fluke and that I can make more in the future...

After some farting around I got off my bum and redid the show bridle with slip buckles. The only pieces that are original to the first version are the brow and nosebands, leadline and bit. (I coated the leather on the bit with super glue so that the sticky wax adheres better.

Here is the finished piece.

The show is actually on today as I write this post, so I hope it goes to someone who will get lots of use out of it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunny Sunday

Sunday seems to be tack day at the moment. The weather was gorgeous again today and after I did some washing I settled in at my desk.

First up, I felt like doing something with a bit of colour. I have also always wanted to make something entirely with tongue buckles. I haven't yet done this, as I wasn't sure what width leather to use. I've found that I need to use lace at least 2mm in width, but English bridles don't have split crownpieces like some Western bridles do. I eventually decided to take the plunge and use a piece of 4.5mm lace for the crownpiece, and just seem what happens.

 The straps are a bit tight to wrestle through the buckles, but there it is! I had some dramas over how to construct the browband and noseband - whether to go the insert route, or put black padding/piping on red - as I couldn't find any reference pics online, but with with the insert method (which is really just laying the coloured lace over the top and gluing it into position). I think the 4.5mm crownpiece is too thick, but my supplier doesn't offer 4mm widths, so I think if there are to be tongue buckle bridles in the future, they will need to be on this lace.

While I was searching for reference pics for the light breed halter above, I came across this bridle. Jana Skybova has done a bridle with metal keepers, which I have admired, but I think the double keepers on a double bridle is too much bling for me. I was pleased to find a snaffle bridle version that wasn't so loud. I have some gold-coated lace, which I have been eager to use, so this seemed the perfect opportunity to have a play!

It's not finished, as I'm not sure what to do with the browband. I think it needs padding, and some kind of gold decoration, but I'm stuck. I'm also hesitant about doing buckles on the reins as well. I might sit on it for a few days and see if I get inspired any further. I am wondering whether I should do the black second keeper like the original has, or if that will just be too much. I suppose there is one already on the throatlatch, so it couldn't hurt to finish it off in the same pattern!

In other news, my Rio Rondo order that was shipped on the 28th September is officially missing. :( It sucks, as I really needed those buckles! Not happy, Jan. I'm hoping it's just caught up in the (early?) Christmas mail, but as time goes on there's less chance of it turning up. The (vague) upside is that this is my first missing parcel in the five or so years I've been a hobbyist, so at least it wasn't a pony!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sales and new homes.

My test racing saddle from the previous post has found a new home. I originally sent it to Lisa so she could take some pics of it on Ruffian and other Breyer TBs for me, but then we agreed that since it was better than the original copy I made for her (based on her blue saddle), she may as well keep it. Yay!

Part of the deal was that she wanted a girth and surcingle in red and white to go with the red and white gaming bridle she purchased from me a little while back. This set is destined to go on a light grey CM Ruffian (who is lovely), and I bet the whole set up will just look stunning.

You can see that the surcingle buckle has a roller on it. I've attempted rollers on several occassions after reading Jennifer Bruxton's post about them, but I don't know, I must be doing something wrong. I can never seem to make the rollers actually roll when a strap is passing through. On their own they roll okay, so I'm really confused! I do find that even having a non-functioning roller on there eases the stress on the strap, so I'll definitely leave it on Lisa's surcingle. (Thought: maybe my needlenose pliers are too big to make a properly-sized tube.)

The girth came out a little bit funny with the binding around the buckle. What I did with the original black girth was take a piece of black 6mm leather and fold and glue it to both sides of the elastic end, with the buckle poking through the middle. This also provided space for the girth keeper to be attached easily.

With the red, I didn't have any red 6mm so instead I used a little piece from my dwindling collection of coloured pieces, and wrapped it around the end of the girth. As you can see it didn't leave any neat space for the keeper! Superglue was used with this girth so unfortunately it's not just a simple case of pulling the leather off and trying again - that leather is there for good! Instead I attached keepers and then glued an extra piece of leather onto the back to hide the ends. In the future I will definitely fold and glue like I did with the black leather, though.

In other news, I've been a little quiet on the post front as I've been busy making and revamping finds from my completed basket to be offered for sale. Here is one bridle that I am really pleased with:

It's a classic Western snaffle. I searched long and hard for those twisted fancy jump rings, and eventually found some sterling silver ones on ebay (also in 3mm!). Unfortunately the jump rings are quite soft and very easy to bend, so I'm not sure if I will keep using them. I'm not sure why I like it so much - perhaps it's the little 'Chicago screws' near the bit. I think they look really cute, even if they are technically a bit big.

This tack sale is to raise funds so I can purchase a whole lot of cast bits from TWMHC while the Aussie dollar is still good. 98c, yo!

There's a live show coming up in a few months in NSW that I should probably make a donation piece for, as well as LITW in WA, which I will hopefully be proxying at. A hacking bridle with ribbon browband would be nice, but I don't have any Weymouth bits in stock. It may end up being a Western bridle or halter for both. :/

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Congratulations, it's a saddle!

It's a little bit silly how thrilled I am at completing my first saddle. For a couple days' work, I am very pleased with how it came out!

I received some larger pieces of 'roo leather a couple of days ago, and so I could finally make a start on the racing saddles I had promised to friends Lisa and Dan. So, using the pictures I had from Dan of a racing slip (including underside shots!) I was able to construct a pattern (held on here by the surcingle of the other racing saddle Lisa owns).

From there came a prototype.

Here you can see the stitchmarking I attempted (on the saddle I copied this from, the stitching is white). I also tried to full binding around the entire circumference of the saddle. Unfortunately that didn't work out so well - I ended up with glue everywhere. The little cut outs that cover the stirrup bars are also wonky, since I cut them freehand.

That's where I started from this morning. Today I redrew the patterns (adding in the surcingle slots and stirrup cover things, and started afresh.

While I was hassling discussing the project with Dan, we determined that the surcingle I was borrowing from Lisa's saddle was too wide (at about 9-10mm). I had a dig around in my supply box and found some 6mm elastic, which I used to create a new girth and surcingle.

(I'm pretty sure the surcingle is on upside down. Oops!)

I also tried the binding again, but only around the important bits (the seat and the pommel). I like the finished look it gives the saddle - from the side, at least. I need to work on being more careful and making sure it goes on straight!

While I was playing with Lisa's saddle, I also determined that tongue buckles on the girth and surcingle are much easier to use when working with elastic. Slip buckles literally slip out, so tongue buckles it is - all over!

My final note for the future is that I should probably use 2mm for the stirrup leathers; of course, I didn't think of that until after I was taking pictures. Oh well!

I think that despite a few glue marks and wonkiness, it's a pretty impressive saddle for me. It should make a good photo-showing saddle, too, if I can hold off from pulling it apart to reuse the stirrups!