Friday, March 16, 2012


I got frustrated yesterday when my SBY tack guide didn't arrive in the mail. (c'mon, posties!) So instead I (finally) cracked open my classic Western saddle kit from Rio Rondo.

Officially, this is, or will be, my second Western saddle. The first was a traditional one from the kit, that I will probably soon pull to pieces for parts, rather than keep for prosperity. But I figured, for the sake of the blog, I should at least take a photo of saddle #1.

Number two is under way. After outlining the pieces, I decided to be adventurous and and try my hand at adding stitch marks around the edge, and adding a straight line to section off the stitch marks.

Knowing my wonderful skill of managing to drive the stitchmarker off the edge of the leather instead of on a straight line, I used the tool before cutting out the pieces, and it worked mostly well. Did have trouble manoeuvring it around the tight corners of the jockeys, but you know.

The line work was not so successful.I had a lot of trouble trying to keep the awl point close to the stitch marks. It wanted to veer off on its on multiple times! And when I could get it close on one piece, on another it insisted on staying a further distance away. I don't know if it's the handle (it's a bit difficult to hold) or just my usual unco-ness :P

On the first kit, I had trouble with the skiver for the shoulder swells; I cut the hole WAY too big.  I'm pleased to say that this time it came out much better - only a smidgen too big, and you can really only tell when you look at it closely. Yay! But the good part is that it's amazing the difference that little bit of detail makes.

I wanted to deviate a little from the kit, and so I put in swinging fenders, which I learned from adding them to my you-finish-it Kirsteen Haley saddle, and tried for the first time to put in cinch billets that came from a ring, as opposed to set in the skirt. It all looked fine, until I put it on a horse and buckled it up. Um, the billets are WAY too far back! And the fenders are too far forward!

I've moved them both, but now the skirt has a lovely hole where the original billets were (mostly hidden by the fenders at least).

At some point I got excited and added some stamped decoration (my friends are rolling their eyes right now). I picked up this little stamp, Z2610, while at Equitana last year. I think it came from Mac Lace, as I found their product catalogue in my mountains of paper that came back with me. Doesn't it look great? I added a single skirt to the upper skirt too. They are probably a touch big for classic scale but oh well. Stars!

For the stirrups I used two pieces of 4.5mm roo lace, and used Shannon's stirrup construction guide found here. No aluminium tape so I used a little lace to hold the pins together, and I think the two-pin method makes for a cleaner finish on the stirrup. (Even if it is on the inside where no one will see...) I also added little star conchos from TWMHC on the outside of the stirrup too. :)

So that's where I finished up last night.

I came in from work today, all excited to start, and realised I'd forgotten something important. Any guesses?

D-rings, of course! (And rear cinch tabs too, but shh.)

So I added in the d-rings, and then started to attempt assembly so I could work out where to put the rear cinch tabs. And then...

Uh oh! This isn't good!

I don't know how I managed to screw this part up. So now it's sitting all the way over there while I write this post, alternately glaring at Felice and trying to imagine how I can fix it.

(The skirts match the patterns (the upper skirt is longer by 1mm) but still...! I might have to make a new lower skirt. :( Would get rid of those holes under the fender, I suppose...)


  1. You need to bring the whole tree forward, it shouldn't be that far from the front of the lower skirt. I think if you bring it forward you will have enough space at the back.

    1. Thanks, Lauren! Is this far enough forward?

      Adding in the upper skirt doesn't look great, though:

      Should I trim the inside of the upper skirt?

  2. Yes that looks much better, and don't be afraid to trim that upper skirt to make it fit. Some western saddles have pretty short skirts especially to suit short back breeds like arabs. Just make sure you have enough room at the front to fit a small concho and pin. I'm just looking at my own classic scale saddle made by Des Corbett and the lower skirt is 48mm long (this would have used the rio rondo tree too). How does that length compare to yours? The upper skirt is only about 2mm shorter than the lower skirt. Hope that helps!