Who is the person who makes horse saddles?
You may be about to purchase your first saddle, or you may sit on one every day without a second thought as to who actually made it. So, let’s find out who made your saddle as it’s rather interesting!
Saddles are made by a Saddler or a Master Saddler
What is a Master Saddler?
Master saddlers are highly trained, exceptionally skilled, and qualified people with incredible attention to detail. They can make and repair saddlery and harness items. They are required to hold level 3 City & Guilds saddlery qualifications, and to have been in the trade for a minimum of 7 years. Their work also needs to undergo a thorough inspection.
Interestingly, one of today’s most iconic fashion brands was started by a Master saddler in Florence, Italy in 1921. You may recognise the name …. Guccio Gucci. He decided to branch out and found a company designing and making leather goods and luggage which developed into the brand we know today.
Saddlers have undergone the same level of training as a Master Saddler, but don’t have the required 7 years’ experience in the trade.
But back to what they actually do.
The Saddler or Master Saddler is someone who works meticulously, using traditional methods and tools with enormous attention to detail to make saddles, equestrian leatherwork, and harnesses.
They are responsible for pattern cutting. That means they measure and cut the pieces of leather that are ultimately pieced together to make your saddle. They also need to know how to treat and handle the leather.
Working mostly from a workbench, they need to have excellent machine and hand stitching skills in order to stitch the saddle together, or repair items of saddlery. Alongside the traditional methods they employ, they can also be involved with CAD design to create patterns for bespoke items.
As well as the above, your saddle maker also needs to have good communication and people skills. They usually need to visit clients to measure the horse and rider and discuss the rider’s preferences such as leather colour, and overall design. Oh, and it also helps enormously if they are comfortable around horses!
Some may also offer a saddle fitting service. So once the saddle is made they can visit to make sure all is well – but more importantly, visit every now and then in the future to check on the general health of your saddle. They will make any adjustments as necessary such as re-flocking.
Skilled saddle makers know that the saddle has to be comfortable for both horse and rider. Obviously, horses vary enormously in size and shape and that is why saddle makers will have a number of different styles of trees to build a bespoke saddle from.
As mentioned before, saddlers may work for themselves or, for an equestrian firm. Some saddlers will make basic saddles that can be adjusted for a range of horses and riders rather than making bespoke ones. These might be sold in riding centres or tack shops. As well as being experts in the making of saddles, they must have a full understanding of the proper use and care of saddles and be able to pass this on to riders.
If you’d like to see a saddler at work, search for it online. You’ll find several videos to watch. It’s worth doing to see the work involved in making your saddle!