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garlicbunny 03-25-2013 08:27 AM

making your own saddle??
I was looking at some saddlemaking you tubes last night. I am thinking about the possibility of trying this, of course I would order a kit of trees to start with for the "perfect tree" for the horse.

This idea started after watching a RFD program on Clinton Anderson and Martin Sadderly, it is just step by step and didn;t look terribly hard. (after getting the leather, tree etc.

Does anyone know how much is really involved and how hard it really is? I know it wouldn't look as good but have any of you done this and please show your pictures here.. I know this may be a hairbrained idea but it sounds kinda of fun..Thanks ya all!

Saddlebag 03-25-2013 12:22 PM

Get the book by Dusty Johnson in Loveland Colorado. Dusty includes a lot of need to know info. Don't buy your hide from Tandy but thro a reliable supplier. Join as there is a ton of info. There are even people who will answer your questions. When I built my saddle on a course I used an existing pattern but one still needs to know where to place various pieces on the hide. This is extremely important to not only get the best use of the hide but that you best utilize the strength of various parts. Dusty's book shows placement. It's still an expensive item to screw up so. Advertise for derelict saddles that you can dismantle. That will teach you a lot. You will need about $200 worth of tools to make your work a little easier. Good luck.

garlicbunny 03-25-2013 06:15 PM

LOL, I expected to be laughed at, and told I was crazy for thinking about wanting to do this! Thank you so much Saddlebag for your support. I will look the book up and website.. I think it's pretty cool that might be possible. How many have you made and would love to see a pictures.

On the show they told us what parts are used for specific area's of the saddle so I know what you are talking about.

How hard was it and would you do it again? thanks a ton!

Saddlebag 03-25-2013 11:01 PM

Cutting the leather is tough on the hands and takes some muscle. Some prefer to use a head knife shaped in a half round, some use a linoleum knife. And one needs to know how to sharpen them. At one time people could order kits from the manufacturers. The tree was sent and all the leather was cut out for the customer who assembled the saddle. Something I will advise you to start with is to learn how to stitch with two needles. You can find it on youtube. Unlike a chain stitch, each end of the thread is passed thro a needle. A needle is passed thro the hole, then pulled toward you the the other needle is passed thro the same hole and both threads are tightened. Should at some time one of the threads break the other will continue to hold whereas a chain stitch by a machine will unravel. This works well on saddlehorns. Also learn how to clean saddles as there is a market for that especially if you can restitch a horn or part of a skirt. My work is mainly repair and it's gratifying to see a saddle go out the door looking much better than when it came in.

boots 03-25-2013 11:41 PM

Go for it!

I have a few friends that make saddles and just from listening to them, I think they would agree with what Saddlebag has recommended. I think all of them are on, too.

garlicbunny 03-26-2013 08:24 AM

I got on the sites you recommended Saddlebag. I was wondering about stitching the saddle, I am glad to hear it can be done by hand. I have registered on the Leatherworks site. I was impressed by the saddles I did see and also realize it will be hard and the first one will be more like an experiment. My husband agreed that we would do this together. Not sure when we would do this..much research first. Thank you both so much! Hubby thought we might start with something easier first, I think thats a good idea, maybe a halter or a horn bag or something. :)

Can't afford a 650.00 tree that I found, any suggestions on where to purchase or rent a kit of nice wood but economical trees?

Saddlebag 03-26-2013 08:42 AM

A tree shouldn't cost that much. Did you check out the suppliers on leatherworkers. There's nothing to stop you from using the tree from a derelict saddle providing it's sound. You should learn how to dismantle a saddle first. I ran an online add for derelict english saddles strictly for dismantling to see what we can't see when it's assembled. That was a huge eye opener as one was a low end and the other high end. Both had broken trees, the low end broke because of it's poor quality. The high end gave out after about 50 years of jumping.

TackJack 03-27-2013 12:01 PM

Just a thought for you - you might call Ralide ( and ask to buy their model or miniature tree. It's only a few bucks and they'll send you a mini tree and stirrups.

The saddle is about the size for a very small dog.

It's more of a "craft" idea but it might be a cheap way to get some practice in before you drop more money into the project.

garlicbunny 03-27-2013 09:00 PM

Both great ideas! tackjack, I always thought those teenie tiny saddles were awfully cute! Wouldn't be out to much on that practice run.

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