Friday, February 7, 2014

A saddle repair post

I got this little saddle last spring. It needed a repair to the rigging, and I'm just now feeling confident enough in my skills to get around to fixing it. A guy at the barn is looking for a saddle for his granddaughter to grow into, and I think this one might be just the ticket.

I made a patch to repair the rigging, making sure to match the original stitching holes onto the patch, which is not easy!

Stitching is not complete in this picture! 
It's funny how you can start out with a simple idea and then it just snowballs into a huge undertaking. After I patched the rigging, I decided that I should take off the skirt of the saddle to make a pattern for the new fleece I plan to sew on. Once I got the skirts off, I thought it would be a good idea to deconstruct the whole saddle so I could clean and oil each part front inside and outside. Then it would be a real renovation, plus good practice for any saddle I may want to take apart in the future. So I did that.

And that's when I found out the tree (the wooden frame of the saddle) had a chip cracked off it. Dave assured me that epoxy would make it as strong as ever, so that's getting glued and clamped before I put everything back together.

I washed each piece of the saddle with Ivory soap and warm water, then oiled them with pure neatsfoot oil. After letting them rest and absorb for the night, I began working in a light application on Lexol leather treatment morning and evening. After three days, they're looking pretty good!

Top : after washing and 3 days of conditioning; Bottom, filthy nasty piece not done yet.

The guy's granddaughter is only four, and though she has long legs for a little girl, they're still much shorter than the average adult's. I decided to try my hand at making half-size stirrup leathers. The seat on this saddle is only about 13-14 inches. I figure she can use the shorter stirrups now, then swap them for the original ones, and conceivably use this saddle into her teens. I didn't have leather stamps that exactly matched the saddle, but I found some that were similar enough. In the picture they need another application of dye, but you can see that the style and pattern is a pretty decent match.

It'll take another few months before I get this done. I work on it in between other projects and it's particularly cold right now to be out in the garage (even with the space heater running) so don't expect any finished project pictures of the saddle soon. But someday!

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