Monday, June 29, 2009

Rain Today, Rain Tomorrow, Rain Forever (And I'm Swimming in Saddles)

Well, June has been utterly insane, without any time to spend updating the blog - and this will just be a quickie. It seems lately that I have more projects than arms to deal with them. Wish I could afford to hire an assistant (or get a clone!).

I'm eyeballs deep in saddle work - everything from strip flocks to billets to bridle repairs to the Crosby that needed the seat seam re-sewn (which is ready to reassemble, and yes, I promise I'll blog about it). I've also been doing tons of fittings, barn calls, sales and consulting, and am setting up a bench at home so I can get my "big" repairs out of the shop and into a space where I can get to them without feeling as though I'm neglecting my saddle-buying customers.

In the personal life, there was a garden to get in, a fat-but-not-in-foal mare to cycle (the semen shipped today, so we'll breed tomorrow and Wednesday - think "foal," please!), the usual chaos that accompanies 2 sons at the end of the school year, and some major renovations on the kitchen and dining area that started with my husband innocently saying, "You know, that barn board's been up since I can remember. I wonder what's under it?" (Renovations are still ongoing, but the electricians were there today, so we can start putting up sheet rock tomorrow, and hopefully we'll be done in a week or so.)

And the rain - good grief, the rain! I feel as though we're having our own monsoon season. I don't think we've had more than 3 or 4 dry days this month, which means that haying has been delayed by over 3 weeks. And rain is forecast right through to the 4th of July, and then we'll have to wait for the fields to dry out before we can think of putting a tractor on them ... This isn't making for happy people here in the shop, since Edie's the Chief Haymaker and the rest of us help out and get our hay from her. First cut doesn't promise much, but fortunately my mare's an air fern - in case that wasn't obvious from the earlier "Is she pregnant" photos!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Seating Assignment

Some things in life take time - and re-sewing the seat seams on a saddle is one of them. On this saddle, the seat seams on both sides had come undone, the welting had cracked, and the saddle wasn't really useable. I gave the owner the option of patching the seat (a much less involved and less expensive option) or having the seams re-sewn (a much more complex repair that would cost about three times more than a patch). Given the age and condition of the saddle, I recommended a patch, but the owner wanted the seam re-sewn.

Here's the saddle when it came in:

When I say that this is a complicated process, I mean it. You have to completely deconstruct the saddle - almost everything has to be taken off the tree, one piece at a time. Here's what you wind up with:

Looks like a train wreck, I know. Here's what's acutally in the pile.

First, I dropped the panels:

Then, I removed the flaps and gullet cover:

Next I removed the welting between the panels and the cantle:

Then, off came the sweat flaps:

The hardware - falldown staples (dee rings), saddle nails and plates:

And finally, the seat:

Which left me with the tree, and the only thing I didn't have to remove: the billets.

Here are a couple more photos of the damage, which is complicated by the fact that the leather around the seam is compromised by being dry and cracked:

This is going to be a dicey, fiddly piece of work. I've conditioned the leather and have begun re-stitching the seat seams; I have to stitch it tightly enough to bring it all together, but not so tightly as to slice through the rather fragile leather. I'll post on the re-construction of the saddle, as well. It's always an adventure!