Recommended Posts

Hello All,

Here is saddle project #4 - This is a slick fork saddle I built for a friend on a Swanke tree.  Finished out at 15.5" seat.  4.5" handhole w/90 degree bars.

As per usual by this stage of project all I see is problems & mistakes.  I'd be very glad of input from other saddle makers as my goal is to improve my work continually/  My tooling is still very amateurish.  Trying to develop my own style but it seems to require a lot of practice!

Looking forward to hearing critiques and input!

saddle04-03.jpg.0965a1c7f9ae06e0b542f3a2c672a1de.jpgsaddle04-01.jpg.fce6f623e3bab0347c06b00e96cab7fb.jpgsaddle04-07.jpg.157a9a337cc26a747d6c598995c27598.jpgsaddle04-05.jpg.9c73e06ee7bc9bda6d18dc23e23bce50.jpgsaddle04-06.jpg.322a3df0f84e5cf0515f6b00a0a13251.jpgsaddle04-04.jpg.d73ca94b1e8d3db944373fcf56f10519.jpgsaddle04-02.jpg.415a913d0e6f5c93b623a45a75c6cdfa.jpg

Regards,

Ron L

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow,seems a shame to let someone use it, I would put it in a glass case in the lounge  and let visitors have a look

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don’t know anything about saddles, but I think you did a beautiful job on it!

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know saddles, either, I think it's beautiful.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your cantle binding looks amazing and I really like how your rear skirts and back jockeys go together. I'm wondering about the yellow stripe on your horn wrap though. What's the story there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the kind words.

Horsemint:  I like to use softer chap type leather for my horn wraps as I find it doesn't slick up as fast as mule hide.  This was a piece of 'butter' colored glove tan and I skived edges down to help wrap go on nice.  Unfortunate the yellow doesn't go all the way through so I ended up with this strange affect - A few days of roping in the mud & rain and this wrap will just all go greyish brown (in theory)!

R

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm another that knows nothing about saddles but that sure looks good to me. The thought of sending that out into mud and rain puts tears in my eyes...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron,

The saddle looks good, and your tooling came out good.  Gordon Andrus has an article in the last issue of the Leather Crafters Journal that talks about bar grounding.  I think you'd benefit from reading it.  I do have a couple of comments, but they are only my opinion.  I would have rounded the skirts on the inside of the rigging ring to allow for easier tying off of the latigo strap.  Your seat jockey could have been cut a little more forward (or fuller)  to cover the front rigging rings; there appears from the photos a little misalignment between the front and rear jockeys.  And, one last thought is that the center button tab maybe a little too high on the cantle.  For a straight up seat this is okay, but if you were to build a Cheyenne roll, it'll play hell fitting under the roll and installing your rosettes (been there, done that).

I can really tell that you're an individual that thinks out and designs every aspect of your project.  It shows in your work.  Really good job.

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/19/2018 at 1:35 AM, chrisash said:

Wow,seems a shame to let someone use it, I would put it in a glass case in the lounge  and let visitors have a look

Yes!!! And make them pay to have a look! :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great looking saddle Ron! It looks to have a nice seat. Also a really nice job on the taps. I'm impressed (jealous might be a better word :)) of your horn and cantle binding, the stitching came out really nice. 

Thanks for sharing!

All the best, Josh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Goldshot,

Thanks for the pointers - I find them very helpful...

Regarding Gordon Andrus bar grounding tips - Was that in this issue?  http://leathercraftersjournal.com/store/product.cfm?product=1212  If so i'll try and buy a copy.

I really debated whether to round the leather inside of the rigging rings - I was torn between making the extra room for cinching up and keeping the skirt line smooth and flowing...In the end I decided to keep the line flowing through but I still question it - Maybe on next one I will round it and see how that looks!

I agree on the seat jockey and front jockey pointers - I really wish they were deeper and that the seat jockey came forward a bit...

On the misalignment of front & rear jockeys - This is an area I struggle with because I am never 100% sure how the saddle will sit on a broad selection of horses...as some horses are downhill and some built uphill (and I don't have enough experience to feel confident in how my saddle sits on the stand).  The horse this saddle is being used on primarily turned out to hold the saddle in such a way that they lined up horizontally pretty well.  However, If i was doing this saddle again I would drop my front jockey line 3/8" - 1/2" down more than likely.

I'll keep an eye on that center button tab - I would definitely move it down if doing a cheyenne roll!!

Once again Goldshot, I appreciate the help.  I believe constructive critiques are really important to making progress.  This forum has been a hug help to me in the past and continues to be.

Josh,

Thanks for the kind words - I think I have finally found a seat shape I like - My personal saddle has a seat shaped very similar to this one and I can put in really long days riding colts and feel pretty good afterwards!

Hand stitching is something I enjoy - The secret I think is to purchase very high quality awls, keep the points sharp and have good awl handles.  For cantle bindings I had a friend turn a awl handle that is quite large - Like the size of a medium sized orange - It really helps me control the blade and reduces pressure on my palm making the stitching far easier and more comfortable - That handle alone probably improved my cantle binding stitching by 50%.

Saddle got used this past weekend and sweated up the horse good.  Swanke tree was incorrectly stated as 4.5" handhole in main description - It is a 4.25" handhole with 90 degree bars.

Regards - Ron L

Saddle4_in-use.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like a good time Ron! I must be getting old and soft, I pulled our horses shoes a few weeks back and don't plan on re-shoeing them until September. It's been HOT down here! 

Again, that's a great looking saddle! Even better looking sitting horseback!

All the best!

Josh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good looking saddle!  Really like your Taps- well done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful all round.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron,

Another fine job. I have always appreciated your tooling and think it's far from amateurish. I notice elements that you use consistently, so I guess you are developing your style. The stitching looks awesome and thanks for the awl handle description. I have been wanting something different and I like what you described. Looking forward to seeing #5.

Randy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Very Nice...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely beautiful Taps!!! Where did you get your  pattern?  Make it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice attention to detail, your beaded border looks very good.  Personally, I think the seat ear looks perfect.  If installing a Cheyenne roll, you take that into account when fitting your seat, but I like a real tight ear anyway.  I also like your tap pattern.  Very nice, it's amazing the quality of instruction we have today that allows a guy to build one like this on their 4th try.  I see guys that have built some 600 saddles and they seem to get worse with every one instead of better!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Randy, thanks for the kind words!

SaddleBags:  I bought the pattern online somewhere and just cant remember from where - After building these I'd say if I did it again I would definitely want the eagle beak part moved ahead to help the stirrups hang a bit more level!  Also, after riding this saddle I don't know if I would want taps on my personal rig!  Sure drag on everything if you get into the brush.

Big Sioux:  Thanks for the encouragement, and yes, the quality of instruction available nowadays is amazing.  Between Dale Harwood's & Jeremiah Watt's DVD's there is very little excuse to do poor work!  The other thing I have observed is that most makers these days are quite helpful.  If you can arrange it, an hour or two, in person, with some of the good makers out there can really help a guy!

Regards - Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron,

I just came across this now older post and was impressed with the photos of your saddle.  I'm hoping that these comments can still be of some use.  First off, this is an awesome saddle for #4, congratulations!  Please accept my comments knowing that you've done a lot of great stuff with this saddle.

-The skirts behind the cantle could flare upward a bit more to ensure that they don't put pressure on the horse.  Yours are close to being OK but to be safe I'd rather see a little more rise.   A saddle that is too flat here can really sore those horses with a lot of muscling at the top of their rump.   Do this by increasing the angle on your skirt pattern where the skirts join.  This is particularly important if you plan to lace the skirts together, all the way to the back.  This, along with proper blocking of the skirts is important to the horse's welfare.  I often recall the saying: "Ride the tree not the skirts."

-The cut of the seat flap below the ear (concho at base of cantle) angles forward too much for my taste and should be nearly vertical before rounding out to form the seat flap.  The resulting, rounder, fuller seat flap would compliment the skirts and overall lines of the saddle.

-The rear jockeys and seat jockey should align as previously mentioned by Goldshot.  What we mean is that an imaginary line starting along the bottom of the rear jockey should project forward and continue with the horizontal line of the seat jockey.  The eye catches these lines and expects continuity.  This look is a carryover from the "four-button-seat" style of saddle.  To accomplish this, have your seat jockeys roughed in prior to fitting the seat.  Use a straight edge to continue the imaginary line and cut your seat using that line as a guide.  After doing this you might find that the seat jockey looks too deep.  I don't think it will on this saddle but if you thought it was, you could expose a bit more swell by dipping the cut behind the gullet concho downward more, thereby reducing the apparent depth of the seat jockey.  Incidentally, the gullet concho is placed very nicely.  Referring to your previous response to Goldshot, these lines don't need to be perfectly horizontal with the ground when the saddle is on a horse, rather the lines of the back and seat jockeys need to align relative to each other.

-You should cut a crescent out within the circle of the rig plate as was previously mentioned.  Leave enough there to put a small "quarter-moon" plug between the rig and skirt there to help support the rig plate and smooth the transition.  Not only will this cut create more room for passing the latigo but it will help make the rig look like a part of the skirt rather than an afterthought.  Once you do that, you will find that you will want to round out the skirt more fully, ahead of the rig plat (around the 4 to 5 o-clock position).  A bit larger, fuller radius there will improve the lines.  I like the line of the skirt from the gullet concho to the front most arc, but from the bottom of the latigo keeper downward, it curves in too sharply toward the rig plate.   Picky I know, but something to consider.

-The seat jockey at the very front of the saddle should reflect or follow the line of the skirt.  Also, the margin or reveal from the seat jockey to the skirt edge here could be less.  I like to see about 3/8" or so.  Yours appears to be about an inch.  You started out with a nice reveal around the concho area and I would continue that or slowly increase it until rounding back to form the horizontal line of the seat jockey.

-The distance from the back of the cantle to the rearmost line of the skirts could be longer to create a more balanced look.  Yours appears to be about 4 3/4", maybe 5".  As a rule I like to use 5 1/2" to 6".  Given the tall cantle on this saddle, something closer to 6" would look better in my view.  If you do so, you will also need to widen the reveal between the skirt and jockey.  Just under 1/3 of the total length is a good rule of thumb (based on the "golden ratio").  That will translate to about 1 3/4" or so, depending on the depth.  Some folks argue that a shorter backed horse needs short skirts.  If the skirts are flared and blocked away from the horse (comment 1) longer skirts shouldn't interfere with the horse and can look so much more balanced and pleasing.

-As previously mentioned, the seat's "ear" cut (base of cantle) should have been a bit lower or closer to where the cantle meets the tree bar.  This would have prevented the appearance of the unsupported bump in the seat ahead of the cantle base.  It's tricky to get the cut high enough so that the seat pulls down nicely, yet not so high as to cause the bump.  To estimate this you can stack up the amount of leather you anticipate will be under the ears (rig, jockeys, cinch keeper, etc.) then add a bit more.  Usually this will amount to 3/4" to 1" vertically above the tree bar.   Better too much, as with this saddle, than too little.  I like your cantle binding and the fact that you attempted to mold the seat leather back from the cantle rim such that the cantle binding is recessed behind the line of the seat.  This often ignored detail will prevent excessive wear on the binding and gives the saddle a finished, professional look.

-I can't see the fender too well behind the nice reata but suspect that a fuller, wider fender might better compliment the large taps.  Again, something to think about as you attempt to pull all of the elements of the saddle together into a pleasing, balanced package.

-I was puzzled about the construction of the back rig dee.  It appears more like a flat plate in back but an in-skirt up front.  No criticism, just curious.  The rig position and depth look good.

Overall this is an attractive, functional saddle that looks like a joy to ride. All of my comments with the exception of the first one are based on aesthetics and are purely a matter of taste.  Use them or discard them as you see fit.  I humbly submit them to help you develop your style.  You're on track to building great saddles.  Keep refining your work.  Stay open minded and always remain a student.

Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Correction to previous post, comment #3:   "...To accomplish this, have your seat  rear jockeys roughed in prior to fitting the seat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/18/2019 at 6:59 PM, EdOdgers said:

Hello EdOdgers - I have added my notes & thoughts in blue below

I just came across this now older post and was impressed with the photos of your saddle.  I'm hoping that these comments can still be of some use.  First off, this is an awesome saddle for #4, congratulations!  Please accept my comments knowing that you've done a lot of great stuff with this saddle.  Thanks!

-The skirts behind the cantle could flare upward a bit more to ensure that they don't put pressure on the horse.  Yours are close to being OK but to be safe I'd rather see a little more rise.   A saddle that is too flat here can really sore those horses with a lot of muscling at the top of their rump.   Do this by increasing the angle on your skirt pattern where the skirts join.  This is particularly important if you plan to lace the skirts together, all the way to the back.  This, along with proper blocking of the skirts is important to the horse's welfare.  I often recall the saying: "Ride the tree not the skirts."  That makes sense - I know my first saddle did have this issue on short backed horses...We ended up removing the skirt lacing and it relieved issue.  Since then I have never laced my skirts all the way to the back - I lace them only as far as the bars extend.  Seems to work.  I will keep this tip in mind on my next build!

-The cut of the seat flap below the ear (concho at base of cantle) angles forward too much for my taste and should be nearly vertical before rounding out to form the seat flap.  The resulting, rounder, fuller seat flap would compliment the skirts and overall lines of the saddle.  That is interesting - I have been trying to create the seat flap in such a way that it looks like it flows out of the cantle line - I like that look but I will definitely do some research and see how saddles with rounder seat flap look - May have to change my mind!!

-The rear jockeys and seat jockey should align as previously mentioned by Goldshot.  What we mean is that an imaginary line starting along the bottom of the rear jockey should project forward and continue with the horizontal line of the seat jockey.  The eye catches these lines and expects continuity.  This look is a carryover from the "four-button-seat" style of saddle.  To accomplish this, have your seat jockeys roughed in prior to fitting the seat.  Good idea - I think this is where I have gone wrong - I always do them later and then have this issue.  Great tip - Will incorporate from now on on all builds!!

Use a straight edge to continue the imaginary line and cut your seat using that line as a guide.  After doing this you might find that the seat jockey looks too deep.  I don't think it will on this saddle but if you thought it was, you could expose a bit more swell by dipping the cut behind the gullet concho downward more, thereby reducing the apparent depth of the seat jockey.  Incidentally, the gullet concho is placed very nicely.  Referring to your previous response to Goldshot, these lines don't need to be perfectly horizontal with the ground when the saddle is on a horse, rather the lines of the back and seat jockeys need to align relative to each other.

-You should cut a crescent out within the circle of the rig plate as was previously mentioned.  Leave enough there to put a small "quarter-moon" plug between the rig and skirt there to help support the rig plate and smooth the transition.  Not only will this cut create more room for passing the latigo but it will help make the rig look like a part of the skirt rather than an afterthought.  I will say that it irritates me every time I saddle a horse with these rigs ...just not enough room for fingers with gloves on to pull latigo through - Will be creating that 'quarter moon' going forward.  Cold up here so we have to wear gloves about 6 out of 12 months minimum.

Once you do that, you will find that you will want to round out the skirt more fully, ahead of the rig plat (around the 4 to 5 o-clock position).  A bit larger, fuller radius there will improve the lines.  I like the line of the skirt from the gullet concho to the front most arc, but from the bottom of the latigo keeper downward, it curves in too sharply toward the rig plate.   Picky I know, but something to consider.  never even noticed that and have to say I agree - Will bug me every time I look at that saddle now!

-The seat jockey at the very front of the saddle should reflect or follow the line of the skirt.  Also, the margin or reveal from the seat jockey to the skirt edge here could be less.  I like to see about 3/8" or so.  Yours appears to be about an inch.  You started out with a nice reveal around the concho area and I would continue that or slowly increase it until rounding back to form the horizontal line of the seat jockey.  makes sense.

-The distance from the back of the cantle to the rearmost line of the skirts could be longer to create a more balanced look.  Yours appears to be about 4 3/4", maybe 5".  As a rule I like to use 5 1/2" to 6".  Given the tall cantle on this saddle, something closer to 6" would look better in my view.  If you do so, you will also need to widen the reveal between the skirt and jockey.  Just under 1/3 of the total length is a good rule of thumb (based on the "golden ratio").  That will translate to about 1 3/4" or so, depending on the depth.  Some folks argue that a shorter backed horse needs short skirts.  If the skirts are flared and blocked away from the horse (comment 1) longer skirts shouldn't interfere with the horse and can look so much more balanced and pleasing.  I guess this is something I struggle with - I hate seeing saddles with 6" depth skirts that flair up big time and look like there is a curry comb under them - So i have always gone with short skirts - I ride colts a lot and like a shorter saddle for them when they may not have developed completely.  Will have to think on this but I do agree that longer skirts done right look nice!

-As previously mentioned, the seat's "ear" cut (base of cantle) should have been a bit lower or closer to where the cantle meets the tree bar.  This would have prevented the appearance of the unsupported bump in the seat ahead of the cantle base.  It's tricky to get the cut high enough so that the seat pulls down nicely, yet not so high as to cause the bump.  To estimate this you can stack up the amount of leather you anticipate will be under the ears (rig, jockeys, cinch keeper, etc.) then add a bit more.  Usually this will amount to 3/4" to 1" vertically above the tree bar.   Better too much, as with this saddle, than too little. OK - I will watch this on next rig!

I like your cantle binding and the fact that you attempted to mold the seat leather back from the cantle rim such that the cantle binding is recessed behind the line of the seat.  This often ignored detail will prevent excessive wear on the binding and gives the saddle a finished, professional look.

-I can't see the fender too well behind the nice reata but suspect that a fuller, wider fender might better compliment the large taps.  Again, something to think about as you attempt to pull all of the elements of the saddle together into a pleasing, balanced package.  OK - Will keep that in mind!

-I was puzzled about the construction of the back rig dee.  It appears more like a flat plate in back but an in-skirt up front.  No criticism, just curious.  The rig position and depth look good.  It is configured like a flat plat at the back rigging plate - I did it this way to keep everything flat & smooth.  Be glad to hear your thoughts on this - See picture below.  What I did is layered a piece of 10oz hermann oak below main rigging piece - It skived to a feather edge just ahead of the rigging D - Made a flat and strong (in theory) connection.  I have no clue how other makers do this so I just took a stab at it.  I am not sure about cutting a rigging oval in the skirts for the billet attachment like many makers do - Just can't see it being as strong.

Overall this is an attractive, functional saddle that looks like a joy to ride. All of my comments with the exception of the first one are based on aesthetics and are purely a matter of taste.  Use them or discard them as you see fit.  I humbly submit them to help you develop your style.  You're on track to building great saddles.  Keep refining your work.  Stay open minded and always remain a student.  I seriously appreciate the time & effort you have put into this - Your comments are highly helpful and are the solid kind of criticism/advice I like to receive - I can't fix problems I don't even see so a guy needs someone to point them out!  As far as I am concerned learning is a continual, lifelong process!  Getting better is what makes it fun.  I am starting saddle #5 soon and will incorporate your advice.  It will be a wade - Ben Swanke tree, Rough out or half breed and I may go square skirts for a change...likely inskirt rigged.  

Ed

 

rigging.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron,

Ed here again.  I was fitting the pictured seat the other day and realized I should clarify the comment I made about aligning the rear jockey with the seat jockey.  I failed to mention that the "line" need not be straight and will more than likely be an arc as influenced by the shape of the skirts.  The following photo says it best:

IMG_1461.jpg.a6c105ac5e353f0e8cc997cc4d990130.jpg

 

I think that your rear rig scheme, pictured, is a good one.  I see now that the rig panel isn't attached to the skirts for a few inches ahead of the rear D, so that you can fold it away for stitching the skirt perimeter. That was the puzzling part.  Good problem solving.

You asked to see other options for the rear rigging for in-skirts.  In the above photo you can see my two most common in-skirt rig schemes.  The foreground saddle has a slot type rear rig.  It is actually very strong as the slot is 1" from the margin of the skirt and cut through three full thicknesses of skirting (rig panel + skirt + plug) surrounded by three rows of stitching.  The layer you don't see is the skirt plug that extends forward of the slot before it is skived and terminated.  I am confident that this slot will not be a failure point.  Back rigs aren't under nearly as much strain but if a wreck occurred in which the back cinch was hung up, the failure point is most likely the attachment of the flank cinch buckle, followed by the billet tearing through at a hole for the buckle-tongue.   I usually use this slot style for lighter weight saddles and make the rear billets removable (2 1/2 lb. reduction when rear rig not used).  Shown below is the underside of this saddle illustrating the plug and slot.

IMG_1432.jpg.a0d76a90a9be8566247bbb6a87b2415f.jpgIMG_1433.jpg.abb6aea18b8f0f7c05b3532757749fd3.jpg

 

The saddle in the background of my first photo will have a D-ring for the back rigging.  The rig panel hasn't yet been glued, stitched and trimmed to the skirts but you can see how this will go.  It is similar to yours but is a bit simpler and doesn't require the added layer of leather.  The rig panel will be stitched to the skirts all the way to the D-ring and again up the back side.  The D-ring can be pivoted up to stitch the skirt perimeter for attaching the sheepskin.  The D-ring ring is situated just below the tree bar ensuring that the rig lays down close to the skirt.   No additional thickness extends ahead of the base of the cantle, where the riders leg hangs.  The jockeys will hide all but the bottom of the D-ring.  Here's a couple of detailed photos to illustrate:

IMG_1447.jpg.f5fe28b142bdee7b7fa0d04ec8275e26.jpgIMG_1316.jpg.c1251294e3c570b6ad80868ef9bd0117.jpg

There are other schemes for in-skirts but these are my current favorites.  Never hurts to look, explore, discuss.  That's how we learn.

Best of luck with your next saddle project.  I'll be eager to see the results.

Ed

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now