Customer Custom Saddle Build Journies 2017
February 2017 "JV" Saddle build
My first hands on saddle tree modification to fit a mare in Utah. "Steele Equi-Fit" didn't have a tree that I was satisfied with, so I ordered the one that was the closest and had it shipped to me so I could make it fit the mare perfect. (Even tho I own 22 different Bar fits I didn't have one to fit her to my satisfaction in all areas of the tree. IE: Bar angle, bar pad bow, where the twist begins, angle and convexity over ribs, tails, and loin angle, bow, flare on bar tails, tree rocker, and the flare on front bar tips.
I am a saddle fitter. Therefore, ALL OF THIS is important to me.
I build saddles to fit specific horses. Threfore their fit is SPECIFIC!
I have taken pictures of the work I began yesterday and got this far today. I have some bondo work and then sanding and resealing to protect the tree from water and elements over its lifetime in her saddle before it will be finished and shipped to her for a final fitting before being sent to the saddle builder in Alabama to have her gorgeous custom saddle built on her custom saddle tree.
This was always an area that made me feel tense when I had to trust my saddle maker with these types of modifications because I know how difficult it is to communicate when the person is unable to be there in person to receive instructions and ask questions~ as well as the fact that they are not saddle fitters. They are saddle builders. The 2 disciplines are vastly different. You do not need any education in saddle fitting to build a beautiful saddle.
The only reason I began my own saddle company is to build saddles that fit the horse they were designed for.
I do not endeavor to build a spendy one, nor the drop dead gorgeously perfect ones.... These saddles need to have the correct tree in them and be built fast since their owners cannot ride without them.
And while my saddles arent ugly by any means... they also will not compare to the beauties made by Master Craftsman who take their time to build their work of art. My saddles also are 1/3 the price.
Therefore, with all that being said.... in 2017 I decided to put my big girl boots on and make the modifications to these unique situations with customers saddle trees.
I have had alot of advice from both my saddle builders and it was alot of fun learning from them. And this time I am compltely confident that the tree modification is correct.
The owner was a trooper from the start and paid for a internet saddle fitting and submitted numerous pictures and videos to enable this custom saddle build to develop correctly to fit her little table backed mare with 2 different shoulders! And she tells me she had alot of fun doing all of it!
The owner has been a very active part in the numerous decisions necessary to get everything the way it should be to fit the mare and all the visual attributes that she wanted on her custom saddle in the price she could afford.
She even chose 2 border tools and combined them in a unique way that her and I just fell in love with! She also ordered beautiful custom made iron, silver and copper conchos out of Old Mexico to match her tooling!
Customers have so much fun designing every attribute of their saddle. (and I enjoy assisting them!)
Combined with the deep rooted assurance that the saddle tree fits their horse, it a very satisfying experience for the owner!
I always imagine them retelling the story of their experience of ordering their custom Right Fit Saddle, year after year after year!!!
It makes me smile!
The tree modification was completed when the apoxy sealer was reapplied and was sanded one final time before shipment to saddle builder. The horse had steeper shoulder on the right and it can be seen in the last picture. She also had a very full shoulder requiring some of the bow to be removed from the front bar paddle so that she had even bar contact with her shoulder to avoid the pressure spots she was getting from other brands of saddles built on standard saddle trees.
June 2018 TJ:
This tree needed the stirrup leather guides repositioned further back so that the riders could get her legs under her and not be in a chair position. So I blocked the front of the groove with leather and sanded the rear of the groove so the leather would fit flat in the new groove. This rider has reported that her saddle is completely comfortable and secure for both horse and rider. She is able to ride long distance for multiple days and her and her gelding are no longer sore like they had been with previous saddles.
December 2018 RT and LE:
Thes 2 tree modification were to reduce the footprint of the saddle tree. (The overall bar length front to back) without changing the fit to the horse. When ordering trees by seat size, the fit changes when the tree maker shortens the bars. I can't accept the risk that its done incorrectly by allowing the tree maker to do this modification since I have experienced this error with tree makers in the past. Therefore I do the modification myself to assure its done correctly for each horse and rider. These 2 trees required the same simple modification and reglassing.
As with the majority of saddle trees produced, the length is too long for most horses to be able to accomodate, taking into consideration the leather will added length. The more extension up the loin the more bridging begins to occur in the middle and the more pressure on the shoulders. Shorten the tree to 20-21" and the tree settles, which enables the horse to carry his rider on his ribs where he was designed to carry a riders weight without damage to the moving shoulders and the unprotected loin.
The original tree form length for a 16" seat is 23". This rider required a 17" seat. therefore the tree maker would have extended the tree length to 24". So I ordered the 16" bar with the cantle set on the bars for a 17" seat. But it was still necessary to remove 2" off the total length of the tree so that when the leather was added it would not interfere with the horses hips and the saddle would be level front to back. So I removed 1.5" off the rear f the bars (as you can see there was plenty to spare) and 3/4" off the front bar tips so that the tree could stay behind the shoulders.