I used Chahin hides for the New Mexico Saddle. This was the first saddle I built. It was built under the guidance and instruction of James Sturgeon, late of JS Saddlery in Cliff, NM, using supplies he ordered for the saddle project/course. It's not been ridden in very much as it's a rather "stout" saddle and is challenging to swing onto a horse taller than 14HH. It's on a 16" rawhide wrapped wooden tree. It's finished with Neat's Foot Oil and glycerin saddle soap. This saddle is well built and comfortable for both horse and rider. This is my gold standard saddle and I'd grade it as an A- to A.
I used Hermann Oak hides for the Old-Style Ranch Saddle. This is the first saddle I built on my own. It was originally built for my wife. Because I wasn't happy with some of the mistakes I made (and corrections thereto), I gave her my very first saddle and used this one for close to 6 years of riding 4-5 times a month. It's quite comfortable for horse and rider on a 15 1/2 inch rawhide wrapped wooden tree. It's finished in extra-virgin olive oil and glycerin saddle soap. I'd give it a B+ grade overall.
I used Tandy hides for the "Rattler" Trail Saddle, the "Lightweight" Trail Saddle and the Western Half Seat Saddle with Sam Stagg Rigging.
The "Rattler" I built for my son. It's on a 16" Ralide tree with swells and Ralide stirrups. I had difficulties with the swells, so came up with a fix that works. It's finished in Neat's Foot Oil and glycerin saddle soap. It's comfortable for horse and rider. I'd give this saddle a B to B+ grade overall.The "Lightweight" I built for my niece. It's on a 15 1/2 inch Ralide tree with swells and oxbow stirrups. It's finished in extra-virgin olive oil and glycerin saddle soap. It's comfortable for horse and rider. I'd give this saddle a B+ to A- grade overall.
The Western Half Seat Saddle I built for myself. I use it for about a year and a half of 4-5 times riding a month. It's extremely light and saves my shoulders when I swing it onto a horse. It's comfortable for horse and rider. The rigging was something I had read about and wanted to try. Probably won't do it again; rather would use an in-skirt rigging plate to make the saddle even lighter. I like the half seat idea. It helps with weight reduction and is surprisingly comfortable to sit in. Rather than skive 9-10 oz leather down to fit onto the horn and fork, I used 5-6 oz leather instead. I think it gives a cleaner/sharper look to the saddle. This saddle was another first: my first Cheyenne roll. This was done using Al and Ann Stolmans' books and YouTube videos. It's finished in Neat's Foot Oil and glycerin saddle soap. All things considered, I'd give this saddle a B+ to A- grade overall.
I used Wickett and Craig hides for the Barrel Saddle Attempt. This saddle has "issues" that are mostly aesthetic. It was also built for my wife. She's ridden in it several times and found it to be comfortable. After riding it, however, she asked me to put a Cheyenne Roll on it. I'll get "roundtuit", but is why I built my half seat saddle with a Cheyenne Roll (for the practice). It's finished in Neat's Foot Oil and glycerin saddle soap. I'd give it a generous C grade overall. Once it's been re-built, I'll consider re-evaluating it.
Lastly, everywhere I go that there's leather I hear about this leather or that leather that the speaker feels is the "best leather". Considering the four leathers I've used, and taking into consideration cost, weights, shipping, location and access, as well as appearance and wear-ability, I prefer using Tandy Leather for saddles. These 4 leathers, depending on the grade of the leather, are comparably priced and are comparably challenging to cut, dry OR cased. In addition, when finished, it can be remarkably difficult to tell the leathers apart (with the exception of the dyed Wickett and Craig leather) as I demonstrated to a friend using the cantle bags as examples. Hence, since Tandy's less than an hour away from home, that's my preferred "go to" leather.
This Page Created 2 December 2021, 1540 hrs PDT