Traditional Saddlery Training With Barrie Swain – Day 3

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In the previous session Barrie showed me how to attach the webbing to prepare the seat and day three of the training was a continuation of the preparation of the seat.

On day three we cut and attached the padding on to the webbing. A fair amount of precision is needed to ensure that the seat doesn’t have and lumps or bumps in places where they could cause discomfort to the rider. So lots of trimming to ensure that the edges of the foam have the right contours and sit in the right place.

Traditionally saddles would have been padded with natural materials such as flax. However foam is far superior in every way compared with the natural and traditional alternatives. One may say that this is traditional saddlery brought into the modern era. Using natural materials is tricky in that it is much more work to get the padding even and smooth. I am told to stick with these materials until I am proficient enough to experiment with natural materials in the future. A wisdom I can definitely agree with.

Besides learning about putting a saddle together I am also learning a great deal about tools, tool maintenance and techniques for tool use. This knowledge comes from decades of experience and will seldom be found in print. These are very valuable experiences and what I learn here is already proving useful in my bag making.

Please see the short time-lapse below for a quick overview of what we did on day three.