Enjoy the Ride
Saddles Showcase a Wealth of Traditional Skills
This is a transcript of my interview with Selvedge Magazine:
A traditional English saddle possesses understated beauty which belittles the complexity of its construction.At first sight it appears to be a moulded object – a carved object, a thrown object but behind its smooth, elegant exterior lies layers of different materials, all selected for a particular use, married together by the skill of the craftsmen. But when the saddle is complete all the beholder sees is its simplicity with a function.
‘Anything else is a piece of cake really,’ laughs former saddler and owner of The Great English Outdoors, Athene English, when she recalls the complex set of rules she had to master to produce her first saddle. ‘The skills you learn are transferableso if you give me leather I can fashion a bag, belt…..most things really’. It is, nevertheless, a qualified statement. ‘I couldn’t bind a book,’ confesses Athene. ‘I can repair a riding boot but couldn’t create a dress shoe. Learning saddlery makes you multi-talented but not a master of all trades. I’d find it more difficult to work with very fine leathers.’