I’ve often suggested to long-time, serious students of saddle making that a good mental exercise is to reduce a saddle to its most basic elements and either imagine or sketch what the result might look like.
The attached sketch is one that I made about twenty-five years ago as just such an exercise. The drawing and scribbled notes remained in an “idea file” until recently, when I decided to attempt to make this saddle as a 2016 TCA project.
The tree parts were milled, laminated and shaped from solid cherry. The fork and cantle are fastened to the bars with waterproof glue and wood screws- drilled, counterbored and plugged with cherry.
Although the saddle’s construction is quite simple, the fitting required some precision, including the “corona” which is pocketed in place on the front and rear bar tips.
The carving is a traditional California style mixed floral design which subtly grows a little larger, or bolder as it progresses downward from rigging to fender. The flowers used in the mixture were wild rose, California poppy, pansy, Mexican marigold, sego lily and water lily.
The rigging is Spanish -laced with rawhide, as is the rigging brace, under the fender.
The fenders are in one piece with 3 1/2” stirrup leathers, with lace adjustment just below the edge of the bar.
Scott Hardy’s hand-engraved sterling silver conches and inlaid 1 3/4” inlaid horn cap add a bright touch of class.
I hope this inspires others to create their own version of a minimalist, ultra-light saddle, and may they have as much fun with the design as I did.