Tag Archives: tack

Trials, Errors, Tack

The last few days I’ve been working on making an English tack set for Troy Soldier, my next performance horse. I got super frustrated on Thursday when I was starting out, but I was able to take a step back and start fresh on Friday with two new rules:

  1. go slow
  2. skive, skive, and skive some more

Putting new blades in my knives helped a lot too, since that made skiving a lot more effective.

This is my fourth English saddle using Anna Kirby’s amazing step by step tutorial.

Saddle in progress- about half way done here.

Saddle in progress- about half way done here.

saddle making mess

Saddle making makes a big mess. My pants and the floor are littered in little bits of skived leather.

As usual, it took three attempts to get the panels right.

troys english saddle

Finally, the finished product!

Now that the saddle is done, I’m working on the matching bridle. Lots of wee buckle-making going on around here.

drying strapwear

Strapwear waiting to be used in the bridle

I’m hoping to get all my English stuff in order first, but if all goes well, I’ll also be attempting my first ever Western set soon.

Free Box of Awesomeness

I’ve been in London for a few days now and having a wonderful time. Our first full day here turned out to be rather horsey, as we saw Stubbs’ Whistlejacket at the National Gallery and went to the Household Cavalry Museum. As promised, here’s a belated post from earlier this week.

I did some light garage saleing last weekend and came away with some excellent surprises. I found some things to buy, but the best finds were in the free boxes! I got everything in this picture for a grand total of $1.25.

garage sale finds

huge bag of leather scraps, full container of glue, nice tan leather piece, and paint palette

I was so excited to find that bag of leather! It’s got to be about $100 worth of scraps. I have always made my tack out of reclaimed or recycled leather scrounged from old purses, wallets, and clothing. But now I have enough leather to probably last me the rest of my life- all for free!

On the way home, I swung by Goodwill to pick up a nice plastic tub to organize all my new leather (and my old leather) in. When I got home, the first step was the sort the leather. A lot of it had pretty big grain- too big for miniatures. I separated out the large-grain leather and put that in a separate bag. Next I took all the leather I wanted to keep and sorted it by color. And my, were there colors!

sorted leather

This photo has terrible lighting, but you can at least see the variety of colors

I’ve never seen so much colorful leather. Before, my colorful leather collection was in a small zip lock bag. Now I have just as much in fun colors as I do in the regular leather tack tones. I’d better get to work on some gaming sets!

To keep things organized, I kept things sorted by colors and bagged each color group. All the bags fit into the plastic tub, so now all my leather is together and super organized.

bagged leather

It was immensely satisfying. And I get to give the larger grain leather to some horse-loving kids so they can make some model horse tack too. What an awesome find!

Splint Boot Adventure

Crazily enough, I ended up with a little bit of extra time on my hands before the show. None of my performance entries need splint boots, but a few of them would be improved with the added detail. Plus went I want to do jumping or cross-country in the future, I’ve got some leg wear in the tack box.

I made my splint boots using Anna Kirby’s tutorial, located here. Putting wire in the boots to help hold them on the leg is just a stroke of brilliance. It also makes the on/off a lot easier.

The first thing I did was make a basic pattern. Then I skivved some blue leather using my awesome new super skivver.

I followed Anna’s tutorial and did mock velcro straps, just like the kind I use in real life. After this picture was taken I decided to add more of the blue leather to get rid of the little gap between sides. Adding more leather also helped the boots stay on, since I was putting mostly sticky wax on the bigger blue leather instead of the itty bitty black straps. (I’d love to try the re-usable glue that Anna recommends, but I haven’t gotten to a craft store and already have plenty of sticky wax on hand).


Somehow I managed to lose the photos I took of his paid of finished boots, and now the horses and tack are all packed away for the show. But Nightfox will be sporting his new boots in English Natural Trail and English Games.

My tubs are all packed and ready for the show. Hurry up and get here, Saturday!

Mummy Horses

I’ve heard that some people tack up their performance horses before packing them to save time on show day. I’m a little nervous about how many classes I’m entering, so I thought I might try it. But, I also worry that the tack won’t actually stay on in transport and it’ll end up before more hassle then it’s worth. Then I remembered that I have a bunch of vet wrap.

I cut pieces to hold one those pesky bridle straps, and voila, mummy horses.

My New Toy

Thanks to a post by Anna Kirby, I realized I really need to be sealing all my tack items with leather sealer. That prompted a trip to Tandy Leather, which is not too terribly far away but still a bit of a trip.

So of course, while I was there I had to browse around. Just in case.

I’ve always wondered about the special skiving knives that some people use for thinning leather, and the guy at Tandy let me try one out, which is just what I needed. I hate to buy something I find out it’s not going to work the way I hoped. But this thing is awesome! It cost $14.99, but for someone who really hates skiving, it’s great.

The thing I really like about it is that it thins a large area (well, in terms of mini tack, anyways) not just a little bit like I can do with an exacto knife. I found myself still using the exacto and sandpaper to neaten things up, but overall this skiver thing is pretty darn cool.


…and after!

It’s true that I could have achieved similar results from my old all-exacto method, but not nearly as fast or as easily. Hurrah for new toys!

Rabbit Goes on Vacation

This last weekend my husband and I rented a cabin for two nights for a mini vacation. One lucky pony got to come too- my miniature donkey, Rabbit. Rabbit came because my single, enjoyable, to-do item for the weekend was to make him a new halter. He’ll be showing in In-Hand Trail, and needed some schnazzy new duds. Here’s Rabbit in his new halter, enjoying the scenic river right off the back porch:

It was a lovely weekend and I’m glad we snuck away for a bit. The next few weeks are busy (with fun things, but still busy) so it was fun to have some set aside to sit on my butt. Rabbit had a good time too, but he was not allowed in the hot tub.

I’m working every day this week, so I’m very happy to report that I am basically ready for the show on Saturday. The horses are packed, references and props finished, and class list printed. Here’s to a stress free week!

Dreamflite Design English Saddle Tutorial!

I’m a little late on the news, but if you haven’t heard, Anna Kirby of Dreamflite Design has released her long awaited Stablemate English Saddle Tutorial.

The tutorial is fabulous, and chock full of great tips. With Anna’s superb guidance, I made this saddle for Nightfox:

And trust me, it would not look anywhere near that good without the tutorial. Her guidance is invaluable.

Anna is graciously sharing her tack making secrets for free until January 17th. You can email her and request a copy. After the 17th, the PDF will be available for a totally-worth-it $10. The tutorial is extremely thorough and professional, with tons of helpful pictures. I would encourage anyone with the means to purposely wait and pay for it.

Thank you Anna for sharing your brilliant methods with the model horse community, and for putting so much work into producing a helpful and thorough document.