The restoration of these saddles is a work of love. My goal is to restore them to their former beauty and match the craftsmanship of the original makers. During the late 1800's and early 1900's when most of these saddles were built, there was a saddle maker on every corner. In this competitive market, many of the builders became highly skilled. Many saddles were not just pieces of equipment used in transportation, but highly refined works of art. The truly quality saddles have survived even the severest neglect and the poorer saddles have been disposed of as we do in our throwaway society today
Using modern technology and methods
The restoration process starts with the renovation of the tree (framework) that the saddle is built on. All breaks are repaired and the tree is completely encased in fibreglass which makes it extremely strong. The process continues with the covering of the bars (the bottom of the saddle) with the finest garment leather available from Goliger Leather Company at equitack.com. Then the saddle is up righted to start the process of adding rigging. In some cases when a saddle will actually be used for riding and not just for display, the rigging is modernized with the addition of a balance strap.
The process continues to restore the seat as close to the original as possible
The old seat may have been leather or tapestry, stitched with a design or unstitched. When enough of the design is available, it can be reproduced exactly. With the seat complete, the next step is making patterns from the old leather if possible or using catalogue pictures of these particular saddles to get the cuts of leather just right. When there are enough of the original tooling patterns for an example, they are reproduced to the best of the possible means. There is use of top of the line Wickett & Craig cowhide. After the leather is added to the saddle, the finishing touches are buttons made either of brass or silver whichever is appropriate.