Performance Showing - Making Western Tack
Here are the pieces, traced, cut out and partially assembled.
And here is my first saddle when done!
This saddle project was on a challenging mold with
high narrow withers.
So I had to modify the tree shoulders
I worked a basic wild rose pattern on the main skirt
And here it is after dyeing and antiquing the leather.
I have partly assembled it here.
And here it is finished... my second attempt at a minature western saddle.
Saddle #1:
The first saddle I attempted was in classic size, made from the Rio Rondo kit.

I didn't attempt any fancy carving at that scale. Just learning the assembly process was challenging enough!
Saddle #2:
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I went to traditional size for my next saddle because I wanted to give floral carving a try.
I have done floral carving for several years but carving at this scale is completely different than what I had ever done.  I once again used the Rio Rondo resin saddle tree.
Lesson Learned:  Because it is being worn by a bone china model, it is slightly out of scale and a bit too large for the model.
Saddle #3:
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For my try at a 3rd saddle, I wanted to try to improve on my scale and the quality of my leatherwork. I bought a beautiful inscale basketweave
stamp from Kirsteen Haley and wanted to give it a try. That darned stamp is so small, it's really a challenge for me to keep the stamp straight!  
But worth it because stamp looks so realistically in scale.
My design for this saddle was a combination basketweave &  leaf carving. I also wanted to try to work the pommel.

I wanted a saddle tree that was a western pleasure type and I was able to purchase some of Kirsteen Haley's resin trees. I think these trees
fit the models more like modern pleasure saddles do. They have a lower profile on the withers and I think they look more in scale.
They are also a one piece tree (Rio Rondo is a two piece) and I find this easier to work with.
Here are the pieces, carved, stamped and ready to be assembled.
Finished... And off to my friend Tracy's show string!
Which worked out pretty well... a reserve at NAN 2014 in OF Performance
Saddle #4:
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With my next saddle I wanted to try working with silver foil, something I had read about from other tack makers' blogs.
I found that it is a very workable material, quite easy to "tool" but fragile.
So I planned the design, leaving blank spaces for where the
foil would be going.
Then I tooled the foil pieces, decorated them with studs and
nailheads and glued them in place.
And cut out and assembled the finished saddle.
Made a bridle to match and test fitted it to make sure the cinch and
everything fits. I still haven't added the pommel silver foil yet.
Saddle #5:
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Now that I understood the basics of making a western saddle I was up for a bigger project.
My friend Tracy was happy to oblige with a request for a parade saddle. That was a challenge all right!
I set out to do a lot of research because though I had seen many parade saddles on TV, I didn't have access to a real one to inpsect.
Tracy wanted a unique parade set - one that meant something personal to her. Since she has and loves German Shephard dogs, that became the theme.
I knew that Tracy wanted the saddle for her china Royal Worcester "Palomino" mold. Since chinas are slightly smaller, I had to
make a pattern that would fit that mold and not be too large and out of scale.
I start out with natural leather where I lay out the pattern
pieces, tool and edge stitch them.
Tracy wanted a black set, so they got several coats of black dye
plus a top coat.
I start assembly.
And eventually I get there!
View from the top.
Just in time for Tracy to show the next weekend... Whew!
My progress as I learn more...
Good enough to earn a Top Ten in Western Pleasure Stock at NAN 2014.
Then she came back to play at NAN 2015 and got 2 Reserves and another Top Ten.
And at NAN 2015  earned a Top Ten in Other Western Performance
Tracy wasn't able to show her RW Palomino in Parade at NAN 2015, so she lent me
the parade set to try on my Arabian stallion Purmer.
The judges liked it!