Things You'll Need
- Photograph of saddle
- Tape measure
- Cotton or wool
A well-fitting, correctly-scaled saddle is the perfect finishing touch for any model horse. Making your own saddle is satisfying and means that you can get the scale exactly right. In addition, you can make the right type of saddle for your model, for example a racing saddle for a racehorse. Use soft, flexible leather that is easy to work with -- old gloves and leather jackets are a great source of material. For a professional touch you can buy miniature stirrups and buckles from online retailers rather than making them from wire.
Find a photograph or clear drawing to copy of the saddle of your choice. The main difference in each type of saddle is the cut of the flap, with jumping saddles being more forward cut and dressage saddles being deeper and longer. Each saddle is made up of the panels (the piece that lies against the horse's skin), the flaps, which lie against the horse's side and protect the rider's leg, and the seat. The saddle is held on with a strap called the girth or cinch, and there are stirrups suspended on straps at each side of the saddle to support the rider's foot.
Measure the model. Start from the withers (the lump at the base of the mane) and measure the distance along the back to the top of the tail. The seat of the saddle will reach a third of the way along the back. Measure from the withers to the belly behind the front legs. The flap of the saddle will reach about halfway down the horse's side.
Make a paper template using the measurements you have taken. Fold the paper into three, and draw a rough outline of the whole saddle. Cut it out so that you have three identical templates, and place one on the model's back. Refine the template by trimming the edges, then trim the other two in the same way. Take the first template, and cut off the flaps. This will leave you with the outline of the seat only. From the second template, cut off the back of the seat and trim the flaps to about half their length. This will give the shape of the panels. The third template should be left intact, and will form the flaps and structure of the saddle. Fit the paper template together to make sure the pieces are correct. Start with the panels, and place the flaps on top so that the panels are completely covered. Add the seat on top, and check the size against the model again.
Cut out the pieces of the saddle from leather. From the remaining leather, cut a strap long enough to go around the model's belly with a good overlap. Cut a second strap half the width of the first and twice the length. These will form the girth and stirrup leathers respectively.
Make the stirrups and girth buckle. Cut a short piece of wire, and use pliers to bend it into a stirrup shape, with a flat bottom and curved top. Twist the ends of the wire together at the top of the stirrup where the join will be hidden by the stirrup strap. Repeat for the second stirrup. To make the buckle, cut a piece of wire and bend the end over at right angles. Twist the main body of wire round in a circle, so that you end up with a circle bisected by a central prong.
Assemble the saddle. Lay the panels over the model's back in roughly the right position. Glue the girth strap over the panels so that it wraps around the model's belly. Add the buckle to one end by wrapping the strap around the central prong of the buckle. Next, remove the saddle from the model and glue the saddle flaps over the panels so that they are hidden completely. Thread the stirrups onto the stirrup strap. Glue the stirrup strap so that it forms a continuous circle, and glue it onto the top of the flaps so that a loop hangs down on each side, each holding a stirrup. Glue a little cotton wool onto the back of the saddle to give it some shape then glue the seat on top. Replace the saddle on the model and trim off any unwanted length from the girth.
Take care when using scissors and glue around your model so as not to damage it.