National Saddlery Competition

National Saddlery Competition 2023

Well after a little break in 2022, on Monday it was time to head into London for the 2023 National Saddlery Competition. It’s always a fantastic showcase of some incredible pieces of work and this year did not disappoint!

My favourite class is always the “presidents choice”, where the topic is chosen by the president of the Society of Master Saddlers. Thie year the theme was “Scrap Box to Top Notch” and the rules stated that the entry had to be made by at least 60% recycled/re-purposed leather. I am always astounded by peoples creativity (I’m hoping one year I will have a lightbulb moment and be able to come up with a great idea.) Some of my favourite entries included a stool made from old stirrup leathers, a doorstop made from an old leather jacket, and the winning item, a turtle made from two recycled saddles!

I decided this year it was finally time to play with the big kids and enter the Open Bridle Class (and now that I am a master I’m not allowed to enter the others!) This year the class specification was a double bridle suitable for dressage. I made one of my fairly standard shaped headpieces, a curved crytsal pearl browband and then decided to challenge myself a bit, with my first attempt at a square raised noseband. I had counted on January being a quiet month but fortunately/unfortunately it was unseasonably busy. Anyway, a couple of stupidly late nights in the workshop and some fantastically patient customers meant I was able to finish it just in time and get it posted with a day to spare!

 

In my experience of the competition, on arrival you can view the entries for each class, before being called in to the awards presentation itself. Usually before the awards presentation there are tags on the prizewinners of each class so you can see which the top three entries were, but you have to wait until the presentation to find out the placings. This year however, they decided to keep us guessing a little longer and there were no such clues. The standard of my class was very high so you can imagine my surprise when 3rd place was announced and they called my name. It’s great to get some validation for my work but at the same time I know I still have plenty to work on.

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