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Success at The National Saddlery Competition 2019

Every year Saddlers from all over the world flock to Saddlers Hall in London for the annual National Saddlery Competition. This year I was attending to officially receive my certificate of completion for my apprenticeship. It was a really nice way to round off 4 years of hard work. I was also fortunate enough to be awarded a bursary award on completion of my apprenticeship in recognition of my efforts.

Being THE competition in the Saddlery calendar, I also decided to enter a couple of classes. As it was the last year I was able to enter the trainee classes, I though I would make the most of it. I made a stallion inhand bridle for the trainee bridlework class, and then after a last-minute decision, I made a crupper and dock for the trainee harness class the day before I had to post my work (not stressful at all!)

Well it all turned out to be worthwhile as I got second place in the harness class and was given a premium award. Even better then that, my stallion bridle was awarded first place in its class and was also given a premium award. It’s obviously a great feeling to win awards like that but even better when you really feel you’ve earnt it with the hard work and time you’ve put in.

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Frustrating time at The National Saddlery Competition 2018

This week has been a slightly stressful week. Part of me thought I shouldn’t blog about it because I feel I shouldn’t be advertising my mistakes. The other side of me feels that everyone makes mistakes and it’s best to admit it and see where you can go next. After all I am only an apprentice and just starting my journey.

This week was the annual National Saddlery Competition at Saddlers Hall in London. I entered a few items this year including the infamous stingray dressage saddle I made for my final saddlery exam, and a double bridle I made for the trainee bridle exam.

I actually had a great result with my saddle being awarded a premium award. Anyone who has chatted to me over the past few months will know just how much stress that saddle has created (the price you pay for trying to make something a bit more creative) so to receive some recognition of my hard work is lovely.

The double bridle I made I was actually very pleased with, which is unusual for me as I’m such a perfectionist and very self-critical. On display with all the other bridles it did look really nice and I have to admit I was a little sad to not receive any award for it but at the end of the day the judges decision is final and there is such a high standard of competition you really have to have something exceptional to do well.

Well the really annoying moment was when I got to score card back to read. The trainee bridlework classes are usually done to a specification, so the item you make has to be to specific measurements. Silly old me had misread one of the measurements, so my reins were too short. The judge seemed more frustrated as me because I had received high marks in every other area, but the fundamental problem was that it didn’t match the specification!

Anyway, I’m trying not to dwell on it, as I said we all make mistakes, but this was a costly one and I’ll be sure to not make the same mistake again!

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The National Saddlery Competition 2017

This week was a really exciting week. We went down to London for the National Saddlery Competition. The main reason for my attendance was to collect my portfolio as the official recognition of me starting my apprenticeship. I also decided to enter a couple of classes – it is a competition after all!

The exciting twist to this year’s competition was that The Princess Royal was attending and handing out the portfolios. Her Royal Highness is in fact the Master of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers’ and has attended a few of the competitions over the year.

Well this had obviously had an impact on the number of entries (an entry in the competition is the only way to guarantee a ticket to the event) as the hall was packed with both people and entries.

I entered the master and apprentice class where I had to make a breastplate and then my master made a martingale attachment to add to it. I also entered the trainee bridlework class which was an inhand stallion bridle. Fortunately, I recently completed my final bridle making exam and one of the exam pieces was an inhand stallion bridle, so I just entered my exam piece.

Although I didn’t place in either class, I was awarded premium awards for both my entries. Premium awards are given to pieces of work that are of an exceptional standard so as far as I am concerned that is still an achievement and encouragement that my work is heading in the right direction.

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First Trip to The National Saddlery Competition 2016

Well this week was an exciting week. My first trip (hopefully not the last) to The National Saddlery Competition. The competition is run by The Society of Master Saddlers and hosted by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers at Saddlers’ Hall, London.

Well my first experience of Saddlers’ Hall was not a disappointment. It’s a beautiful building with some incredible features but the highlight was definitely seeing the work on display made by some incredibly talented saddlers.

I, along with all of my college classmates, had entered one of the most basic trainee saddlery classes. There was a specification for this which was to make a headcollar conforming to the Level 2 bridlework assessment.

I was thrilled to learn that I had been awarded a premium award for my entry. These awards are given to work that are considered to be of an exceptional standard.

Not bad for my first entry into the competition!