Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I can't contain my excitement! I was commissioned by Breyer this year to make a barrel racing saddle set, and after months of waiting, I'm so excited to see the final product!
Photo on Breyer's Website

 Here are the prototypes I made for the creation of this set:

I can't wait to buy one of these at my local tack store! It looks like Breyer's version is really close to the original, and I'm so excited to see it in person!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Custom Halters & Horse Love

As many of you know, I started making custom horse halters in 2016.  The first one was for my horse love, Jasper. I lease him, and he's got to be one of the best horses I've ridden, period.  He's filled a whole that hasn't really been filled since my paint gelding died in 2012.

I recently made him another fancy halter, and thanks to my father-in-law (I never have enough hands to bring my camera AND the kids), I have a great photo of him with my eldest sporting his new one:
This photo makes my heart melt.

The halters have been a joy to see on the ponies at my barn, so much of what I normally make gets shipped and I never see it again.  I am selling them in my Etsy store now.
I sold enough over Black Friday/Christmas, that I decided to let my creative juices flow a bit more and make some variations. "Magic" is a beautiful black horse at the barn that has become a favorite model of mine:

I also picked on him to model the new sports team halters.  I'm from Seattle in case you couldn't tell, so here's the 12th "horse":

 I took these with my 50mm, and I couldn't get far enough away from him to take the picture before he would walk right back up to me, such a love.
 I made this halter for a friend of a friend at the barn, who has a beautiful dun, and really love the basket weave with rivets.  I just bought some turquoise rivets I'm excited to try, too!
 I also made this custom "rebel" style halter for my friend Melissa at my barn.
 Ticki Ticki is a down to earth little Peruvian Paso buckskin mare at my barn, who also got an updated halter with some bling.
 Most horses at my barn have them now, and I love riding up ahead to take photos like this, all four horses have RF Tack halters on!
Just in case you need a reason to visit Florida in January, it's 75 degrees everyday and sunny.  Perfect riding weather:
 The only things we love more than the weather around here are our horses.

I am writing this down so you can all remind me in July that this is still a good place to live, when it's 95 degrees with 95% humidity. 

Sebastian just moved here from Washington, and while he's enjoying the winter, I'm not sure how this big black Clydesdale is going to like our Summer. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Australian Light Horse Set - Part 2

Making the Australian Light Horse set also required me to get creative and make some items more rarely seen in the model horse world.  Swords, scabbards, rifles, and unique saddle bags. Starting with the sword, I started with the handle. I carved it from some hard craft wood, and shaped some tin coated steel sheet metal drilling a hole with a #60 drill bit into the metal and wood in preparation for my tiny screw and washer.

 I made the shaft of the sword from a piece of aluminum tubing, crimped and sanded to fit the correct shape.  I also drilled a slot into the wood for secure fastening.
 I fit it into some 1/8" brass tubing for a scabbard. I added two brass rings at the top (once piece with two loops on either end), to prevent it from sliding through the scabbard frog on the horse shoe case, by making a slot in the back for the piece to fit into.
 Next was the rifle...
More aluminum tubing...
 I also made a pair of "wallet" saddle bags..

 Makes me want to go riding...

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Australian Light Horse Set - Part 1

I could write a long post about 2016, and reflect, but instead I'm going to get straight to tack, because I'm so excited to share more about this recent project.

I love a new challenge, and I decided to take some photos along the way while making this Australian Light Horse tack set.  I have a few notes for the next time, but I'm very pleased with how this came out for being a first attempt.

This set produced a lot of first for me, one of which being a partially exposed tree that had to be real wood and metal. The second was an Australian style saddle, which I have managed to never make in my 8 years of serious tack making.

After making a pattern I was happy with, I started making my tree with two carved down pieces of Balsa wood.  It's a lightweight and flexible craft wood, but next time I'll be using a harder wood and carving more shape into it I think.
 Using some brass craft metal (K&S Engineering found at Hobby Lobby), I made some nicks in what would be the front of my pommel.
 Then I bent it into the shape I wanted.
 I also bent the brass slightly before and after gluing (E6000) it to the wood, to form to the horse's back. I love brass, it's strong, bends easily without much fear of kinking, and is easy to solder.
 I made a cantal support out of brass sheet metal, and drilled holes to secure it to the tree with tiny screws and a little glue for backup.
 Looking at this tree, you might wonder where the stirrups leathers are going, the answer is a beveled out notch obtained with a #60 drill bit.

The next step was to fasten the billets, which are similar in style to US Cavalry sets.

 Obviously this doesn't look like something you'd want to sit in quite yet, so on to the next step.  After cutting my seat piece out of very fine and thin tooling leathers (.5 oz) I cut a thicker piece (1.5 oz) and took a thin oval out of the center. Then glued it to the top piece after dampening it and shaping it, so when it dried it was the perfect shape of a saddle seat.
 While waiting for it to dry, I attached my fenders to the tree. I made a notch for the stirrup leathers, and a tab to wrap into the gullet.
 Then I added the seat piece after it had dried.  You'll also notice a "Lance Bucket" on the stirrup, which I made first.

Looking a tad more comfy... but not for the horse.

Step one of finishing the panel, adding two layers of tight woven felt, and then trimming them up to look uniform.
 Much better.

 Then I stained the wood, since it looked too "new" to me, and added leather and brass rings to the back of the panels.

I really loved making this style girth.  It just looks like something simple and old fashioned that would last forever.
 Although I don't have photos of the progress, I equally enjoyed making this horse shoe case, complete with scabbard frog. It opens up with a real pocket, if only I had some Rio Rondo cast shoes to throw in it!
 I will write later about the rest of the set, thank you for reading! I'm really going to try and make 2017 the year I get back to blogging, so stay tuned!