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!