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How to Band a Saddle

A: To make a new saddle or a saddle that has been on a different horse form fit to your current horse. Also to keep the various parts fo the saddle laying flat and draping realistically. Model horse Saddles are subject to "scaling effect", which means that even though they are scalled correctly in reference to real life size saddles, the materials they are made out of do not respond proportionately to stress and gravity. That means they can be either weaker or stronger relative to their size than their real life counterparts and can break unexpectedly when weaker, or if they are stronger they may simply stick up or out straight rather than lie flat. Banding gently holds the various parts in a specific position for a long enough period of time, so that they will stay in that position for a while, usually long enough for a show. A banded saddle will look more realistic than one that has not been banded.
A: All kinds! My english saddles are made on a flexible tree made from a recycled aluminum soda can, so they can be easily bent and molded to a wide range of different size horses. Saddles made by other tackmakers may be made on a cast pewter tree, which is not flexible at all, and can actually be fairly brittle, so they will only fit a more limited size range of horses, but will still benefit with a careful banding to keep the flaps and skirts in place. Western saddles are usually made on either a cast metal tree or a cast resin tree. I use a resin tree for all my western saddles. Again, it does not allow for much change in back width, but the skirts and fenders all benefit from careful banding. Some tackmakers are making their saddles on trees made out of glued leather, and even those can benefit from banding.

A: You can use any stretchy material of convenient width and at least 2 feet in length. I recommend using elastic waist band of at least 1/4" to 5/8" width for best results. Cut a piece 2 - 3 feet in length. It can be purchased at most sewing or craft stores. If you do not have any stores in your area, I can sell you a piece for $3.00.

Banding Elastic - $3.00

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(Shipping is $2.50 in US, more for International destinations. You may add it to your tack order to combine shipping at no extra charge for this item.)

A: For flexible tree saddles, start by leaving a 4" tail at the beginning, hold it down on the seat of the saddle with your finger, and wrap tightly all the way around the belly of the horse and then cross over your beginning tail, and then around and around again, going over the various flaps and skirts of the saddle, making sure they are in the position you want them to stay in. You can push the seat of a dressage saddle down into the horse's back, making it deeper, while lifting the cantle up. Squeeze the pommel of the saddle tighter together to make sure it leaves a realistic amount of wither room. Common mistakes are banding the saddle too flat against the horses back, flattening the seat and widening the tree so far that it would rub a real horse's withers raw. I leave room for the stirrup leathers to hang flat in the position I want as well. Do not band your metal stirrups against your model's paint, as you could cause paint rubs or scratches. When all parts are in the positions you want, pull the end of the band tight enough to keep the saddle's shape, and tie it off in a slip knot or bow with the beginning end. You can pull much harder with a flexible tree saddle than you can with a cast tree saddle, it won't break. Make sure your band lies flat and there are no kinks or twists in it as they can cause indentations later when the band is removed. See the photo below for an example of an all purpose english saddle being banded. Leave on for at least 2 hours and up to several weeks. Remove immediately prior to your show class for best results.
A: Start the same as for a flexible tree saddle. Position the flaps and skirts where you want them to lie. Do not attempt to make the seat deeper or flatter, if you try to force the cast tree in that way, you could break it, or damage your horse. End by tieing the ends in a slip knot or bow. Leave on for at least 2 hours. Remove band immediately prior to your show class for best results.

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