Post-exam celebrations

15 Nov


I came home from my exam and ate two bowls of vanilla choc chip icecream WITH Ice Magic topping. Then I got started on de-yucking the saddle. Yes, this is how I celebrate my end of year exams.

Post fumigation

It had sat overnight, sitting in a fug of flyspray (which was on the blue cloth). I opened the bag, opened the windows, turned on the fan, shut the door and ran away for a few hours.

Then it was time to get cracking on that horsehair flock, which was bursting out of the saddle all over the place. It smelt and the weight and weird shape it was in made it hard to even sit it on the stand. OUT OUT!

Looks like small intestine protruding through a laporotomy incision…… too much Surgery study

So I donned a handy pair of theatre gloves and got to work in the spare room. Erica told me to wear gloves and I’m glad I did.

The five layers of the safe – quilted leather, quilted fabric, jute, horsehair and leather

I started by pulling out the stuffing from the safe, since it was hanging out already. The horsehair was actually sewn in, you can see the big string threads here. I cut them with my handy curved nail scissors, which turned out to be a great tool.

The empty safe. Haha, an empty safe……..

Emptying the safe was very straightforward and satisfying, hehe. So then I started on the offside flock, and worked my way to the cantle. I hacked off the linen, pulled out the bulk of the flock, then slowly snipped the string stitches that held a tightly-packed strip of horsehair in around the raised rolled edge.

Hello! My first mouse poo

And Erica was right when she told me to wear gloves. Mice had obviously poohed, and by the smell, weed all through this. Yuck.

Lots of debris, dust and pooh

Dirty work

But what’s this? A scrap of paper????

I was really hoping to find a maker’s label pasted onto the tree somewhere. I know it’s a cheap old Somerset, not from a master saddler like the ‘Old Names’ but I thought there must be a label somewhere. Nope. There was this scrap of what seems to be newspaper though. It has the letter ‘s’ and the bottom of a word on it. My camera won’t focus on it, I’ll find one and post it later.

Teasing out compressed horsehair from the stitches around the edge of the cantle, so I can cut them

In a few places there were nails instead of stitches which was annoying. Where the horsehair was compressed it was really hard to get out, it’s nearly solid. But my trusty nail scissors turn out to be great at flicking and ripping matted horsehair apart. Who knew?

Half done!

I had built up quite a sweat by now! But I didn’t dare turn the ceiling fan on because the dust/micronised mouse pooh was so gross.

The nearside cantle flock

I love the horsehair – look, you can see a curl of chestnut, a bunch of black, and some greys in there. From moulting horses in England around 110 years ago. I couldn’t help but imagine the horses being groomed and someone collecting all their hair in a sack.

And out it comes! But wait… what’s the grey thing?

And what’s this??? It’s a leather dome on the edge of the nearside seat. There isn’t one on the other side

Any ideas?

But again, what is that weird grey thing?

No it’s not a pooh. It’s a paper wasp’s nest

AN EFFING WASPS NEST. IN MY SADDLE. So glad I fumigated it.

The underside, sans linen, horsehair, mouse poohs, debris, dirt, dust and wasp nest.

The linen from the nearside came off in one piece

Anyway, after a disgusting vacuming of all the debris, it was time to pay attention to the sorry seat.

The butchered seat

All the exposed jute was snipped off, and the horsehair came out in clumps. I got out as much as I could from the pommel but couldn’t get it all.

A slight snag – horsehair nailed into place

I thought this would be a quick job. What I didn’t count on was that there were lots of tacks in the seat. And some of those tacks had been hammered through a layer of horsehair, compressing it firmly. It took me forever to get the horsehair out, and I gave myself blisters and ripped my gloves in the process.

After vacuuming

Finally! there’s a few things about this which puzzle me. There’s fabric wrapping up over the nearside but not the offside. Also, the strip of dark leather on the offside continues right up towards the pommel. But on the nearside it stops abruptly and sinks down sharply. There’s also lots of extra tacks here.

All the flock out! And in the purple bag

The photo doesn’t show it but that’s a very big purple bag. The saddle looks deflated but SO much better! Now it was time for a proper clean.

Product placement!

I’ve decided on the effax range from Germany. This is a gentle cleaner with some moisturisers in it. Since Erica and I already sponged the leather off, it just needed a gentle clean. I had just done the leather around the leaping head for this photo. Gosh this leather loves moisture!  I also flicked off all the paint droplets, which made a huge improvement.

Now it won’t give me diseases

Clean and smelling faintly of avocado oil – one of the main components of effax.

Next step is to go back to Horselands and get the effax oil, which is beeswax/avocado oil/other stuff. I once had a stint selling a 100% beeswax/avocado oil polish and the stuff is magic. Smells divine and is a great hand moisturiser, so the effax range really attracted me.

Tomorrow will be a liberal coating of the moisturiser, followed by a baking in my car. Seriously the temperature in my parked car today must have been 40 degrees. That’ll make it sink in! Then thin layers daily until I pack my stuff into storage – that’s in 5 days sadly. I’m back in January, and I will plan on doing regular oilings, depending how the leather drinks up the moisture.



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