Here we are entering the honorary saddlery, the main room in the honorary pavilion.
There are harnesses hanging from woodwork, all around me. They are horse and carriage harnesses, for both draft horses and thoroughbreds. They were all used mainly for parades during various events
So, here is a thoroughbred harness with a bridle and blinkers. You can see the national stud farms’ emblem on it… You also have a collar, crupper, reins, surcingle…
There are other saddles in the saddlery. One of them is a gift from a country that was invited to one of Pompadour’s Grand Week Events. That year, the guests of honour were Moroccan and the saddle came from Morocco’s royal stud farms
On my right, a very old amazon saddle as well as a Cossack saddle for shows and for voltiging.
You can also see a marble slab with the names of all of Pompadour’s directors, from the year of the saddlery’s creation to 2010.
There… as for leatherwork, whether you require 10 or 20 cms, you have to pull out what we call a « strip » and cut the entire piece of leather, if you want it to stay nice and smooth.
To cut leather, you need a round knife called « half-moon knife » in French.
Then, you can hand cut the leather like this, being careful not to cut yourself because these tools are very sharp. You start cutting this way, following the line you have traced. There’s another leather-cutting tool, called a mechanical knife. This one is pre-set on two. You use it like this.
Once that is done, you take a « formoir » (Ed : traditional wooden tool made of boxwood used to mark stitching lines), like this, rubbing the leather, which heats it up and makes a line on it. There !
After having used the “formoir”, you need a tool called an “abacar » to cut the angle, because if you are making a bridle or a halter and you leave the leather the way it was, it might rub against the horse’s fur and cause an injury. It’s important to cut the leather’s angle. The next step involves tracing a line that will be used for sewing.
Once this is done, you use a toothed wheel to mark the leather, by making tiny holes, before sewing it.
Now we need to get the thread ready. We use flax thread. Saddlers use two needles for sewing. To prepare my thread, I am going to need to get it ready, by applying bee’s wax to it. The wax protects your thread, like this.
I take my needle, and the amount of thread I need, like this, and make two loops… Back up again once you’re done… and then you pull on it. And now my thread is ready to be sewn.
I take the leather that needs to be sewn and pinch it. This stabilizes it, making it easier for me to sew, then I take my sewing awl and start by making two holes. Next, I take my thread – when you’re a beginner it is best to double your stitch – like this, you even up your thread, as best you can.
You always start with the bottom thread, you make a cross, start to pull on the thread, turn around and when I’m about to push the upper needle in, I pull the tread to avoid getting the needle caught in it. Now, I work around the needle and pull… There! And now you double the stitch, make a cross, pull, turn around, pull, bring the thread up front, then pull itagain. Now I have finished my first stitch.