Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Throwback Wednesday

(Because my life has predictably exploded with work to prepare for the impending doom that is classes next week, thrusting me into the end-of-summer, "savor every beautiful moment" mode that just does not wait for Thursday to write a Throwback post. Apologies.)

Going back to school always makes me feel nostalgic for the years when the first day of school meant shiny new pencils and picking out the perfect outfit and groaning and rolling my eyes when my mom would park me by my brother on the front step and force us to smile while holding up our grade number on our fingers while she took a picture.

In retrospect, these pictures fall into one of two camps: adorable (elementary school days of missing teeth and a backpack bigger than I was), or cringe-worthy (seventh to tenth grade is a weird time for everyone, okay?).

Looking back at some of the tack I've made in the past, the same camps kind of apply.

This could possibly be the first real, honest, effort-was-required English (dressage) saddle I ever made. It's kind of falling apart now, and it looks like its paper clip stirrups have since been looted, but I've kept it because I find it slightly adorable. I mean, the thing is made of canvas painted black. The buckles on the girth are made of green floral wire because that's the only wire I could find in the garage. I'd read Anna Kirby's tutorial on some forum (Fallen Leaves, I wanna say?) about how to make an English saddle, and rolled with it. (Even then, though, I knew I didn't want to mess with sweat flaps- good call, Past Me.)

Another beauty from the Canvas Era, complete with paper clip stirrups.

Western saddles were hard and scary, but medieval side saddle chair saddles? I was all over it. (I actually kind of wish I could find this little weirdo again...) 

No buckle on the "bridle" but I took the time to add a keeper?

I pretty much put off buying leather for as long as I possibly could. I was (still am to some extent) a very thrifty person, and I knew that I wanted to try and get as much experience and skill with mini tack I could before I actually invested any cash money in it.

Such professional (iPhone) photography!

Skip forward to 2012: check out that sexy saddle. Sure, the paint dot that was supposed to be the nailhead is smeared all over, and we're still sticking with the paper clip stirrups, but it's leather! (Going through my Pictures Library, I had this under "Saddleseat" which at first glance is fine but now that it's big those chunky knee rolls are more obvious...)

2012 was really when I got hooked on this mini tack nonsense. I learned more about tack making, tack selling, live showing, and the hobby in general in that year than I probably collectively have since. Apart from that one Anna Kirby tutorial (which wasn't nearly as complete or awesome as her currently offered PDF one), I pretty much learned purely through trial and error. What worked, what didn't, how I could improve, etc.

And I finally experimented with cast stirrups.

(This is so therapeutic, I feel like I'm looking back through my yearbooks.)

Look at those fancy irons! All rolled up and everything!

I gained so much confidence, I even dabbled in Western and big scales. I remember thinking how incredibly cute and clever this picture was. Oh, Past Me.

I was really productive, having a lot of fun, learning loads, and completely hooked on mini tack. Which is why it's weird how my productivity in 2013 was nonexistent; it was a year when real life just kind of sucks up hobby life and spits it out. Injury, sickness, hospitalization, disease, death in the family... I think everyone has that one year that they can confidently look back on and say, "Yep, that sucked."

Which brings us more or less to now.

For my confidence's sake, I need a side-by-side comparison of my progress...

That's so satisfying. I wonder what the "after" picture will look like in another four years!

That's it for the Throwback- hope that was as adorable and/or cringeworthy as you'd hoped it would be. To all of you heading back to any level of school in the near future, good luck with the coming weeks and the coming year. Hope your pencils are shiny.

Bold text before the random updates:

  • The racing set is also still available, yours for $40, which includes postage to anywhere in the US.
  • I'm currently (slooooowly) working on a bridle for an order for J, and not much else. That GP English set I promised as a sale piece in August doesn't look like it's going to happen as soon as I thought it would. Right now, I'm getting studio work in when I can and not forcing it- I'm focusing on transitioning back to a school schedule and not stressing myself out too much. It's all chill. Lotsa deep breaths.
  • I purposefully made this post with all these old pictures now, because as part of transitioning back into classes I could very possibly be transitioning to a new laptop in the very near future. This, on top of my school schedule, just means I might be a little slower in updating the blog as I work through getting everything switched over to the new machine, etc. During the year, I expect to be posting here more like once a week, instead of every two or three days. Darn education!
  • And because of my full schedule, I doubt I'll be able to make it to as many live shows as I'd like, so I've been noodling on trying out photo showing... MEPSA has a Novice show that doesn't seem too scary? I've never done any photo showing before, so if any veteran showers have any tips or advice on getting started, that'd be much appreciated. :)
  • I've just been informed that all the links under "Other Cool People" were broken- all fixed now! I highly recommend you go check those amazing people out, if you haven't already.


  1. Awesome post! Those pictures are amazing. I especially love the one of all the saddles on your hands. Someday when I've made enough saddles I'll have to take one like it :)

    I also resisted buying good leather for a long time. I've used recycled leather from gloves, vests, etc. for all my English saddles so far. I like the price and not having to dye the stuff (I hate dying!) but it is usually harder to skive and work with too. Alas, tradeoffs.

    I highly recommend MEPSA for photo showing- they are really well run, fun, and everyone is very helpful. The Novice Division is very forgiving and a great way to get started. I graduated to the Open Division but I really need to work on taking some more pictures. It's on my hobby to-do list right next to "start blogging again".

    Good luck with school!

  2. I always love progress pictures and like you love seeing the old and new side by side to emphasize the change - you've come so far and personally I can't wait to see the next four years of progress either!

  3. I used to have one of your canvas saddles, I thought it was ingenious! :)
    Your progress is so beautiful! I can't see how you could possibly get much better than the amount of detail you put into your tack now but I wouldn't put it past you!

  4. The progress you have made is exceptional! I wish my "first" saddle looked as nice as yours, and I REALLY wish my current ones looked like yours. I personally like the picture of all the saddles on your fingers. :)

  5. So neat seeing them all laid out like that! Love to see the incredible change and progress you have made over the years. Seeing all the tiny saddles on your hand is super cute :)