I passed the exam, can you believe it? I know I’m a little late to the party announcing it on my blog but I wanted to let you all know that last month (May), I was in Salisbury, Wiltshire for my final week of training at The Saddlery Training Centre.
Both the practical and theory exams for my Level 3 Saddle Making course were planned to start on Friday morning. So a whole four days were used to complete the saddle and prep it for the exam.
Anticipated to be the last saddlery exam I will take as I have completed the City & Guilds Bridle and Saddle making courses at both level 2 and 3, which is enough for me to qualify as a Saddler, and be registered as one, with the Society of Master Saddlers.
The other exam, Harness Making, I have no real interest in learning if I’m completely honest, but never say never. I suppose I could undertake it at a later date if I really wanted to.
After a relatively easy week of finishing off my Level 3 saddle, a 17.5″ GP in brown, I am happy to report that I passed all the exam criteria.
It was touch and go if I’d finish it in the time limit set but somehow I managed it by the skin of my teeth.
Four whole years of hard work, juggling the family and our finances to the absolute max and still coming out with a pass has me all brimming with pride. It’s been a long time coming and I’m so proud of myself and I don’t care if that sounds boastful.
A Few ‘Thank You’s’
I’d like to thank my trainer, mentor and saddler friend, Mark Romain who along with his wife Dawn run The Saddlery Training Centre like clockwork. Without his guidance, teaching and constructive criticism I wouldn’t be the saddler I am today.
I do not have a Master saddler looking over my shoulder every 5 minutes, nor on hand to ask questions, even the silly ‘I should really know that answer‘ questions, but Mark has been there through every moment of my training and forever I will be indebted to him.
Thank you to Laurence Pearman of Cirencester Saddlers, who was the assessor for all our work throughout the course. He has given great advice and tips along the way which is always great to get another Master’s opinion on things. He is also an excellent Saddle Fitter 🙂
Thank you to The Worshipful Company of Saddler at Saddlers Hall in London who provide bursary funds to those of us who are eligible. Without these funds, I for one, would not have been able to complete the training weeks as consistently as I did.
Thank you to Hazel Morley from the Society of Master Saddlers who works tirelessly and is always available for a chat or an email exchange.
Finally, thank you to every Master, Qualified and Trainee Saddler (too many to mention individually) who have provided me with a little bit of their wisdom along my journey and been kind enough to help me when I have needed it both on and off line.
My journey has been relatively lonely particularly because I don’t have a Master to keep me in check, telling me to do better, so the Saddlers who have been, and continue to be, at the end of a phone or an email have made my journey both enjoyable and achievable.
Well, first things first, I am going to get some Lady Saddler orders up-to-date that I have had to delay due to everything else that has been going on, then I will start to frantically save for a couple of side saddle techniques training weeks I have booked for July and September of this year (2019).
These two training weeks are not City & Guilds certified courses so I am not eligible for any bursary funds. However, the saddler techniques that I shall be learning will be so important for any side saddle repair work I may receive in future, not to mention the fact that the trainer is an original employee of Wilton & Butler Side saddle makers from the early 1900s and what he doesn’t know about side saddles isn’t worth knowing and being in his 80’s I fear, sadly, he won’t be teaching for much longer so I really want to get taught by him before it’s too late.
I do also have some other courses provisionally booked for next year  which are quite different
Do you want to find out how to become a saddler?
Are you interested in finding out how to start a journey on becoming a Saddler?
If you are young and/or you can get an apprenticeship with a Master Saddler then your journey will be relatively easier than what mine has been but if you are an adult in full-time work, then it just needs a little more thought and a deep pocket because you are usually required to pay the bulk of the fees and other costs yourself.
Take a read of this blog I wrote last year, it is sure to give you some ideas of which road to take.
Take care, Clair x