Lance Zazueta's Apprenticeship Blog


Day 5

Today I took a day to work on some others things in the shop because I wanted the leather such as the gound seat and that needed to dry out really good from being wet with all the forming and stuff. I had two belt and one headstall order. One belt was for the D Bar M Western Store in Reno, Nevada and it was a basket stamp. The other was an acorn stamp for a guy. The headstall was for a friend of mine. I dont have pictures of the belts.

Day 4

On day 4 I cut out flat-plate rigging and rear housings. Fitted the riggings to tree to see how they look then took them off. Rear housings I just tied them together, fitted to tree then marked for stamping. Then cut out seat for saddle.

Day 3

Third day working on the ground seat i skived the number 2, 3, and 4 piece and glued and fitted them over the number 1 piece. Then skived them so there was no lumps or bumps. Also after the seat was done I cut out the saddle skirts and fitted and blocked then to tree. Then fitted the gullet on front of tree then marked it for stamping. But i did'nt stamp the gullet because it has to be fitted and dried as it forms to the tree. 

Day 2

My second day of working which i only work on my saddle 4 hours a day, 2 days a week cause I'm going to college, I placed all my ground seat patterns out and made my cuts. There are 4 pieces to cut out for the ground seat. Today I got the number one piece and soaked it in water which is better to work and cut with when wet. I skived all edges and made it nice and even so i could tack it to the tree. then I nailed a piece of thin metal tin on top of the number 1 leather. The metal prevents the seat from sqwashing in, say if the a cowboy was riding in the rain all day and the leather (saddle) got real wet, it just gives it more support.

Picture to follow on next day of work.

Day 1

The first process you gotta do is order all your supplies and leather. Checking your sides of leather are very crucial cause you do not want bad spots in the good pieces of where your going to be cutting. Then you place all your patterns out on the sides of leather for all the parts that will be included in the saddle. There are about 33 parts to a whole saddle. To cut the leather out, I used a round knife which is very sharp. Some parts can just be rough cuts that can be fitted and skived later but some have to be perfect straight cuts.

The saddle tree in this picture is what the saddle starts out as. The tree is custom made to whatever you order such as size of the horn, seat, cantle est. so they are not all the same trees. It's made out of wood then covered with rawhide coating. I chose to pick a tree like this one because it's more of a ranch/working cowboy type saddle and in fact my own saddle has the same tree in it.  

Saddle Making

I'm Lance Zazueta, I'd like to welcome you to my blog. Here I will explain to you the steps in building my first custom made saddle during this Apprenticeship Program.

About this Blog

Saddlemaker Lance Zazueta of Red Bluff, California, was an apprentice in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2010 with his grandfather, master artist Gaylerd Thissell.

This blog followed the course of Lance's apprenticeship with his grandfather, as he worked with Lance in the basics of building a saddle from start to finish. The apprenticeship involved Lance’s practice in using saddle-making tools, cutting leather, and customizing saddles with designs and stamps. The apprenticeship also included instruction on finishing the saddle with edging and oiling.

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