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Karen Lewis' Blog

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Introducing Karen Lewis

 

My name is Karen Lewis and I work as a Master Saddler and Qualified Saddle Fitter.
I have recently moved to Essex after having previously lived for eight years in Bedfordshire and before that, seven years in East Sussex.

My interest in horses started aged seven, when my parents took my sister and I for riding lessons. We both then progressed to working weekends at a local riding school both caring for and riding the school horses and also helping school private livery horses and prepping them for competitions.

After A levels at school mostly in craft subjects, I attended an agricultural college in Sussex and took a three year HND course in equine management with instruction on anatomy, physiology, veterinary care and riding classes. I already had an interest in pony driving therefore took driving exams whilst at college and eventually learnt to drive four in hand!

A succession of equine jobs followed, I have managed livery yards, run private studs, worked as head girl on event and show jumping yards, worked on driving yards, backed and produced many horses and even ride side saddle.

I have always had a great interest in the craft of saddlery and it was a natural progression from working as a groom to helping a local saddler with repairs and then taking a four year apprenticeship in saddlery in Sussex with a Master Saddler. I have City and Guilds qualifications in both bridle and harness making and also saddle making all at advanced levels.

I qualified as a saddler in 2002 after five years of training, and became a Master Saddler in 2006 – which is a great honour and allows me to use my own skills to train new students. In 2014, I completed training my own apprentice who is now fully qualified and works with a saddlery in Hertfordshire.

I think it is important to constantly keep abreast of popular culture and new ideas and to that end, I have trained with some of the worlds best saddlers in France, Italy, Spain and in the UK. I attend professional development and training courses whenever possible and have designed and helped to develop items of tack and equipment with other saddlers.

I have a new workshop in Abberton, Colchester, with full repair facilities for any leather-goods, and can mend and maintain all makes of saddle not only english saddles – I have worked on Western, Australian and also repair and refurbish Side Saddles and am a member of the Side Saddle Association a group dedicated to keeping the elegant art of sidesaddle alive!

I think it is important for a saddler to also be a rider and I have ridden and produced horses at county level, backed youngsters, showjumped and owned my own horses.

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March 29, 2017
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I am often asked when I first meet people what exactly is a saddler? For me its a way of life, my profession born out of wanting to be working within the equestrian industry but also being creative and working with my hands. I came to saddlery through luck really – it is a hard...