What Does a Saddler Do?

People who work in the Saddlery trade are known as Saddlers (219C). A Saddler designs, manufactures, rebuilds and repairs a wide variety of saddles, saddle trees, harnesses, riding boots and associated tack for all equestrian disciplines.

Job Related Skills, Interests and Values

  • reading and interpreting job specifications, sketches and technical drawings
  • acquiring a good working knowledge of human and horse anatomy
  • cutting and stitching leather by hand using needle and thread or with a stitching machine
  • assembling and constructing materials; positioning covering and cushioning material such as cotton batting, foam rubber or mohair over the saddle tree
  • diagnosing, fixing or replacing broken parts
  • tricking, slicking, rubbing, creasing, punching holes and beveling, dyeing or burnishing edges
  • cutting and stamping decorative designs into the surface of leather
  • applying paint and liquid dressing to produce a glossy finish using a brush or sponge
  • using industrial sewing machines, leather clickers and presses
  • applying basic welding procedures
  • communicating effectively with customers, co-workers and supervisors
  • working alone or as a member of a team to get the job done

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

You must complete your Grade 12 education or equivalent, preferably with courses in Mathematics, Science and English. A Saddler apprenticeship is comprised of 5,440 hours of on-the-job and in-school training. The in-school component is approximately 560 hours. This is a Voluntary trade and therefore does not require an apprenticeship though many employers require it. This is the minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades. To achieve success in this trade you should be willing to update your skills with the newest techniques.

Apprenticeship Subject Pathways provides additional information for students/parents/educators:

 

https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/studentsuccess/PathwayApprentice.pdf

What’s Your Future as a Saddler?

Saddlers generally work a 40-hour week, sometimes in industrial plants. Some Saddlers are self-employed and successfully run equestrian businesses. Employers who hire Saddlers include:

  • Harness making companies
  • Saddler companies
  • Racetracks and large horse barns

Wage Rate

  • Apprentices generally earn less than Journey people, however as your skill and expertise increase, so does your wage
  • Fully qualified Saddlers generally earn in the $15 per hour range, depending on the size of the shop they work for and if they are self-employed
  • Potential exists for overtime during busy times

Self-Rating

Ask Yourself: Is Working as a Saddler For You?

Do you have good manual dexterity, an eye for detail, and enjoy working with your hands in creative ways?

Yes      No

Do you have the physical strength to manipulate heavy leather?

Yes      No

Are you familiar, and would you enjoy working with, horses and the equestrian disciplines?

Yes      No

Do you like to work with power and hand tools?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy learning about and applying new techniques on an ongoing basis?

Yes      No

Can you work well independently or as a member of a team to get the job done?

Yes      No

Do you have an artistic bent and enjoy working with silver or metal to create attractive designs?

Yes      No

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as a Saddler may be for You!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Horse Harness Maker
  • Horse Groomer
  • Native Clothing and Crafts Artisan
  • Welder
  • Goldsmith/Gemsetter

 

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