Reason #8 to order a hand made tree - special requests are honored
We are no longer building saddle trees. We have two saddle fit videos available on our westernsaddlefit.com website. Western Saddle Fit - The Basics, aimed at riders, is available either on DVD or streaming on Vimeo while the six hour series Well Beyond the Basics, aimed more for professionals but understandable by anyone, is available by streaming on Vimeo. (We left this website up because we have had many requests to keep the information available.)
When you decide to order a good hand made tree, you should be able to get pretty much what you want. How companies that make trees primarily by duplicating the parts make variations for special orders seem to vary in quality and effect, at least from what we have discovered by building duplicates of a few of them. But for a truly hand made tree, because every part is built individually for your order, doing something unique isn't a problem.
There are many "little" things that a tree maker can do to make things easier for a saddle maker to build a saddle the way they want to. Things like how much rise you want in a seat. We have our "normal" rise, but we lower that different amounts if a customer asks, and we have added bar risers on request too.
Different people like stock thicknesses compared to "normal". (Our normal swell forks have 3 3/4" of stock thickness.)
You can ask for the way you want the horn attached to the tree, whether it is lined up with the fork (our normal) or leaned ahead.
Or some people order a different shape to the neck or cap on a wood post horn. With a true hand made tree, it isn't a big deal to make changes to these things since we are making them all individually anyway.
As an example, this week we have a 15" wide fork ordered. If all I ever had was specific sized pieces, this would cause an issue. But for us, I just make sure the wood I glue up for this fork will end up at 15 1/2" wide rather than 14 1/2" for a 14" wide fork. In this case, I have a special pattern I made up for this customer when he ordered a similar tree a while back, so I don't even have to fool with making a pattern this time.
It is easy to modify a pattern and draw it directly on the wood. (I make notes on what I did when I do that...) but I have learned that it is better to make up an actual pattern in case that customer asks for the same unique tree again. (This has come in handy quite a few times...)
Sometimes customers want to develop their own fork or cantle shapes. Again, since we don't make trees by machine duplication but by drawing out each pattern on the wood individually, this is fine. We just have to get the shape they envision into a pattern that fits the angles, etc. that we need to make it work on our trees. We have a few ways of doing this, depending how the customer wants to work things. Sometimes we look at their pictures, drawings or whatever they send us, make up a pattern and send them a picture to OK or not. If they want to make it up themselves, I draw up templates with the angles and height/width etc. needed to match the measurements they want drawn on them, mail them out. Then customer can draw in the shape they want. Whatever works best. (And yes, some have turned out very "unique"...)
|Half size bird's eye maple saddle tree for display||Hamley Hangers|
|Portuguesa style saddle tree||Experimental tree for veterinary research|
Then there are the "fun things" people ask for. Building trees is not boring, but some parts of building them have become more routine. So getting a different order that makes us build something we haven't built before really is fun! That is why we have built some of the things on our Special Requests page. Rod really does enjoy trying new things, and so long as the customer is willing to work with us on them, he'll give almost anything a go so long as he doesn't think it will negatively affect function.