Highly appropriately one of the last saddles I made before travelling down under was an Australian Stock Saddle. I had made one once before but that one had a swinging fender and a horn, so was more western in appearance. I had used a modified western tree for that one, with cut down swells. This one looks more like an english saddle but with the addition of the thigh pads called poleys. You can see a picture of it in progress in a previous post.
So with a new tree must come a new pattern. This one was pretty tricky given the skirts are combined with the flap. So the cut-out for the stirrup bars must be in the right place and the flap must fit over the poleys with no creases or rucks. Took a bit of time to get it right. I then added the stitchmarks, the slot for the overgirth and some decorative tooling at the bottom of the flaps. I love little subtle details like the tooling that really brings it alive. I say tooling, I should say carving, as I don't tend to use stamps unless I think they're properly in scale.
The panels were interesting to make. I used felt as most aussie saddles have a serge panel (or a western-style sheepskin panel). They were a little tricky to get symmetrical but seems to have worked. An aussie saddle sits quite high above a horse's back compared to english saddles, espcially when new and then they can settle by a couple of inches when used regularly. That way the serge moulds itself to the horses back. This way, you didn't have to be so precise when ordering a new saddle. Given the distances involved in bush travel you can see why someone would want a saddle to fit right straight out the box.
Back to my saddle. I got the colour wrong. I only kind of realised it once I had attached the flaps, but it just wasn't red enough. So this saddle is a prototype, I'll probably keep it for myself. The next one will be in the right colour!