Making the panels

STAGE THREE OF THE PRODUCTION PROCESS

The saddle panels are made in pairs and sit directly on the horse’s back. They must fit the horse perfectly, which requires special attention. The panels are the part of the saddle most likely to be altered to match the horse’s growth and shape. Harnessing our desire to innovate, we have developed our very own panel design. DTA (Design and Technology by Antarès) panels ensure the saddle is perfectly adapted to the horse’s back. Their shape provides the maximum surface area for greater contact and shock absorption across the horse’s back.

Panel structure

Each panel is mounted in a piece of wool felt split into three parts: The back line, udder and nose. Their shape and size matches the horse’s measurements taken at the fitting session. A “tree shoe” is sewn in to the wool felt to position the tree for assembly. Padding is added to the wool felt panel and then covered in memory foam. Excess foam is trimmed and the edges are sanded to match the panel. Sanding is a technical procedure that tailors the saddle to the exact shape of the horse’s back. Each pair of panels is checked and inspected. They must be perfectly symmetrical, rounded and match the horse’s measurements.
The technique used to cover the panel in leather varies according to the type of panel (DTA or classic).

Wet leather

This first technique uses moistened leather. The piece of leather is immersed in hot water to make it easier to work with and then gradually attached to the panel structure. Any excess leather is trimmed to leave just the right amount. The leather part is then laced to the panel starting from the back line. The udder and nose parts are the most difficult to lace. The leather must be sufficiently stretched and flattened to remove any wrinkles and creases so that the exposed part of panel is perfectly smooth.

Additional DTA Panel stitching

The second technique is specific to DTA panels which have a different shape. Their larger contact area requires additional stitching. The saddle-maker works with two pieces of leather rather than one. First, they attach both pieces to the panel to trace the curves. The leather is then cut to the exact shape. Both pieces are stitched together along the outlines drawned beforehand. The subsequent “sock” is then placed on the panel, trimmed and attached using the above technique. This procedure using additional stitching helps remove any wrinkles in the leather.