When Lillian passed away unexpectedly in July of 2014, Anita's siblings agreed that out of the four kids, since she was most familiar with the saddles and Lillian's clients, she should handle the communications and return of saddles to their rightful owners. In the course of the conversations with Lillian's clients, after the shock of the news, the expressions of condolences and sharing of experiences and memories, the question would inevitably be asked, "What is going to happen to her business?" and those who knew of Anita's history with the sidesaddle community also asked, "Are YOU going to carry it on?" After serious consideration and soul searching, Anita decided that the best way to preserve Lillian's legacy was to provide the equestrian community with a resource for saddlery services with the same care and concern for her clients that Lillian had.
Anita had done some leather tooling as a teen and later coordinated clinics, trade show booths, gave lectures and assisted with saddle repair days/barn visits with Lillian, but stepping into the saddlery business is a big step to take. Understanding the concepts of saddle fit and design and actually building a saddle from the tree out are two very different things, especially sidesaddles. With saddle work already waiting to be done, Anita realized that getting a short, intensive training from an experienced saddler was the only way to prepare herself for a strong start and a successful transition. Researching saddle training began and the realization that this might be more of a challenge than originally anticipated. There are relatively few who train in Western saddle making and even fewer who train in English saddle making. Add to that that many of them are aging and retiring due to health issues. The options narrow to equally expensive options. Since the greater need is for English saddle repair, the focus should be on the English saddle making class first and Western second.
Having worked in the corporate world as an executive assistant in high tech, real estate, biotech and education, Anita had acquired an additional skill set that the average saddler lacks. The combination of these background experiences will no doubt equip her to be successful in the administrative aspects of the business. What is lacking, at this point, is the financial resources to make the transition.
Your contribution will support the preservation of a dying art and the legacy of a woman whose passion and expertise were respected the world over. With her passing, the legacy is left in the hands of her daughter. This equally passionate woman now seeks to bring her skills to a level that will serve the equestrian community as her mother did. In order to carry on this work so desperately needed within our community, we must raise funds to finance an intensive, short-term apprenticeship and other costs associated with the transition. Your sponsorship at this crucial moment will enable us to keep the legacy alive!
This is how your contributions will be used:
Training for saddle making and repair
- English and Western astride saddles
- English and Western side saddles
- Tack repair (halters, bridles, breast plates, girths, etc.)
- Custom fitting techniques
If funding allows:
Create visibility and networking opportunities
- Have a presence at local equestrian events
- Have a presence at select national equestrian trade shows and events
- Attend saddle makers conference for educational opportunities
- Diversifying product line to include other leather goods and gift items.
Please make a donation to support this endeavor.