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Combine your passion for horses with a creative course at London’s environmental college!

Capel Manor College offers the only full-time saddlery course in Europe, where you can learn traditional skills in making handcrafted saddles, bridles, harnesses and other leather accessories.

The prestigious Worshipful Company of Cordwainers’ Diploma in Saddle, Harness and Bridle Making starts this September at our College’s Enfield Campus. This course will introduce you to the traditional and modern production methods of the saddlery industry. If you have an artistic flair, good business sense and are interested in horses and horse riding then this is the ideal course for you.

Our students go on to work in a wide range of careers that include: making, selling, restoring and repairing saddles, bridles, harnesses and associated leather goods. You could work in the leather or fashion industries designing and creating leather goods, costumes and accessories.

 

 

 

 

Check out our success story…

Charlie studied saddlery during his time at Capel Manor College.

“My school’s sixth form led me to creative and hands-on subjects and that is when I knew I wanted to study something creative and work with my hands. I chose Capel Manor College because it was the only place with a two-year saddlery course and also I went to look around and loved the place.

My tutors were amazing and incredibly supportive. They made me believe in myself as I found something I was good at. I really enjoyed the making aspect of the course especially. I learned so much and I gained the fundamental skills in leatherwork to kick start my career. Capel Manor College is the most beautiful place to study because of the Gardens and the building. We were especially fortunate to be working in the old stable block. It is a great atmosphere to have learned in and I met some great people. The other thing I really liked about the College is the wide range of courses they offer. 

After I left the College, I loved leatherwork but did not necessarily want to work in the equine world. I now make bespoke leather goods for private clients as well as other companies and have just launched my first made-to-order collection using leather sourced from British tanneries. I like to think you can see my saddlery background in the look of the collection. Capel Manor College started a very clear path to help me get to where I am today, and it is something I will forever be grateful for.”

Meet the tutor...



 

Meet our saddlery tutor, Line Hansen, featured as The Equestrian Trade News Bench Saddler of the Month. Line is from an equestrian background and has always been interested in crafting things, her journey to becoming a tutor at Capel Manor College is certainly an interesting one!

When did you realise you had a gift for craftsmanship? 

I never thought of myself as having a talent for creativity; I have always liked making things and learnt a lot from watching my father create things when I was a child. When he was not working he would be in his workshop either repairing, inventing or making things. My father was very keen on us spending time together but that meant that I had to be with him in his workshop; I subsequently spent many hours of my young life holding things for him while the glue was drying! Perhaps that is where my creativity first started…

Do you have an equestrian background? 

Yes, I am from an equestrian background. I came to the UK for a gap year when I was 18 to ride professionally in Dorset – and to this day I am still on my gap year as I haven’t returned home yet!

It was during my time riding professionally that I gained more understanding of the importance of well-fitting saddlery to ensure optimal performance and comfort of the horse.

How did you become a saddler?

 

In my early 20s, I decided that I was not going to be riding professionally when I was 50 as it is hard work, in all weather and with a chance of getting hurt. With my interest in saddlery, I looked at the possibilities of training in the subject and found out about the old Cordwainers’ College in Hackney. Still, it seemed a long way away from Salisbury where I was living and working at the time. I also had five horses of my own which I was competing with at that time.

However, without my knowledge my boss at the time contacted the College to enquire about a place on the saddlery course only to be told that the course was full, she pretended to be me and begged them for a space, which resulted in her getting me an interview. She sent me to London for the interview, and the rest is history. I spent three fantastic years at the College travelling up to London from Salisbury every day.

When I was at the end of my third year, Master Saddler Peter Lewis contacted me to ask if I could come and work with him at Pointing Saddlery Bath, I worked for him for four years which was fantastic and I learnt a lot from him with regards to saddle fitting.

After working for Peter, I set up my own saddlery business near Salisbury. It was during that time I enquired about a part-time one day per week teaching role at the Cordwainers’ College as I missed the wackiness and creativity of the place.

After applying, I went on to run the saddlery department at Cordwainers’ College. When the College went on to merge with the London College of Fashion, Capel Manor College made a bid for the saddlery department, and here we are today.

What are you most proud of designing and making? 

I like entering the national saddler competitions. I especially like the President’s Choice Class as it often encourages one to think out of the box and use one’s saddlery skills to create something non-saddlery. As for what I am most proud of making, it is probably the clarinet case I produced a few years back. However, I think my favourite item is the little leather stacking toy I produced for the President’s Choice Class some years ago. I have still to this day not produced the perfect item!

What is the best thing about your trade?

Well, I love horses and I equally love working with leather. I also like teaching, and I am really proud to see past students of mine doing so well at the competitions every year.

What is the most unusual item you have ever been commissioned to make?

When I was working at Pointing Saddlery Bath we were commissioned by Clarks shoe retail company to cover 183ft of bannister rail in green leather, stitched using cricket ball stitching.

How do you feel the industry has changed over the years?  

The world of saddlery fitting is developing amazingly for the good of the horse.

As for the education of the future saddlers, there are now more opportunities than ever with additional courses such as bridle fitting and flocking courses, as well as a lot of other additional training opportunities.

The whole COVID situation has led to us having to think outside the box and create hybrid training/courses for saddlery students which I think we will see a lot more of in the future.

Find out more - register for our Open Day on Saturday 11 June.