Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds lies Colne Saddlery’s traditional leather workshop. Led by Master Saddler Maurice Emtage, the workshop caters for a broad range of requirements; from repairing all types of bridle work, harness and saddles, to more unusual commissions.
All types of work are undertaken, including bespoke made to measure bridle work, alterations to adjust off the peg bridles, restitching stirrup leathers, saddle flocking, saddle repairs and the work is carried out by Maurice, Lois Wybraniec or Charlotte Fountain who are also fully qualified saddlers.
Lois’s saddlery achievements inc. numerous placings in the annual master saddlers competition held at the Saddlers Hall in London. These include-
2017:Intermediate bridle class for any type of plaited reins- Lois made ½’’ plaited split reins achieving 1st place and the premium award.
2016:Intermediate bridle class for any type of breastplate- 2nd place and the premium award
2015:Intermediate bridle class for any type of roller- 2nd place, and 3rd place for the trainee bridle and atherstone girth.
2014:Saddlery Competition held at BETA International – 1st place for a foal slip
2014:Trainee bridle class premium award for a head collar
The Society of Master Saddlers was formed in 1966 to serve as a Trade Association for the craft retail saddler, but has since embraced all aspects of the Trade. The Society aims to safeguard the quality of work, services, training and qualifications of all those who work in the saddlery trade from manufacturers and retailers through individual craftspeople and saddle fitters.
Maurice Emtage has been on the executive committee for the many years and was the President in 2002/2003. Maurice has been involved in the formation of the saddle fitting course and is a regular assessor.
The Worshipful Company of Saddlers is one of the very oldest of the City of London Livery companies and the earliest surviving records of a Guild of Saddlers in London date from circa 1160AD.
Today, the Saddlers’ Company still has a close interest in, and involvement with its original trade. This is demonstrated in its support of the Society of Master Saddlers, its leadership of the development of saddlery training standards, its support of saddlery trainees and apprentices through bursaries, awards and prizes, and its promotion of British saddlery.
Both Maurice and Gemma (The directors of Colne Saddlery) are members of the Company.
The earliest reference to saddles dates back to around 700BC and the earliest known saddle-like equipment were fringed cloths or pads used by Assyrian cavalry. These were held on with a girth or surcingle and used breastplates and cruppers. From the earliest depictions, saddles became status symbols to show off an individual’s wealth and status, and embellishments were added to saddles, including elaborate sewing and leather work, precious metals such as gold, carvings of wood and horn, and other ornamentation.