Here we talk to SMS Qualified Saddler, Bridle Maker and Saddle Fitter, Rachel Lok on how she came to work in the saddlery industry and that lightbulb moment!
The Perfect Career for Rachel
1, How did you first become interested in saddle fitting and saddlery in general as a career?
While at the World Equestrian Games I had a lightbulb moment when looking at all the lovely bridles and thought this could be the perfect career for me! I’ve ridden since the age of five and always loved crafts so it made perfect sense to combine the two hobbies.
2, Are horses your hobby – if so tell us a bit more?
Absolutely! I started riding lessons when I was young; my parents thought it wouldn’t stick after various failed attempts to find me a hobby but I fell in love with it and never stopped. My dad got bored of watching me for an hour a week so started to have lessons himself and we now share our horse Bertie who we’ve had for 14 years this year and he is very special to us both.
3, What is it about your job you enjoy the most?
The variety. I’m a saddler and saddle fitter so I get to enjoy the best of both worlds. While fitting you get to see wonderful places, meet interesting people and beautiful horses. Every day is different and you learn more with each partnership you meet.
As a saddler I get to be creative and imaginative and make all sorts of things ranging from bridles to bar sets to chairs to bags.
4, Are there any down sides?
It’s a very subjective job, particularly fitting, and so while we try to do our best for both horse and rider, the horse may disagree with our approach! Every saddler and fitter will be in the job because they love horses and want to do their best by them but we don’t always get it right first time, every time – we just need horses to talk to us please!
5, What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s usually an early start to be at the first appointment for around 8.30am to 9am, depending on the day I could see between three and 10 horses (though that is a big day!) and it may be to check saddles already owned or fitting new ones. There’ll be lots of driving around the beautiful countryside in between and most likely a lunch on the run. Most evenings I’ll squeeze in a ride on Bertie and often put my admin off until the last thing when I get back home.
For more information visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk or contact The Society of Master Saddlers on 01449 711642.