Haggis Trooper Saddle Repair #2 – Cantle Replacement

One day after a ride I noticed that the metal “arch” on the cantle of my Haggis trooper saddle had broken. It was interesting that I hadn’t noticed it while riding and I’m not even sure when or how it happened. The way everything is suspended with webbing it all held together pretty well even with the cantle arch broken in two places. This is a very old saddle with an (aluminum alloy?) silver-colored hoop. The newer Haggis saddles have a brass-colored hoop which is heavier built and of stronger materials, and I think pretty much unbreakable (see my story of when Rosie and I went tumbling backwards down a bank, using my husband’s Haggis, the only repair needed after that spectacular crash was a broken piece of leather).

This is how we replaced the cantle.

First, before untying and unstitching I took detailed photos so I’d know how to put it all back together.

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Then I unstitched the webbing, untied the leather strings, and slid the seat cover back and off of the “spoon” – that silver colored thing that is sticking up. Photo is of the underside/back of the saddle and you can see cantle arch broken in two places at the yellow arrows:

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Another view. Here it looks like a very wide saddle but that’s just because the arch is uninstalled and the panels are free to spread apart.

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We called Jeff Haggis at Haggis and ordered a new brass (alloy?) cantle arch for $75 plus replacement screws and leather string. I love that when you call this company you actually get a person named Haggis and he answers the phone himself! The new piece arrived in a timely manner from Canada, but when we received it, we realized it had a slightly different bend to it and a different angle to where it attaches to the saddle. I hadn’t mentioned to Jeff that we had a very old saddle. So we took the arch to the most excellent welding guy in  Livingston and he was able to put it in some kind of vice and bend it to almost match the old one, but the angle of the flat piece where it attaches to the panels was still a little different and it would have been very difficult to bend that part and keep everything perfectly symmetrical. Unfortunately I don’t have photos showing the gap it left as my husband came up with a clever fix before I had a chance.

Delmer made a small wooden wedge/shim out of tigerwood – very hard sturdy wood. It’s tough to tell in this photo but the piece of wood is cut at an angle to make up for the difference in angle between the arch and the panel. He also recessed a space for the rear bolt to set into so it could be bolted down flush and tight. Jeff had sent bolts but we used our own. The added advantage to this is it provides a little bit more clearance between the saddle seat and my horse’s back… she is a thoroughbred and built pretty angular and we really have to be careful of her backbone… which is why I switched to a Haggis in the first place. It was OK before but with it slightly raised it’s a bit better.

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After the hoop was bolted on, next I sewed the webbing back on. In order to do this without gargantuan strength and five hands, I untied the webbing from the pommel so I could more easily wrap the webbing around the cantle and stitch it on. I ended up just taking the whole seat right off (again taking photos first so I could put it all back together):

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Underside of seat (it was pretty cool to see how it was all put together):

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This photo shows how I stitched the webbing back onto the cantle arch with my awl.

(I haven’t quite finished this post but I’ve had several questions about this saddle and these are my best photos to show the structure so I’ve made the post public in the meantime).

 

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