Bespoke Saddler

A Bespoke Saddler is a highly skilled craftsperson that produces, alters and repairs saddles, bridles, harnesses and other equestrian equipment. They must have excellent hand-to-eye coordination, manual dexterity and an eye for detail.

What would you do?

A Bespoke Saddler uses traditional handcrafting methods to produce a standard or bespoke equestrian product. They use the measurement from a horse to create unique patterns. They need to know about the strength, tenacity and durability of leather, and are often responsible for the purchase, monitor and preparation of materials. They lay patterns, cut components and assemble the item, using hand or machine stitching. They have overall responsibility for the finish and suitability of the completed item.

Day to day tasks include:

  • Organising the purchase of materials
  • Reviewing the design and measurements to produce a cutting list
  • Cutting, edging, staining, pricking, marking and skiving leather components
  • Hand or machine stitching on different materials
  • Finishing and checking quality

Where would you work?

Bespoke Saddlers usually work in a small workshop environment, probably attached to a retail outlet or an Equestrian Centre or in a mobile workshop that visit equestrian centers. Workshops are usually bright, spacious and equipped with machines and the tools of the trade.

What would you be paid?

For a typical working week of approx. 39 hours

A Bespoke Saddler starting salary on average is £12,000-£14,000 per year
An experienced Bespoke Saddler salary on average is £25,000-£28,000 per year.

Pay rates vary depending on age, experience, location and the size of the company. Additional benefits may include pension and health care. Many companies offer overtime, bonuses or piece rate in order to meet deadlines.

Bespoke Saddler Apprenticeship: Employers by law must pay the government’s apprenticeship minimum wage rate. Research show that many fashion and textile employers supplement this rate of pay.

Will you need qualifications or training?

Experienced is preferred, however employers are keen to train new Bespoke Saddlers and qualifications are not required to enter this role. Training is delivered on-the-job. Employers may also register new trainees onto the Level 3 Bespoke Saddlers Apprenticeship.

For more information on this apprenticeships go to The Society of Master Saddlers

Qualifications and short courses relating to the Bespoke Saddler job role are available via City & Guilds, ABC Awards (Part of the Skills & Education Group), Pearson, The Society of Master Saddlers or the Saddlery Training Centre

What are the career prospects?

With experience, a Bespoke Saddler can progress to a Master Saddler position, they can go into a training, management or supervisory role. They may add to their expertise by training in saddle fitting. They could become self employed, running their own a saddlery business.

How secure is the future of this career?

The Bespoke Saddler is a fundamental occupational role within the Saddlery trade and is an integral part of an industry that contributes over £8bn to the British economy. Saddlery is part of the UK world-class textile manufacture base, which is growing, thriving and continually investing. Sector employment continues to grow steadily from 97,000 in 2011 to 108,000 in 2016, with an added 19,500 self-employed and research estimates the creation of 20,000 new jobs by 2020.

The number of UK textile & apparel manufacturing businesses has increased annually from 7190 in 2013 to 8075 in 2017 with forecast of further growth.

Textile goods exported across the globe continues to grow with export increases recorded at £250M in March 2016 to £273M in March 2017. UK Fashion & textile manufacture covers traditional craft to technical textiles and has a production value of £9.1 BN, add the wide fashion sector this increases to £28.1 BN sector – 4.7% of the total UK economy.

Where can you find job vacancies?

Vacancies are advertised across the UK with concentration in the Southwest, Yorkshire and the Midlands. Check out the latest vacancies on the site below:

Total Jobs
The Society of Master Saddlers
Horse and Hounds

Bespoke Saddler Apprenticeship vacancies:

Some apprenticeship vacancies are ‘open to application’. With details on how to apply within the job vacancy details, these can be found on the job sites listed above. Apprenticeship vacancies can also be found via the Find an Apprenticeship’ Service. For further information, advise and tips on how to apply for an apprenticeship vacancy see the UCAS site. (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) (England)

The websites above are external and the number of job vacancies may vary. Check daily to see new opportunities as they are posted!


See websites associated with the Bespoke Saddler Job role below:

The Worshipful Company of Saddlers
The Side Saddle Association
The Saddlery Training Centre (Scotland)