Miscellaneous Leather Blogs Category

Homemade DIY Leather Keychains

Posted on: October 29th, 2019 by Quentin Burns

Homemade Leather Key Tags

This leather craft tutorial will teach you how to handmake etched and stamped DIY leather keychains like the ones below. Key tags are a good project for people just starting leather work: they’re small, they aren’t expensive, they don’t take long, and they don’t require too many supplies. Best of all it is easy to learn how to make keychains with the many ideas demonstrated.

Finished stamped leather key tags.

I’ll take you through my process of making the etched cat key tag on the left and the stamped green key tag on the right.

Supplies Needed For DIY Leather Keychains

For this DIY Leather Keychain project you will need:

– A leather key fob piece. We sell key tag kits which include precut keychain blanks together with rivets and split metal key rings. If you’re making this project with kids or as a group activity, I recommend that option, because cutting the leather will be the most difficult step for a beginner.

If you’re cutting the tag shape yourself, you’ll need a piece of vegetable tanned leather. We use 7 oz tooling leather for our key tags, which means the leather is 7/64” thick. Anything from 6 to 9 oz vegetable tanned leather will work, depending on how firm you want your leather key fob.

I also recommend having some scrap leather or a few extra key tags on hand to practice your tooling techniques. You might be able to save money on leather by buying scrap pieces from a local leather shop or craft shop. We currently sell our scrap leather to local customers by the grocery store size bag for a small amount of money. The pieces are too small for belts and guitar straps, but plenty big enough for key tags and other small projects.

– A sharp utility knife to cut out the tag. Make sure you have a fresh blade, as this will make getting a smooth cut much easier.

– A round drive punch or other punching tool to make holes for the rivets. For more info on how to punch holes in leather, see our blog post on how to punch holes in leather.

– One medium rapid rivet or one medium double cap rivet.

– One split key ring.

– Supplies to decorate and finish the key ring. This might include stamping tools, etching tools, leather dye, acrylic resolene polish, edge kote and / or leather paints.

I’m going to cover a lot of options for key tag decorating. You can pick and choose based on your preferences and what supplies you have available. For example, I’ll include instructions for dyeing and polishing your tag, but you can also choose to leave it the natural leather color.

Cutting Your Leather Key Tag

If you aren’t starting with a key tag kit, you’ll need to draw a pattern for your tag shape. You can draw the pattern directly onto the leather in pencil, or cut a template out of paper or card stock and trace it onto the leather.

The easiest leather key tag to cut is a simple rectangular strip, like the tags below, which are 5” by 5/8”.

Two leather rectangular numbered key tags for cars.

We made these simple rectangular numbered key tags from leather for vehicle registry numbers and hotel room numbers.

Any shape can become a key tag, as long as it has a tail for securing the key ring. Below you can see our standard key tag shapes. Our standard round tags are 2″ in diameter, and our standard rectangular tags are 2 1/2″ by 1 1/2″. On all our tags, we space the rivet holes 1 5/8” apart.

If you’re confident cutting leather, you can get more creative with various shapes of your DIY leather keychains. The most intricate custom key tag I’ve made for a customer was in the shape of an acoustic guitar.

Three blank keychains cut from leather.

Our standard blank keychain leather shapes, with rings and rapid rivets.

Cut any straight edges first before tackling the corners. When cutting straight edges, I find it easiest to make two passes with my knife. I line up my ruler and drag my utility knife against it, just firmly enough to score the leather. Then I remove the ruler and follow over my first cut, this time applying enough pressure to slice all the way through. Make sure to hold your blade perpendicular to the table when you cut. It’s best to have a nylon or rubber cutting pad under the leather.

Cutting on a curve takes some practice. For tight curves, I find it easiest to carve off pieces in a series of tiny cuts until the corner is smooth.

Once your key fob is cut, you can punch the holes for the rivets using a 1/8” drive punch.

Tooling The Leather Key Fob

Now that your blank tag pieces are ready, you can start customizing them.

Creating Stamped Designs:

Wet the surface of your key tag with water on a damp sponge, and line up your leather stamp. Give the stamp a light tap with your mallet, just firmly enough to make a slight imprint on the leather. Then lift the stamp to check that your design is placed correctly and deep enough. If the placement looks good, dampen the leather once more and stamp again to make the impression deeper. It should slide back into the groove you’ve made for it.

Give the stamp a stronger tap and check the result again. If part of the impression is too shallow, you can tilt the stamp to focus the force of the mallet onto just one side or corner. Continue tapping and checking the impression until it is uniform and as deep as you want it to be.

Progress photos for stamping a DIY leather keychains.

Test your stamp placement by making a light impression. Then replace the stamp and hammer more firmly to deepen the impression on your DIY leather keychains.

If, after your first tap, you find the image appears slightly crooked or off-center, you should be able to adjust it somewhat. When you replace the stamp, twist it into the correct position and hold it there firmly when you tap it again.

You can get as simple or as elaborate as you like with your stamped designs. I could leave the tag as is, with just an initial in it, but I decided to add floral design just to show you some more options. You could also use smaller stamps to add a decorative border to your tag.

Close up of stamped design on a leather key tag.

I used a leaf stamp and a rose stamp to create this design.

Creating Etched Designs:

Another option for creating impressions on your tag is to etch them. Etching is a good option if you don’t have any stamping tools, or you can’t find one for the specific design you want. All you need is a ball point stylus, a pencil, and a piece of paper.

First, draw or print the design you want to transfer to your leather. Remember that the tip of your stylus is wider than the point of your pencil, so you don’t want to use a design with fine lines close together or the detail will get lost. For this tag you can see that instead of drawing a whole cat, I’ve used a few lines to give an impression of a cat, which will make the design much clearer when etched.

To transfer your design, dampen the leather with a wet sponge and lay the paper on top of it. Trace over your lines with the pencil. When you lift the paper, you will have an image on your leather.

Wet the leather again and retrace the image, this time with your ball point stylus. You’ll need to press down firmly and keep a steady hand.

Progress pictures of etching a key tag.

Left: my inital image transfer. Right: my final etched design.

Since the wet leather is malleable, it is somewhat forgiving of mistakes. For this tag I decided the cat would look better without eyes as if the cat is looking away, so when the leather was still wet I used a tool to smooth over that area where I marked the eyes and flatten it out again. You can also use your fingers to smooth wet leather.

Once you’re finished tooling or etching your homemade keychains, wait for them to dry completely before doing anything else with them. You can lightly blow them dry with a hair dryer to speed things up.

Dyeing Your DIY Leather Key Tags

On my stamped key tag, I wanted to dye the body of the tag while leaving the stamped impressions undyed. To do this I applied dye to a folded cotton cloth and wiped it lightly over the surface of the tag. Then I used a Q-Tip to clean up any areas that needed more dye.

If you push down too hard with the rag or Q-Tip, or if they are overly sodden, dye will seep into the impressions. I recommending practicing your dye application technique on a stamped scrap leather piece first.

Dyeing a leather key tag.

I applied leather dye with a folded cotton cloth and a Q-Tip.

If you want the entire tag dyed one color, impressions and all, you can instead apply the dye with a wool dauber or a piece of sheepskin.

After the tag was dyed, I applied neatsfoot oil which is a leather conditioner, with another cotton rag. This deepens and evens out the color.

For my etched tag, I decided to darken the tag only with neatsfoot oil. I applied the oil with a cotton rag, just as above. You don’t have to be nearly as precise with the neatsfoot oil as you do with the dye.

When the tags are dry, if the color is uneven you can use another cloth or a Q-Tip to add more leather dye or oil where needed.

Polishing Your Homemade Keychains

To polish the key tags using acrylic resolene polish, apply the polish to a folded cloth and wipe it lightly across the tag. If you press down too hard, polish may flood the stamped impression; and if you’re unlucky it may carry some of the color of the dye with it. If you get polish in the impression, use a Q-Tip to dab it out. If there is any discoloration from transfered dye, you can use a tool with a fine point to scrape the inside of the leather impression. We use a dentist tool for this.

Two key tags with freshly applied resolene polish.

I brushed on a light coat of leather polish with a cotton cloth.

Wait for the polish to dry completely before adding a second coat if you want the leather glossier – about 10 minutes. You can also choose to leave your tag unpolished, for a more rustic look.

Painting Your Cool Keychain

If you’re going to paint your homemade key tags, make sure you find a paint made specifically for leather. Leather paints dry rubbery, so they can bend and flex without flaking off the way an ordinary acrylic paint would. For this project I used edge kote, an acrylic leather dye, to dye the edges of my tags and also to paint the cat design on the etched tag.

To paint the tag edges, I used a sponge brush. This is the quickest way to get an even line and coat the whole edge of the tag. I waited for the paint to dry, and then burnished the edges by rubbing beeswax on them with a cloth.

Dyeing the edges of key tags with acrylic dye.

I used a sponge brush to quickly edge dye my key tags.

To paint the etched impression, I used a ball point stylus. You can use the same one you used to create the etching. You can also use a paintbrush, but I find the stylus gives me more control.

Painting an etched key tag.

I used a ball point stylus to paint my etched key tag.

You may need to apply two coats of paint, especially if you’ve dyed your tag a dark color and want to paint a lighter color on top of it.

Riveting the Split Rings on your DIY Leather Key Fobs

There are two ways to secure your rivets. On the stamped tag, I used a rivet setting tool to maintain the domed shape of the rivet. Hold the setting tool perpendicular to your anvil, and hammer directly downwards onto it. I usually give it two or three firm blows with the hammer.

If you don’t care about preserving the domed shape, you can also set rivets using just a hammer. Hammer straight downward onto the rivet.

Two methods of securing rivets in your DIY leather keychains.

Left Photo: I used a setting tool to maintain the rounded rivet shape. Right: Photo I used a carpenter’s hammer to flatten the rivet in the DIY leather keychains.

The Finished Custom Key Fob

Here are my finished key tags, with an assortment of other personalized key rings from around the shop. You can get as simple or as complicated as you want with these DIY leather keychains, from a basic initial to a miniature work of art.

Various finished homemade DIY leather keychains.

An assortment of finished DIY leather keychains.

If you make key tags using this tutorial, we would love for you to send us pictures to share on facebook!


Travel Money Belts For Men & Women

Posted on: July 25th, 2019 by Quentin Burns

How and When To Use Money Belts

You can find many types of concealed money pouches. I’ll be talking in this post specifically about a true money belt – a regular belt with a concealed pocket on the inside, used to hide money while traveling. First I’ll cover the advantages of these types of travel money belts, and then I’ll go over the recommended uses for them plus some issues you might run into.

3 Handmade Travel Money Belts

Three of our long-zippered travel money belts made of quality full grain cowhide.

Advantages Of Travel Money Belts

My case for the traditional money belt, over other types: it’s a belt. Other concealed pouches and attaching type money belts will affect the silhouette of your clothing. If your shirt is thin or you’re carrying a lot in the pouch, it may even be visible through your clothing. Wearing a pouch next to your skin for a long time can become sweaty and uncomfortable, as well.

With the traditional belt style there’s no need to worry about concealing the belt itself. It’s as easy to wear as a regular belt, making it the most comfortable money belt option. This means you will feel more natural when walking around in it. You won’t be holding yourself strangely or trying to sneakily adjust a hidden pouch, which could make you conspicuous.

The disadvantage of the traditional money belt is less vertical space. On our money belts the concealed pocket runs the entire length of the belt, so they have more horizontal space available than other types. The 1 ¾” wide money belts are roomy enough to conceal a small thumb drive. Nonetheless, you cannot keep everything in them. I discuss in the next section why money belts are best used in an emergency backup and not as a a daily wallet.

Lots of storage space in this long zipper travel money belt.

A travel money belt with a small thumb drive and folded money.

How To Use A Money Belt

The main purpose of a money belt is to prevent pickpocketing and grab-and-run thefts. Money belts and other types of concealed pouches are unlikely to foil a serious mugging attempt, and of course the belt can still be stolen when it’s off your body, if it’s been left behind in an unsecure room. Therefore, you should plan when to wear your money belt and what to store in it in order to maximize your security.

It’s recommended not to use or remove a money belt in front of others. If no one realizes you’re wearing one, they can’t make plans to rob it later. Keep cash for the day on hand elsewhere. Use the money belt to secure emergency funds and folded photocopies of your passport and important documents. If a pickpocket targets you, you should have what you need in your money belt to get out of a bind.

This function is especially important and useful when you’re moving between two stops. Once you’ve reached your destination, you can leave your bags in your room and your valuables in the hotel safe. But when you’re en route not only do you have all your things and travel documents with you, you are probably accessing it all frequently. That makes everything more vulnerable to loss or theft. In this situation it’s an especially good idea to have a copy of your passport secured somewhere on your person. Losing a passport in transit can become a nightmare scenario for travelers.

When you’ve reached your destination, if you find there isn’t a safe available you may wish to keep using the money belt this way. If you’re confident your location is secure, you might choose to downsize what you keep in it. However, either way you should keep wearing the money belt as your regular travel belt. That way no one will realize you have a money belt, or chance on an oppourtunity to steal it.

How To Recognize Quality Money Belts

When looking for a travel money belt that will last, you’ll want to consider the quality of the materials, the sturdiness of the construction, and the design of the money pocket.

If you’re buying a leather money belt, don’t take labels like “genuine leather” for granted. That only means the belt contains some small piece of leather. “Genuine bonded leather” is especially suspect, as this describes the leather version of particle board. To make bonded leather, they mix ground-up scraps of leather together in a glue solution to make a sheet of manmade material. It rips easily. Instead look for “full grain leather,” and make sure it is the only material used. The best part of the hide is the bend, which is where we cut our money belts from.

For more information on recognizing different grades of leather, see Jamie’s detailed rundown on types of leather belts.

For the buckle, look for something solid. Our gold buckles are all solid brass, and our silver buckles are chrome / nickel plated solid brass. Solid brass belt buckles won’t rust or snap like the white metal buckles often used in mass produced belts. The non-plated solid brass buckles are safe for people with nickel allergies. (However, people with nickel allergies who want to order one of our belts should still let us know. We will use solid brass rivets to secure the buckle, rather than plated steel rivets.)

Make sure your belt is designed to maximize usable space. On our belts the zippered section runs the full length of the belt between the buckle and holes. Some belt maufacturers only add a short 10-12 inch zippered section in the center of the belt.

The pocket should be easy to access and easy to get things in and out. When we make our money belts, our last step is stretching the zippered section with a bone folder to make the leather more malleable.

Where To Buy A Money Belt?

You can find different styles of men’s and women’s leather money belts on our website, all of which are custom made by Leathersmith Designs artisans. You can opt to have personalized designs imprinted in your belt, or choose a plain style for a more inconspicuous look. For color we offer standard black, brown, and natural oil options; or you can choose a vibrant blue, green, purple, burgundy, or red for traveling in fashion.

The money belts we make here are from strong, high quality full grain cowhide and can endure long, difficult travel. Likely, if you are embarking on long and difficult travel, you will want a daily belt. A quality money belt is a good travel belt option and a good concealment option in one!

Watch our process for handmaking our leather money belts in this video.


Finding Artisans in Halifax Area and Beyond

Posted on: August 2nd, 2018 by Quentin Burns

Discover Galleries & Studios of Local Artisans in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has a rich arts and crafts tradition. The beautiful natural scenery and the community-focused spirit have combined to make a place where local art is thriving and celebrated. Many artisans in Nova Scotia live solely on their craft, while others do it on a part-time professional basis. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or whether you’ve lived here for years, these resources will help you find new places and events to explore.

Discover artisan studios in Halifax / Dartmouth and beyond.

Halifax Art Map used to discover artisan studios in Halifax / Dartmouth and beyond.

Halifax Art Map

Leathersmith Designs is proud to be a featured location on the 2018-19 Halifax Art Map. The guide has been running since 2002. Leathersmith Designs has been appearing in it since 2016, alongside dozens of other amazing artists and craftspeople from the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

I called Keith McPhail, the advertising and business coordinator of the Halifax Art Map, to ask about how the guide started and where it is headed. I thought I had only a few simple questions which would take him a few minutes to answer. At the end of our hour-long phone conversation, I realized how much I hadn’t known about the Halifax art community. Much of my own city and industry are still mysterious to me.

That’s the mission statement of Art Maps: to de-mystify the mystery. Their goal is to make people aware of what’s out there, to get people through the doors of small workshops and studios. Above all, they ultimately want to guide consumers towards finding a piece of art they can fall in love with.

How Halifax Art Maps Started

In 2002, Keith was working for the city in the Tourism and Culture department. “Culture” was a new addition at the time. They didn’t have much funding or much of a concrete game-plan. They were approached by a group of artists who wanted to highlight local art, to combat a perceived lack of knowledge by the public. Thus the Art Map was born.

In its first year the map covered only Downtown Halifax and Dartmouth, and was focused on the tourism market. There was no money available from the city that year, so the project was funded solely by ads. The response exceeded expectations. They learned there was a lot of local interest and local discovery happening as a result of the map. Therefore, they decided to expand the goals of the project.

In the second year they received matching grants (one each from the province and municipality) for three years to develop the project (print layout, website, distribution). Later they added an annual exhibition. In the last six years they added social media, and the Art Map solidified into its modern form. Nowadays, the market for the map is half tourists and half residents of Nova Scotia.

How do they find Artists?

The Halifax Art Map relies strongly on word of mouth from participants. Artists recommend the map to other artists, and recommend new artists to the map.

Artists can apply to be featured at the Halifax Art Map website. The Halifax Art Map doesn’t have any restrictions on what type of artists can apply, but they do vet their artists for professionalism. They want to feature people who are serious about doing art professionally. The goal of the project, according to Keith, is “helping local artists and craftspeople make a sustainable living”.

Where to find Halifax Art Maps

You can find Halifax Art Maps at every featured artist location, at Visitor Information Centres in the HRM, and at some larger Visitor Information Centres across Nova Scotia. They are in Halifax and Dartmouth hotels, at the Halifax cruise ship pavilion, and at and the Halifax and Dartmouth ferry terminals. They are also distributed at conferences, to reach visiting professionals from all over the world. If you’re planning a vacation, Halifax Art Maps has an online artisan directory where you can search for artists by area or category.

Keith told me hotel concierges proved to be unexpected gold as a resource. They get to know the map, and remark on the changes and updates to it year after year. Even more, they are great at getting maps into the hands of serious art and craft lovers … AND they talk up the local scene.

The library and their branches were also a surprise as they help distribute maps to all their 17 branches. They help get it into the hands of locals as part of their mandate and service as information providers.

If you’re in the Dartmouth area, stop by Leathersmith Designs to pick up a free copy of the map. Jamie Hartling, our master leatherworker, has been a dedicated member of the Nova Scotia crafting community since 1975. He can give you a tour of the leathercraft shop and tell you all about the local leatherworking scene.

Creations of the artisan as well as useful and interesting info on the crafter / artist shown in the printed Halifax Art Map as well as on the Halifax Map website.

The Halifax Art Map in both print form and on the web displays the creations of the artisan as well as useful and interesting info on the crafter / artist.

Who is the Halifax Art Map Team?

For Keith, Art Maps a labor of love. Its creators have all worked in the arts themselves and are passionate about supporting the Nova Scotian crafting community. Keith (second from right) and Kathryn Fraser (third from right) are the core team. Together they do add sales, coordinate exhibits, and organize artist talks. As of this writing, there is a Halifax Art Map event coming up at the Halifax Public Library on how to buy art. To keep up with current craft and artisan events, you can follow the Halifax Art Map Facebook page.

Jane Lombard (far right) is their graphic designer and works on the Halifax Art Map part-time for about three months each year. Peter Eastwood is the webmaster for the Halifax Art Map website, and puts in about one month full time.

Then, of course, there are the featured artists and craftspeople. Every year, Kathryn stops by to talk with Jamie Hartling about the state of Art Maps. Art Maps began as a scheme by a group of Halifax artisans, and aims to stay true to its roots as a “community collaboration”.

Halifax Art Map release in 2016 listing artisans.

Jamie Hartling (leather artisan on left) attending a Halifax Art Map release in 2016 with some of the key Halifax Art Map organizers.

New Directions for Halifax Art Map

Every year the Art Maps team makes decisions on how best to keep supporting artists in their community. Every year they decide to keep the map in printed form. It is now one of few surviving publications in Nova Scotia. Although paper costs continue to go up and the format of the map is expensive, Keith says it’s important for the map to look good, to represent the quality of the art inside it. It’s also important that it remain a tactile piece, because the core buyers of art are familiar with a tactile world. However, the demographic is slowly changing, so the decision must be made anew every year.

This year, they are also considering a new service. They are looking into options for how Art Maps might help facilitate marketing plans for individual artists and small galleries. When Keith spoke to me he was getting ready to attend a seminar on the subject. He told me the next step is to go out and talk to members of the community about what they would want from such a program.

Nova Scotia Doers and Dreamers Travel Guide features Artisans in Nova Scotia

The Province of Nova Scotia Tourism publishes a comprehensive travel guide called “The Doers and Dreamers Travel Guide“. You can request to have it mailed to you anywhere around the world. You can also pick up the guide at any of the Nova Scotia provincial tourist bureaus. On the Nova Scotia Tourism website under the “See and Do” heading ,you can find a section on “Galleries, Shops, and Artisans”. As of 2018 there are 170 listed. While the Halifax Art Map focuses on artists in the Halifax area, this guide is province-wide. It features many small studios and creative artisans off the beaten path.

Artisans in Nova Scotia found on provincial website.

Viewing galleries, shops and artisans in Nova Scotia, Canada on the provincial tourism website.

Citizens of Craft

Citizens of Craft is a good resource for finding craftspeople and artisans in Nova Scotia, as well as across Canada. You can search by location, type of establishment (museums, studios, galleries, etc.), and craft type. There is a diverse array on offer. You can find sculptors, leather workers, fibre artists, glass blowers, furniture makers, metal workers, potters, jewelers, and more. Artisans featured on Citizens of Craft are all registered members of their provincial craft councils, which promote quality in craft.

Artisans from across Canada featured in this national craft directory "Citizens of Craft".

Citizens of Craft is an online directory of artisans from across Canada.

More Sources for Finding Artisans in Nova Scotia

Provincial craft organizations such as Craft Nova Scotia, Arts Nova Scotia, Visual Arts Nova Scotia and Centre for Craft Nova Scotia can put you in touch with the craft community and artisans in Nova Scotia. Even more, there are many regional and local organizations such as the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, Halifax Crafters Society, Dartmouth Handcrafters Guild, and Maritime Makers. Various craft shows throughout the year also provide a great opportunity to meet artisans coming to your area.

Discover the uniqueness and quality of individually handmade crafts. Besides that, nothing is more memorable when visiting an area than purchasing a one of a kind piece by a local artisan, or watching a handcrafted item being created before you in their studio.

Leather handcrafts tooled by leather craftsman in Dartmouth, NS. studio.

Artisan at leather craft studio in Dartmouth, NS shown hand tooling design on leather guitar strap.


Leather Pouch For Communion Pyx

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs
Communion Pyx Leather Pouch

Leather Pouch For Communion Pyx

Leather Pouch

The small leather pouch for this communion pyx was recently handmade for a customer who visited our custom leather shop. Importantly, the leather pouch has a sturdy leather lace so the small leather pouch can be worn around a person’s neck for safe keeping which is commonly done with a leather pyx case. A cowhide bag leather was used for the body of the leather pouch. The inside of the front part of the leather pouch is lined with a soft leather to cover the inside part of the metal snap. This is done to prevent damage by not allowing the metal snap to rub against the metal pyx.

What Is A Communion Pyx?

The word Pyx is rooted in Greek and means a container. Many centuries ago if you wanted to carry your coins to the market, you might put them in a pyxis. However over time, the pyx came to refer mainly to a sacred vessel.

The metal pyx is used in Roman Catholic and some Anglican churches. The host is carried in the pyx to people that could not attend the mass/communion church service. The idea is that by doing so, the celebration is extended to the whole community. The host is the bread or wafer consecrated in the celebration of the Eucharist. Mainly people that are sick or homebound have the consecrated bread from the church service taken to them. The pyx is like a portable tabernacle that is used to hold the host.

In the Catholic tradition, the pyx containing the host (communion bread) would be put in a fabric or leather pouch called a burse. The burse would be carried around the neck hanging close to the heart of the eucharistic minister or priest to take the consecrated bread to the infirmed.

Most pyxes are made of brass, gold, silver or pewter material. Usually a Christian symbol adorns the cover. The pyx is usually in the shape of a cylinder. The cover normally has a hinge and clasp to keep it closed.

Christian Gifts

Other Christian gift items we have custom made for members of the Christian community include personalized guitar straps with Christian symbols embossed, leather inserts for collection plates, leather crosses, imprinted leather neck discs for Cursillos, carrying cases for large bibles, imprinted leather wristbands and slip on leather covers for hymn books. The imprinted Christian symbols could be a cross, triquetra, fish or praying hands.

 


Horseback Riding – Horse Riding

Posted on: May 3rd, 2017 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Horseback Riding Adventure

Horseback riding is one of the exciting adventures a family can enjoy while vacationing. Part of our summer vacation led us to Boulderwood Stables in Ardoise, Nova Scotia, Canada which is only about a forty-three-minute drive from our custom leather shop in Dartmouth, NS.

Ann and James Wootton have run these stables since the early 1990’s. They expanded their business into a huge leisure and activity center. It includes a swimming pool, hot tub, day camps, birthday parties, red cross swimming lessons, tennis courts, play area in addition to their horse riding lessons and trail rides.  Our daughter enjoyed a couple days stay there years ago with her Girl Guide Trex group.

Not being experienced riders, we chose a one hour trail ride which took us about four kilometers though beautiful wooded trails and fields. We thought the 10 kilometer trail would be a bit too much for us. Horse riding helmets are provided for safety. The experienced guide led us through a route and speed that was tailored to our ability.

Horseback riding through beautiful fields at Boulderwood Stables led by Cassidy.

Cassidy, our guide leads us horseback riding through beautiful open fields at Boulderwood Stables.

The change of scenery on the many trails is interesting. Some trails are geared for more experienced riders and other trails are geared for taking the novice on.  The guide chooses the appropriate trail for her group.

Horseback trail rides going though woods.

Much of the horseback trail ride winds through woodland.

The Horse Stables

After the trail ride James Wootton showed us around the stables which has numerous horses. He explained about the care of horses which we appreciated. We enjoyed petting some of the horses in the stables.

Horse saddles are removed by James Wootton.

James Wootton unsaddles the horses in the stable after the trail ride.

Appreciation of Horseback Riding Gear

Of course being a leather worker, I was very interested in all the leather horseback riding gear used in the bridles, harnesses and saddles. Although I don’t make horse gear, my business Leathersmith Designs supplies harness buckles and other leather hardware such as D rings, bridle buckles and O rings to saddle makers, harness makers and leather repair shops.

Cassidy explained the many differences between English saddles, Australian saddles and western Saddles. The English saddles tend to be lighter and are geared for the ride positioning for jumping as well as dressage. The western saddles which have a horn but no knee pads tend to be best suited for reigning, barrel racing, pole bending as well as hold and tie maneuvers. The Australian saddles are designed for comfort and rider stability. This is important when horseback riding in steep country or when making sudden changes in direction when handling livestock. They are characterized by the knee pads that stick out on the front side. For securing young novice riders better in the saddle, Boulderwood Stables tend to use the Australian saddles.

Horse saddle variations explained.

Cassidy explains the difference in horse saddles. She points to the horn between the knee pads sticking out on the sides of this Australian saddle.

I enjoyed examining the saddle room which had lots of leather bridles hanging on the wall. As I spent a bit too long examining all the interesting leather gear, my family eventually got me out of this saddle room as their highlight which was the trail ride had ended.

Bridles hanging in the saddle room.

Saddle room with lots of leather bridles hanging.

Boulderwood Stables

Boulderwood Stables is certainly an exciting place to enjoy for the novice wanting a horseback trail ride or for people that want to be trained for more serious horse riding. What a wonderful way to spend a day as it certainly was an exciting horseback trail riding adventure.




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