Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles

Legendary luxury leather purveyor Hermès began as a harness maker in 1837 and moved into saddles in 1903. The custom designs, handcrafted and hand sewn in their Faubourg St-Honoré ateliers, were quickly adopted by the cavalry officers of France’s famed Cadre Noir, the elite equestrian corps of the national military riding school at Saumur, in the Loire Valley. Since then, six generations of master saddlers have passed on their expertise. Still crafted in the very same way, with a distinctive hand-sewn saddle stitch, Hermès saddles are now the ne plus ultra of professional and competitive international riders as well as amateur equestrians. Riders rave about the saddles’ perfect balance and the inimitable “close contact” with the horse that results from the made-to-measure designs. All the details, from the choice of leathers-buffalo, cow or calf-to the width of the seat and length of the flaps are carefully thought out and measured. Every riding discipline-dressage, hunter-jumper, polo, leisure and cross-country-has one or several specially adapted models, and there’s room for personal quirks: among the historic saddles in the Hermès museum is a small pink suede special made for the late Philadelphia socialite Tootie Widener Wetherill when she was a child. Some five hundred saddles, each iron-branded with a serial number and recorded in a registry, are produced each year, and from the classic Steinkraus (popular with Americans) to the latest Brasilia, each one sports the house’s signature: a seat edged with orange goatskin piping. Priced from €3,350 to €3,950, custom special-order saddles take two weeks.


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