Introduction: Miniature Tack for Model Horse

Is was the usual story:

Girl finds a discount thoroughbred for 4€. Girl buys the horse. Horse stands on her shelf for half a year.

Girl works from home because worldwide pandemic.

Girl procrastinates watching way too many Youtube videos about making tack for model horses.

Girl practices two days very effective social distancing by making tack for her horse while telling her family to stop blocking the light.

Step 1: Supplies


  • very well sharpened knife
  • cutting mat to protect your desk (or in my case our beautiful walnut dining table)
  • sharp pair of scissors
  • small pliers, I used flat nose, round nose and needlenose
  • wire cutters
  • pencil
  • permanent marker Try to match colour to the leather you are using
  • glue stick
  • craft glue that is suitable for leather


  • leather, I have bought scraps from shops that make leather goods and my local recycling centre cuts unusable leather jackets and sells them for craft material. Even small pieces will go far with this project. Thickness won't be an issue, since you can (and will) shave it down or glue into layers. Smoother the better.
  • something for paddings, I used thick black rawhide, because I had small scraps of it in my miscellaneous bag. Craft foam works as well. Colour doesn't matter, since these parts will be wrapper around with your cover leather.
  • (suade for kneepads, in earlier fotos you can see I made kneepads from suade, but got glue on them and replaced them later with same leather as rest of saddle)
  • craft wire, I happened to have wide selection because I'm a craft supplies hoarder. In the end, I used 1,0 mm thick wire for stirrups, 0,8 mm for bit rings, 0,6 mm for larger buckles and 0,4 mm for smaller buckles.
  • 2 crimp beads (for bit)
  • paper for pattern
  • thin aluminium (old soda can)

Step 2: Pattern

I did't have a pattern, so I started by making one. Look at real life tack suppliers for reference and inspiration

Fold paper in half and cut away small part so you can place paper on horses back, where saddle is going to sit. Sketch general form. I'm making a jumping saddle for my eventer, which has shorter flaps that go bit more forward, dressage saddle has longer flaps that go straight down and general saddle is something between those two.

Cut out two symmetrical shapes. First will be your general shape. Cut second in half, and draw parts on the outside to other half, and parts from inside to other. Outside parts are saddle seat, skirt and kneepad. Inside part is panel. Cut these parts. Cut seat part from fold to make it complete and symmetrical.

For bigger scale (or with thinner leather) you can make saddle flaps from two separate layers. I tried that at first (thus a pattern in picture) but found it too bulky. So my saddle has only one flap, that is made from two thin layers glued together, panel between them.

Step 3: Prepare Your Leather and Cut Parts

This was mostly an exercise about how thin you can shave (or 'skive') your leather.

There is a dedicated tool called Skiver to shave your leather down to correct thickness, but I had none of those. I managed with well sharpened knife and lots of patience. Correct thickness of your leather depends on your scale, for bigger scale (like 1:6) you can use thicker leather, for smaller scale you have to get it quite thin.

Horse I made my tack for, is approximately 1:24 scale. For this scale I had to get my leather for saddle wings down to 1 mm thickness, for straps about 0,5 mm thickness and leather for wrapping around parts like saddletree and panels as thin as I possibly could without ripping it.

Some parts I skived only partially. Seat is skived a bit from front, leaving back to full thickness. Panels underneath are also bit thinner on the front. All strap attached to buckles needs to be skived to about half their thickness from end to avoid bulk when folded and glued around buckle.

Leather tends to stretch a bit when skived, so it is best to skive bigger pieces before cutting. Straps can be skived after cutting as well.

Use pattern pieces to cut main body, seat, knee rolls, underneath paddings. You also need two carefully skived pieces for wrapping. Bigger piece needs to be a bit larger than your general form and it is going to cover all under side of saddle. Smaller piece is for saddletree and needs to be a bit larger than your seat. Leave some allowance for gripping and pulling the leather tight while wrapping. You can trim excess off later.

Scissors were better for cutting than craft blade. I also found it easier to use glue stick to glue patter on wrong side of leather to keep it in place while cutting. When I needed two similar but mirrored pieces (like panels and kneepads), I cut first piece, then without removing paper glued papered side to leather again. This way both pieces came out same size, but mirrored, and I needed only one pattern.

Step 4: Stirrups and Straps

Stirrup irons

For stirrups I used 1,0 mm thick brass wire.

  1. Make sure that your stirrup fits your rider, if you have one. Bottom of stirrup should be a bit wider that riders foot. Use flat nose or needlenose pliers to bend corners and round nose pliers to shape stirrup into parable-like shape.
  2. On top I made small loop inwards to hold stirrup leather in place.
  3. Bottom of stirrup has double wire.
  4. Use pliers to press loop into oval shape.

Use your first stirrup as guide for second one to get them same size. I also glued small pieces of tan rawhide on bottom of each stirrup as slipguard.

Stirrup leathers

  1. For leathers I bend two small buckles using 0,6 mm wire. Buckle shape is like angular leather B, where both ends of wire are left hidden on the middle.
  2. Slip buckle at the end of skived strap as shown in picture.
  3. Apply glue on strap
  4. Fold strap in half, around middle section of the buckle.

Step 5: Saddle Tree

Forming the saddletree

  1. Glue seat piece into aluminium.
  2. You can cut can aluminium with your scissors, just don't use your best ones. Cut along back panel and front, but leave two 'arms' on front each side. Leave also small edge on sides. Smarter person might make pattern for this, but I didn't.
  3. Using flat nose pliers, bend those side edges downwards along seat piece to shape your tree.
  4. Make sure that front arms follow the shape of your horse, and back of seat curves smoothly upwards. I ripped sides on my first try but got it about right second time.

Wrapping the leather on saddletree

  1. Apply glue on sides of your saddletree.
  2. Stretch that smaller, carefully skived piece on top. Apply glue on underside front, and wrap your leather around front edge.
  3. Cut small slit on inside corner and wrap leather around arms. Trim off excess leather, leave enough leather on back to reach about 1/3 of underside of your saddletree.
  4. Apply glue on underside back, and carefully using your fingernails press leather around to make multiple small folds. Try to avoid any bulging.

Step 6: Saddle Flaps

Glue kneepads on front edge.

Cut small slits on front for arms of saddletree.

Make stirrup bar by bending wire into rectangle. Make sure that both ends of rectangle are accessible when sadletree is placed on top. Use small strip of leather to glue stirrup bars in place. Use craft knife to make small slits to hold ends of stirrup leather in place.

Trim the back carefully and colour edge of leather with permanent marker, if needed.

Step 7: Saddle Assembly

Put everything together

  1. Glue skirts on sides of saddletree.
  2. Wrap end of skirts around and glue them under saddletree.
  3. Glue sadletree on top of main body and sadletree arms trough slips in front to under side.
  4. Glue panels on underside.

Wrapping underside with leather

  1. Apply glue, underneath the saddle, around the panels only. Stretch larger skived piece of leather and push it into middle of panels to form a gullet.
  2. Use your fingernail to stretch leather over front panels and push leather on front against main body.
  3. Trim leather carefully along edges of main body.
  4. Stretch leather around back panels and push back edge under panels.

Step 8: Saddle Girth

At this point I realised that I didn't have place for girth straps, since my saddle had only one layer of flaps. Luckily I found pictures of eventing saddles, that had long straps for girth. So that is what I decided to do. It also makes saddling much easier, since buckles won't be under the saddle flap. I also made my girth to be a wide protector type girth.

Cut two shapes for your girth and four straps for girth straps. Split both ends of other girth piece into two and skive ends. Cut ends of other girth piece round. Cut also small piece of strap to attach D-ring.

Bend wire into 4 tiny buckles and one small D-ring.

Glue buckles into each strap of girth piece. Glue two halves together. Put glue only on middle parts leaving straps unattached.

Use tiny peace of leather to glue D-ring to front edge of middle of the girth.

Slip girth straps into buckles. Fit Saddle and girth to your horse, and glue girth straps securely on saddle flaps, between the two layers of leather.

Tighten straps and trim to correct length.

Step 9: Bridle Parts

Using round nose pliers, bent wire to make two small loops as bit rings. I used 0,8 mm wire for this. Add crimp bead onto ring for bit (as if only end of bit is showing from mouth), and pinch it tight.

Using 0,4 mm wire, bend small buckles, similar to ones for stirrup leathers but even smaller. I made 3 buckles on cheek pieces only for decoration, and one working buckle for noseband.

Cut 4 strips to make 2 cheek pieces (one bit wider than other), noseband and browband. Cut 1 longer piece for reins.

Skive everything as best as you can. Make ends thinner, since they will be folded in half when assembling.

Split both ends of wider cheek piece, other half will make throatlatch. Slip your 'dummy' buckles to cheek pieces.

Step 10: Bridle Assembly

  1. Slip bit ring into split cheek piece. Hold middle of cheek piece on your horses neck and find correct place for bit. That crimp bead should just touch corner of the horses mouth. Glue cheek piece to bit. Do same on the other side.
  2. Glue buckle on end of noseband just like with stirrup leathers. This will help to put bridle on and take it off. Slid other end of bridle into buckle to form a loop.
  3. Take other cheek piece and glue its end around noseband.
  4. Fit noseband to its correct place and glue another end of cheek piece alike.
  5. Take your both cheek pieces and glue them together from neck (headpiece). Cheek piece with noseband should be inside while cheek piece with bits should be outside. Make sure that when noseband is up, throatlatch is pointing down. Glue cheek piece with bit into side of noseband.
  6. Fit browband into correct place, fold and glue it around both cheek pieces.
  7. Fit other end of browband alike, make sure its length is correct.
  8. Glue both end of reins into each bit ring. Glue together ends of throatlatch, make sure it is loose enough to allow you to pull bridle over your horses ears.

Step 11: Notes

You are ready to ride into sunset!

This was a process of trial and error, so I haven't recorded all my detours in this instructable. You may see parts in pictures, that were not used in the end. I also kept losing parts (and scissors, you may see me using different scissors throughout the process) and had to redo them. Keeping your desk clean and having tray for parts will probably save you some time!

I actually ended up with two saddles, first one being too bulky, so some parts may change from one step to another.

I didn't include many measurements in this project. First reason being to avoid conversions between imperial and metric (mm rules!), second being to avoid conversions between scale. My horse is manufactured by Schleich, and is about 1:24 scale, but you can fit your tack to any scale you want to. Probably not 1:1, though... Third reason is that I didn't actually measure anything, but mainly just estimated size by the look of it.

My tack set is made just for fun and play. It is not meant to be what some might call "live show quality". My straps are quite thick and I can live with that. There are amazing model horse tack makers out there, go and search for "model horse tack", but be aware that it is a very, very deep rabbit hole to fall into...

This is my first instructable, so please be considerate. English is also not my native language, so corrections are welcome, but mockery isn't. Feel free to privately laugh at my spelling and grammar, though.

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