Meet the Tutor: Saddler Line Hansen
Meet our saddlery tutor, Line Hansen, featured as The Equestrian Trade News Bench Saddler of the Month. Line is from an equestrian background and has always been interested in crafting things, her journey to becoming a tutor at Capel Manor College is certainly an interesting one!
When did you realise you had a gift for craftsmanship?
I never thought of myself as having a talent for creativity; I have always liked making things, and learnt a lot from watching my father create things when I was a child. When he was not working he would be in his workshop either repairing, inventing or making things. My father was very keen on us spending time together but that meant that I had to be with him in his workshop; I subsequently spent many hours of my young life holding things for him while the glue was drying! Perhaps that is where my creativity first started…
Do you have an equestrian background?
Yes, I am from an equestrian background. I came to the UK for a gap year when I was 18 to ride professionally in Dorset – and to this day I am still on my gap year as I haven’t returned home yet!
It was during my time riding professionally that I gained more and more understanding of the importance of well-fitting saddlery to ensure optimal performance and comfort of the horse.
How did you become a saddler?
In my early twenties I decided that I was not going to be riding professionally when I was 50 as it is hard work, in all weathers and with a chance of getting hurt. With my interest in saddlery, I looked at the possibilities of training in the subject and found out about the old Cordwainers’ College in Hackney but it seemed a long way away from Salisbury where I was living and working at the time. I also had five horses of my own which I was competing with at that time.
However, without my knowledge my boss at the time contacted the College to enquire about a place on the saddlery course only to be told that the course was full, she pretended to be me and begged them for a space, which resulted in her getting me an interview. She sent me to London for the interview, and the rest is history. I spent three fantastic years at the College travelling up to London from Salisbury every day.
When I was at the end of my third year, Master Saddler Peter Lewis contacted me to ask if I could come and work with him at Pointing Saddlery Bath, I worked for him for four years which was fantastic and I learnt a lot from him with regards to saddle fitting.
After working for Peter, I set up my own saddlery business near Salisbury. It was during that time I enquired about a part-time one day per week teaching role at the Cordwainers’ College as I missed the wackiness and creativity of the place.
After applying, I went on to run the saddlery department at the Cordwainers’ College. When the College went on to merge with the London College of Fashion, Capel Manor College made a bid for the saddlery department, and here we are today.
What are you most proud of designing and making?
I like entering the national saddler competitions, I especially like the President’s Choice Class as it often encourages one to think out of the box and use one’s saddlery skills to create something non-saddlery. As for what I am most proud of making, it is probably the clarinet case I produced a few years back. However, I think my favourite item is the little leather stacking toy I produced for the President’s Choice Class some years ago. I have still to this day not produced the perfect item!
What is the best thing about your trade?
Well, I love horses and I equally love working with leather. I also like teaching, and I am really proud to see past students of mine doing so well at the competitions every year.
What is the most unusual item you have ever been commissioned to make?
When I was working at Pointing Saddlery Bath we were commissioned by Clarks shoe retail company to cover 183ft of banister rail in green leather, stitched using cricket ball stitching.
How do you feel the industry has changed over the years?
The world of saddlery fitting is developing amazingly for the good of the horse.
As for education of the future saddlers, there are now more opportunities than ever with additional courses such as bridle fitting and flocking courses, as well as a lot of other additional training opportunities.
The whole COVID situation has led to us having to think outside the box and create hybrid training/courses for saddlery students which I think we will see a lot more of in the future.
Are you thinking about starting a course in saddlery? You can become a master of your craft with one of our courses.