The first item on the agenda of any new bridle making business is to buy some leather. In my opinion, the best leather for bridle making has got to be from J & E Sedgwick & Co Ltd in Walsall. Originally tanners themselves and still holding tanning qualifications, Sedgwicks now concentrate mainly on currying the already tanned leather, which is tanned using the traditional pit method at Thomas Ware and Sons in Bristol.
Currying is the procedure of turning the wet but stabilised leather into the product we all recognise as true leather by colour dying and stuffing with oils and greases. Sedgwicks pride themselves on consistency of their product, which means if a bridle of a few years old needs replacement parts then the new leather will match the older leather.
It was a real treat to visit Sedgwicks and see the leather being produced from the wet tanned stage right up to the polishing stage. We were amazed to discover the leather is worked on huge sheets of Welsh slate, 1 ½” thick and about 6 foot by 12ft large per single slab. As our guide explained, it is beautifully smooth and remains cool whatever the weather, but I would imagine moving them would be interesting!
The only leather used on IR Bridles not from Sedgwicks are the more specialist leathers, the patent and the thin padding leather.
I selected my own bridle butts from a huge pile of leather for quality, looks and length so I can ensure right from the leather up that IR Bridles use the very best in British manufacturing available.