Every few weeks I take a little trip up to Walsall to collect my favourite best bridle leather from J & E Sedgwicks which allows me to personally select the leather that will be handcrafted into IR Bridles. The main reasons I do this journey is to be able to guarantee I buy the best hides (butts) and to select the longest butts on offer so I can make reins up to 60″.
Since entering the industry I have seen standard length bridle butts (circa 65″ to 70″) become less common because the raw material, the cow hide, is just not long enough. Over the last few years the age that cows have been slaughtered at has fallen to 18 months old as opposed to 36 months old which was the standard before I became a bridle maker. Farmers quite rightly just aren’t keen on keeping the animals that length of time anymore when they only receive the same price for the meat, they have halved their overheads by slaughtering their animals at a younger age.
As a small business that relies on a by-product of the meat trade, this is of real concern to me as it is becoming harder to buy the top quality material that allows me to offer my customers a truly bespoke choice.
To summarize, it is not the case with best bridle butts at the moment of just ordering an amount and it arrives. I am on a waiting list with Sedgwicks to ensure I do not run out of the standard colours of black and dark havana. I am now fully stocked up with both black and dark havana bridle butts and rest assured that the bridle butts used on all bridles made by myself will be in my opinion the best bridle leather that money can buy.