My Story So Far

I have been very lucky to gain new followers recently and so I thought it was time to update you all on my journey so far.


If we roll back to five years ago, I was 35 years old and losing the will to live in a corporate job that I no longer had a passion or drive for.

As an equestrienne, I thought about working with horses, but I wanted to do more than just muck them out or ride them.

Clair Stitching

I was already an experienced seamstress and had undertaken fashion and pattern cutting qualifications some years before, so I thought about doing something along the same lines.

After doing a couple of leatherwork courses with Chris Taylor at Saddlers Den in Southport, I had found my new calling.

I knew from that day forth I wanted to learn how to make saddlery the traditional way.


I spent almost a year on a waiting list, before being accepted onto a self-funded Adult Training Scheme with The Saddlery Training Centre in April 2016.

Thus my journey had started.

My intention at the time was to complete all the relevant training and assessments required that would one day provide me with ‘Qualified Saddler’ status.

In September of the same year, I launched my business, so I could gain some much-needed experience repairing leatherwork and practising my skills making new items.

Lady Saddler logohomepageslider

It was first called Boyden Saddlers, but I thought it made me sound very masculine, so I later changed it to The Lady Saddler.

2016 – 2019

The three years that followed was a mixture of blood, sweat and tears, with me almost giving up at least twice.

Having a young family, a full-time job, a horse of my own and having to self-fund this expensive hobby really took its toll on me.

Most months we had to seriously budget our grocery shop and cut back on all extras a family demands just so I could pay for my courses, travelling and accommodation fees to name a few.

Leaving The Day Job

Nevertheless, in November 2017, I made the brave and stupid decision to leave the day job; it was affecting my health at this point and Management were becoming increasingly difficult but the loss of a steady income made it very hard.

I went hell for leather to try and make the business work but I ended up accepting all types of repairs and making all types of bespoke leather items too.

Whilst this was a great experience, I didn’t want to continue to do that as I felt I was spreading myself out very thin.


With my husband self-employed too it made it extra hard to budget having two sporadic incomes coming in.

So, at the start of 2019, I took on a part-time day job to help with the pressures of paying the family bills and pay some debt off.

Later that year I finally completed my last exam needed to make me a qualified saddler.

Level 3 Saddle

I still have to wait for official documentation to say I’m ‘qualified’ but alas I now have a full set of certificates to show that I can make saddles and bridles to City & Guilds Level 2 and 3.

Having A Wobble

Unfortunately, in December [2019], I had a wobble.

I’ve always suffered from some form of imposter syndrome but the anxiety that I suddenly felt just before Christmas was so intense, I just closed the doors on my business.

I came off social media, I stopped advertising and basically I became a bit of a hermit.

It was then that I had a major discussion with myself.

I could not keep doing what I was doing because the income just wasn’t matching up to the effort being put in, so something had to give.

Me and Olly

Rehoming my Horse

Sadly, I also came to the decision to rehome my horse, Olly, as my time and finances were becoming even more stretched, I knew if I wanted to make the business work in 2020 I had to give him up.

[You can read more about him and his story here if you’re interested.]

Winning My First Award

Something I didn’t see coming was winning my first National Saddlery Competition award which was for my Level 3 Trainee saddle that I almost didn’t enter into the competition.

Clair Rivers-Boyden Winning Class 3A

How I got first is beyond me, but I am very proud I did.

You can read more of that day here.

Going Forward

I don’t enjoy doing repairs if I’m honest, because a lot of what I get asked to repair is the cheap tack that wasn’t adequately made in the first place

So, I have chosen to bring my repair fees in line with other Saddlers so a customer will now decide for themselves if something is worth having repaired or not.

I LOVE creating, especially if it has an element of equestrianism to it too, so going forward I have decided to do more of that.

Ensuring I use only the very best materials, staying with my handcrafting skills and being able to bespoke an item to a customer’s requirements is what I want to do more of.

New Products Coming Soon

However, if you’re interested in something run of the mill then keep an eye out for some new products entering the shop soon.

Are You A Lady?

However, some of my future collections will not be for everyone, but if you are a lady who is an equestrienne, appreciates quality when she sees it and is always looking out for that something special, then talk to me…maybe I can design something amazing just for you!

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