Follow Katie's journey as she trains to become a Childeric saddle technician at the Childeric base in France. Once Katie has completed all of the necessary training, to the highest of standards, she'll be able to undertake panel alterations right here in the UK.
Katie talks us through her first week's training in France, before she heads back out there later in May.
Monday 25th April
Firstly, I was shown around the factory, and introduced to most of the people that worked there. Nate, who has been there for several years, has the task of teaching me! His extensive knowledge, skill, passion and precision are indicative of the Childeric brand. Plus, fortunately for me, his English is pretty good too!
The first day was spent shadowing Nate, he showed me how the saddles are taken apart, this is similar to what l am used to as a Master Saddler, then how they are put back together again.
We made some leather finger guards, the needle and tools are different to what l am familiar with, so this was a new experience and new skill. Then I finished the day doing one half of a saddle myself.
Tuesday 26th April
I had an earlier start today, as the factory starts at 7am.
So, slightly thrown into the deep end, l was given my first saddle to put back together on my own. The assembly of Childeric saddles are different to British ones, although the “stitching”, called the Lacing is the same method. I did five saddles in total at the end of the day.
Nate had finished at lunchtime so he'll be back tomorrow to double check my work! Slightly scary, as he’s a perfectionist. But that’s good, I want to make sure I do a good job too, and perfection is what we've all come to expect from the Childeric brand.
Wednesday 27th April
Ok, so the start of the day was positive. My lacing in the panels passed the scrutiny of Nates eye!
However, to finish off the saddles I did yesterday, you need to add the Pong Pong’s, the two little bits of wool at the bottom of the panel. Well, they aren’t as easy as they look! I’ve done saddles for years and these weren’t a doddle to do, hopefully I am just tired and thing will start to run a bit more smoothly.
At the end of the day some of the Childeric team, Tricia, Jess, Andrew and Chloe arrived in France.
Tricia is here to talk through some product ideas, plus it’s good the have a catch up, and the rest them can meet everyone and have a tour of the factory.
Thursday 28th April
Started at 7am start, (by the way, this is equivalent to 6am in the UK.)
I have started grasp the technique of Pong Pongs, at last! Today I did some more of them, as well joining the rest of the team in meetings and enjoying a bit of French hospitality with a lovely lunch.
I spent the afternoon at my “adopted” workbench, (thank you Zachery, I will meet you in May!) gaining yet more experience of doing things the Childeric way.
My last day was a shorter one, as our flight was later that day, I did one last saddle. Then we all left at 10:30am, Tricia did an amazing job of driving the hire car to the airport. It was a smooth journey back, and I was home at 6pm.
I head back to France later in May to continue my learning, and look forward to that. I really must say, that the hospitality from the Childeric team was second to none, I tried to embrace the food, the coffee and the language as well.
A massive thank you to Tricia for entrusting me to embark on this new venture, everyone who held the fort back home especially my husband Steve and my two children, also the ladies at the yard who looked after my horses. I couldn’t do this without you all.