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I am an award winning heritage craft business, the only Society of Master Saddlers qualified saddler within Cumbria, creating handmade leather products using the best British materials & traditional techniques. I am lucky enough to be based in the heart of the Lake District, Near Sawrey, the home of Beatrix potter. 
I am a disabled leatherworker, with currently three autoimmune diseases, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) & Graves’ disease, although autoimmune diseases are a bit like bingo, once you get one more tend to appear.
Over the last year I have attended the National Saddlery Competition at Saddlers Hall in London twice. This is where the best saddlers in the world gather to showcase their craftsmanship and where I was judged by some of the best saddlers in the world. Last year I was fortunate to have won first prize in the intermediate bridle class, including a premium award for a matching set of double show reins. This year I entered the small business saddle category, coming 2nd.With my hand made saddle. In September of 2023, I won at the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) show in the pre-made competition with my hand stitched acorn flask, the first item I made within only a few months after reconstructive shoulder for my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
Before my diagnosis, I worked within the education sector, specifically working with children and adults with additional learning difficulties, mostly working with people with autism, including a degree in Children , Schools & Families . Before that I worked within the hospitality industry alongside my family running our 19-bedroom hotel and bar in far Sawrey, which was sold due to several family bereavements. In 2016, I was diagnosed with MS a chronic autoimmune condition which attacks my central nervous system in my brain, which I then had two separate rounds of chemotherapy a year apart to try and re-boot my immune system. This prompted me to re-evaluate what I was doing with my life and the best way to have a career, yet still have my health. I decided it was time to pursue a career I had wanted to do since I was seventeen but sadly never had the opportunity before, leatherwork & saddlery. I moved to London, two weeks after the first round of chemotherapy, for a year in 2016 and attended the prestigious Capel Manor CollegeI spent the next 3 years building up my small business from an old car garage which is my workshop, however then the world came to an abrupt halt due to Covid-19.I made the decision to try and complete my second year of college, which I had had to defer due to ill health after the second round of chemotherapy, & moved to London in September 2020 and managed to live there until the end of October. With the announcement that London would be going into another lock down, I made the decision for both my mental and physical health to head home. I completed the remainder of the year online, including making my second year saddle via zoom and my first year saddlery notes. It was ideal for me as I had the majority of the skills, I just needed to complete the year to get that all important piece of paper. I left my second year being awarded the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers Diploma in Saddle, Harness & Bridle making with an overall mark of outstanding, plus winning the trophy for excellence.
Hattie Crabtree Degree
I am currently studying with the Saddlery Training Centre in Salisbury with Mark Romain MBE, completing both my bridle and saddle Level 3 qualifications last year. This makes me a Society of Master Saddlers qualified Saddler and bridle maker. I am in the process of completing my Harness level 3 qualification, which when complete would make me a qualified harness maker, bringing the total number in Cumbria to two.I am passionate about my craft and being able to promote the tradition within Cumbria, including talks to the Women’s Institute as well as attending local country fairs helping to spread the knowledge and understanding of my heritage craft. My short term aim for the future is to focus on bridle and bit fitting within the County, helping equestrians find what works best for their horse’s comfort and happiness and promoting why British handmade saddlery is not just the strongest and safest products but that each individual piece made can be truly unique to their horse, thus ensuring their comfort and happiness is paramount. Don’t be fooled that the only market I work in is equestrian. I pretty much make anything and everything leather, from belts, handbags, dog collars, leads and not forgetting repairs.With in leatherwork you literally have to be able to turn your hand to anything and everything. Longer term, I am hoping to start running some courses and in time hopefully be able to take on an apprentice so that I can pass on my knowledge too and continue this wonderful hands on skill in the future.

A life long hobby that turned in to a passion. 

When i was 7/8 I got my first pony on loan, Ricky, and my godmother bought me my pony club subscription for Oxenholme Pony Club. I met my best friend when I joined the mounted games, although I did kick her off the team, whoop.

From there horses were my life, highlights include becoming British Riding Clubs Pairs dressage champions in 2002, riding my second pony Sapphire with my close friend Beth riding polo.

Following in my Mums footsteps I got the eventing bug at a very young age, this is dressage, showjumping and cross country. Completing my first Novice with my first Horse Millie. 


Next came my horse of a lifetime Annie,the horse that i could jump 1meter 30cm in a head collar, she was a beautiful soul who just wanted to please and be loved. Sadly her time was cut short due to illness. 

Fudge, I had fudge for a couple of years, a little 12.2,  2/3year old which i broke in. She is a little cracker and is enjoying teaching little girls to ride. However out of all of my horses she could throw the biggest tantrum, even if she was the smallest i've ever owned. 

Rory, who reminded me what it felt like to get that red ribbon, when we won at Dalston Hunter trials, qualifying us for the national championships in 2019. He is the quirkiest horse I've ever owned, but also one of the most loving after a difficult start in life, and being misunderstood. he is now spoilt rotten. 

New to the party is Jack, he is an ex Kings Royal Artillary Gunner Horse, sadly the London life was just a bit to busy for him. He arrived in October 2023 and I am in the process of re-training him. So far he has come on leaps and bounds, and thoroughly enjoys his muddy rolls every morning. 
jack rory & me.jpg
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