“HE CAN MAKE ANYTHING IN LEATHER”

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Find out who’s been named ETN/SMS Bench Saddler of the Month for August.

Dave Kuhn is the winner of this month’s Bench Saddler of the Month award.

Presented by ETN in conjunction with the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS), the accolade recognises those who uphold the highest standards of leather craft skills.

Dave was nominated by Andy Milner of saddlers S. Milner & Son of Melton Mowbray.

“Dave has worked for our business for over 45 years,” says Andy. “He can make anything somebody is willing to pay for – harness, saddles, bespoke bridlework; you name it, Dave can make it.

“He has even made leather door handles for Aspinalls of London and Penhaligons in Covent Garden, and is currently making a leather lamp. His skills are just fantastic and his attention to detail is second to none.”

Dave also makes special adaptive reins for Paralympic dressage rider Sophie Wells.

He started work at S. Milner & Son as a schoolboy, sweeping the workshop floor at weekends and holidays to earn pocket money.

“As soon as I was allowed to, I left school, started a job at Milner’s and have been here ever since,” says Dave. “Although life in general has changed enormously, the skills you learn as a saddler and craftsman stay the same and stand the test of time.

“Yes, new techniques come along and you develop new skills and remain open minded, but much of what you learn in the early days remains with you forever.”

When he started out in the saddlery industry, Dave was mentored by his father, Hans Kuhn, who also worked for the Leicestershire saddlers, and Andy’s uncle, Roger Milner.

“I learnt the very basics in the early days. Everything from gluing and repairs on everything from reins to leather horse boots. But it was a long time before they let me loose on a saddle,” recalls Dave.

Now a Master Saddler, Dave’s current speciality is bespoke bridles. “I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing a bridle through from start to finish, and working with the best quality materials,” he says.

• To nominate someone you feel deserves to be named ETN/SMS Bench Saddler of the Month, contact editor@equestriantradenews.com The award is open to saddlers who are employed or self-employed and who work in a workshop or factory setting anywhere in the world.