James began working with leather at the age of 13 and started training as a saddler over twenty years ago. Today he is a qualified Master Saddler and his work varies from equestrian tack to making and repairing leather goods. His commissions have included leather drinking vessels for museums, bible cases and briefcases. He recently worked with QEST Scholar Bob Johnston to make a Victorian basket saddle for a disabled child ensuring that he could enjoy the independence afforded by riding safely alone.
QEST provided the resources for James to attend the Side Saddle Manufacture course at The Saddlery Training Centre in Salisbury, where he was taught by Richard Godden, the only remaining side saddle specialist teacher. Side saddle riding is enjoying a renaissance throughout the UK and in particular in James’ native Northern Ireland where he is the only side saddle maker in the country.