Taking the First Step
The Original Workshop
Our first home had a leather work bench set up in the living room and in 1988 we built the granite rock saddlery workshop. Helen returned to teaching for 4 years, and Lyle began full time saddlery training.
Lyle hard at work
Lyle operating the Pearson sewing machine. At that time Lyle thought that he would be the “one man operator” of the business.
First Outback trip
Our first outback trip in 1991. We travelled to the Kimberley region, W.A., setting out with Landcruiser, trailer, our four sons, Ben, Daniel, Jamie and Paul, and family dog ‘Jock’. Our eldest daughter, Leah, was working in Toowoomba, and stayed behind. Helen was pregnant with our youngest daughter Jessica, born in derby, W.A. in August of that year. For the first two years of “The Trip”, we travelled with a Land Cruiser and trailer.
We’d heard that horse work in the North was finished; that helicopters and motorbikes had taken over; so with some uncertainty we ventured into the Kimberley to look for work repairing saddles. Our first break came with a caretaking job at Bedford Downs, owned at the time by Angus McClymont – A big bloke with a big voice, and a big heart to allow Lyle to repair some of the saddles. We soon discovered that horse work was very much alive in the Kimberley, and we spent 6 months moving between several stations doing a lot of saddle repair.
Our daughter Leah
Our daughter Leah was the first one to begin working in the Saddlery during the early 90’s.
The Gooseneck Truck
Repairing saddles at Durham Downs, Western Queensland, in 1993. “We used this gooseneck for seven years.”
Our sons Ben and Daniel
Extension of the rock workshop about 2001. Ben and then Daniel began work in the saddlery business around that time.
A flock of saddles
Ben labelling saddles for despatch to cattle stations. Leah calls this photo “a flock of saddles.”
Shopping at Moola Bulla Station (East Kimberley). The inside of the gooseneck shop sometimes became very crowded!
On the road
The Macro gooseneck which we used for 8 years. Photo taken at Mt Sanford, N.T.
The Saddlery Complex
The Saddlery complex at 535 Spring Creek Road. It “kind of just grew”. New sheds were added as the business expanded.
Night shopping at Tipperary, N.T. If it happens to start raining, we can be packed up in about five minutes.
The Supa Float
The Supa Float at the Negri River (The Duncan Highway).
The days of the Landcruiser and trailer, and two successive trucks and gooseneck trailers are now gone. We now travel for 4 months each year in the comfort of our custom made truck shop, carrying supplies of Kent Saddles, leather gear, and other products to Outback cattle stations. We designed the shop to open to the outside with living quarters on the inside.
The Family grows
From a family perspective 2012 was a busy and productive time. In June, Ben and Janelle, Chad and Dustin welcomed Bonnie Jane into the family and Daniel and Sonia, Jacob and Ethan were delighted with the arrival of Lucas Graeme in October. Together with Naima, Ena, and Aida Furness, Josh and Leahs three girls, there’s a total of nine grandchildren for Lyle and Helen, and a whole lot of noise when they’re together.
Our 25th Anniversary will be remembered as “the year we opened the new Kent Saddlery store”.
Kent Saddlery Store includes a gallery style retail area, reminiscent of an old time saddlery store; with Kent Saddles and leather gear for sale, along with stocks of other familiar items and some interesting and novel products. There’s plenty of parking space for horse floats and goosenecks, a round yard facility is available for travellers to spell their horses for an hour or two, and our handcrafted products are now produced in a workshop adjoining the new store.