Only a handful of top luxury accessory brands can trace their expertise in premium leather goods back to the horse-and-buggy days, but Hermès is the only maison that still produces riding gear. While the contemporary world might know the brand for its coveted handbags, its saddles have been the choice for elite riders since its start in 1837; handbags weren’t introduced until the end of the 19th century, and—funnily enough—they were designed for transporting saddles.
Today, each saddle is still made by hand, requiring 25 to 35 hours apiece, in Hermès’s atelier in Paris. Its latest is the Vivace jumping saddle. Designed and conceived by Laurent Goblet—a 42-year veteran and master saddler at the atelier—the new seat is made for American-style equestrians used to standing in the saddle and is constructed to foster closeness between the rider and horse: It can be custom fitted for both. It’s so comfortable, says Goblet, “you forget the saddle is even there. It’s better for you and the horse.” A glimpse inside the saddlery reveals its artisans carrying on Goblet’s—and Hermès’s—impeccable standards of craftsmanship.