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Saddle up . . . Eddie Todd enjoys the quiet life in rural Hampden. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

If you have bought a saddle in Otago, there is a good chance it was made by long-serving saddler Eddie Todd.

For the past 40 years, he has been making saddles by hand – something of a dying art.

His saddles have made their way across New Zealand, and throughout parts of the world including Germany, the United Kingdom, and New Caledonia.

Originally from Waikouaiti, he started out as a saddler in the late 1970s.

As a child, Mr Todd loved making things with his hands.

“I always mucked around with leather,” he said.

“Even when I was a kid, I was always making things out of old school bags and stuff like that.

“I was always quite keen on horses as well, so the two things went together.”

It was not until 1980, when he set up a saddle shop on the main street of Waikouaiti, that he started taking his hobby more seriously.

“It was quite good. It had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day it was better than having a job.”

A bonus of working in the saddle business was getting paid to do what he loved.

“It’s being able to make a living doing stuff you like, which is quite good.”

But the best part of the job for Mr Todd was getting to see the finished product.

“That’s probably what I like the most – they always look nice when they’re finished.”

Mr Todd ran the business for about 37 years, until embracing semi-retirement last year.

Soon after closing the business, he found a property near Hampden.

“I just came up, had a look, and bought it the next day,” he said.

“It was everything that I wanted, really.”

A year later, he is living at the property and enjoying the life.

Most days, he can be found working around his property or in his saddle-making workshop, doing what he loves and plans to do for years to come.

“I’m a bit of a home-body, really,” he said.