George Poulter is a master of tradition in a changing equestrian world.

Story & photos by Margrit Beemster

As you walk through the shop to the workshop at the rear, noting the extensive collection of miniature carriages on your right, master saddler George Poulter asks you to “excuse the mess”. But what strikes you first is that special smell of newly tanned leather intermingled with the waft of damp horse contributed to, no doubt, by the horse rug on the counter awaiting repairs.
The smell evokes latent memories of another time, when saddlers and harness-makers were akin to the mechanics of today, and George, who began his apprenticeship as a 15 year-old with Amalgamated Saddlery in Leichhardt, Sydney, reminds you of that time. When he tells you he is 59 years old, it comes as a bit of a surprise. It is not so much that he looks old, he just seems that way. Perhaps it’s the tweed waistcoat he always wears, complete with his grandfather’s fob watch beneath a calico apron, which is stained from years of use. Maybe it’s his rounded shoulders, hunched from the detailed, fastidious work. Or perhaps it’s his face – his nose a little worse for wear from his years as a rodeo rider and the predictable falls from horses.

This story excerpt is from Issue #45

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2006