He has been a go to person if you needed to know about saddles, horse equipment and horses.
Hans van Hees has been involved with horses all his life.
Born in Holland, he grew up in his grandfather’s riding school and comes from a long horsemen family that can be traced back to the 16th century.
He travelled the world in his early years and spent time in Spain, France, and the Americas working and broadening his knowledge about horse equipment and horses.
Mr van Hees arrived in Melbourne and went to the Snowy Mountains to fulfil a two year contract and describes the time spent on the peaks herding cattle as a wonderful experience.
From here he went to Glenrock Station near Scone when it was 200,000 acres and carried 10,000 cows.
Mr van Hees continued making saddles in his spare time and became known for his work.
This led him to establishing his own horse saddle business in Liverpool Street, Scone.
“I always kept up my horse work though as that was my interest,” Mr van Hees said.
A workshop was built on their property after his marriage to Joanne and the
business was relocated.
The workshop contains a plethora of horse implements and tools.
“Some things here date back to 600AD when horses were a lot smaller,” Mr van Hees said.
It currently has five saddles with intricate leather work and other handmade items such as bridles and harnesses.
“No saddle is the same, each is made taking into account the shape of the horse and the rider,” Mr van Hees said.
”I get measurements of the horse’s back and the rider, then I carve the wooden
saddle tree and cover it with raw hide to give it strength.
“Each saddle is then entirely hand stitched.”
The custom made saddles have been made for the workforce on massive cattle stations in the Northern Territory so men did not end up with sore backs after being on the horse all day.
In 1985, Mr van Hees became a teacher at TAFE when it opened in Scone.
He worked for approximately four nights a week teaching saddlery and how to make bridles and harnesses and even riding boots.
“I could help with any type of horse leather gear the students wanted to make,” said Mr van Hees.
Students came from Newcastle, Mudgee, Tamworth and Bathurst to attend his classes.
They even took out the honour of winning the saddle making section of the Easter Show for eight consecutive years.
Mr van Hees has been recognised for his extensive knowledge of horses and horse equipment and for preserving colonial history.
In 2008 he was made a fellow of the Australian Institute of History and Art.
“That has been the biggest highlight of my career,” he said.
He has also supplied horse equipment to various Australian movies and has written about fitting saddles in various horse magazines.
Mr van Hees retired from TAFE in February this year and was recently farewelled with a party.
Here he was presented with a bronze statue of an Australian lighthorse for his 27 years of continual service.
Mr van Hees closed his saddlery
business last financial year and is now devoting his days to cataloguing his equipment and books.
He hopes that his collection of horse equipment might some day be turned into a book.