We have a good selection of antique saddles in the museum and a few of them are illustrated here.
Antique Ottoman/Persian Saddle
Interesting early saddle that I believe to be Ottoman or Persian. The ottoman style was Persian influenced so could be either but would be happy to hear from anyone who may think differently. The saddle is quite deep and the whole including the seat is extensively decorated with small yellow and white metal discs that are riveted into the leather. The outer edge of the seat has larger studs. I believe this is 18thC or possibly earlier. I have seen two other saddles of very similar design. If anyone can tell me more about this I would be grateful.
I have also listed a packsaddle. It has a similar feel to this saddle although much stronger.
Ottoman Pack saddle
I believe this is an Ottoman pack saddle probably for carrying guns. I have seen three of this design but have never found anyone who knows for certain where they come from. If anyone can tell me more about these I would be very grateful. It is made of wood covered with leather apart from the the wooden supporting arms that stick out at the sides which are just painted. The pommel is profusely studded and there are further studs around the tiny cantle.
A Pillion saddle. This is the way most ladies would have travelled in the 18thC and earlier. Coaches were almost non existent and those that did exist were extremely uncomfortable. One would hire a 'Double Horse' similar to a carthorse and this saddle would be placed on the rump behind the man's saddle and the lady would ride behind him. This saddle is early and probably from the 1600s.
Pillion saddles can still be seen in use in Spain at Fiesta time.
Victorian Side Saddle
Victorian early two pommel side saddle with beautiful decorated safe. The stitching work on this part is superb. The stirrup bar is solid so that the stirrup leather would not release in case of a fall. It is however a clever mechanism for adjusting the leather as the leather goes under the horse and fastens to the saddle on the off side making it easy for the lady to adjust the leather herself. This saddle would date from about 1840 and is before the leaping head. It would therefore be for gentle park riding and very dangerous in the event of a fall because it would have been very easy for a the rider to be trapped in the stirrup and dragged. Saddles like these were the reason safety stirrups were invented and later safety stirrup bars.