so I can buy this....
You may remember how a couple of months back how I wrote the Horse in the House blog post about wanting an antique mechanical horse, well yesterday an Ebay seller named Graham Hood, who deals in antiques under the Ebay user ID, Hicapblue, contacted me regarding an antique mechanical horse complete with a side saddle that he rescued from an old Victorian lunatic asylum!
Here is the auction description saved for posterity:
A Mechanical Exercise Machine in the form of a horse.Manufactured by Spencer Heath & George LTD Ponders End Middlesex.
It is of excellent quality and of a simillar type fitted in Titanic's gymnasium. US president Calvin Coolidge had one now in the Forbes Museum. The horse on offer was rescued from the vaults of a Victorian Lunatic Asylum where it was used by patients. It has a side saddle that can be converted to a conventional saddle by unscrewing the pommels. It has a massive electric motor. I have not dared to switch it on but do not see any reason why it would not crank up. It is in totally original untouched condition and weighs an absolute ton (half a ton really).
This is the one of the Titanic that he mentions:
Unfortunately, I'm poor now after forking out for a side saddle for Hattie and will be for the next few years, LOL but maybe it's a sign I should play the lotto tonight! Graham did invite me to come up to York to be a guinea pig and test it out so I shall have to see if I can get my ever obliging husband to drive the near 100 miles "up north" so that I can have a once in a lifetime ride on a antique mechanical horse.
Graham is going to email me some more photos of it this weekend so I will post them here but meanwhile, here are some from the auction...
A close up of the saddle which looks to be on a Wykham:
Front view of the "horse":
Another close up of the saddle. Graham said both pommels unscrew which means that a man could ride on it as well without the pommels or perhaps it is a reversible side saddle as well! Since it was in an old asylum, some of the female patients may have had physical disabilities as well that prevented them from riding on a conventional nearside sidesaddle so a reversible side saddle would have been useful for hospital use. I've asked him to send me more photos of the saddle so we can see if it is a reversible one or not. It could also just be an astride saddle with pommels screwed into the tree so it would be interesting to see the construction:
The "horse" even has bit loops for adding reins! Note the speed settings as well. I wonder if the "fast" setting felt like a canter or just a really fast trot?
Edited Sunday, December 12, 2010, MORE photos!!
Some more photos of the off-side of the saddle...
The more I look at this saddle, the more I think it was an astride saddle adapted for side saddle use by the mechanical horse manufactuers. I cannot see any screw holes on the off-side for off-side riding.
It definitely has a wide tree though!
Close up of the near-side...
Many thanks to Graham for allowing me to use his photos in my blog!