Sunday, 23 January 2011

Presenting The Beck Morrow Off-Side Side Saddle!

We went shopping yesterday and boy did I shop!

Came home with a Beck Morrow OFF-SIDE side saddle, a new wool off-side apron, a pair of matching full suede and leather queens for a near-side and off-side saddle and a new brown fleece off-side numnah!

My saddle is a Beck Morrow side saddle (although it's only stamped Beck) which were copies of French Hermes side saddles. Even though they were copies, the quality, materials and workmanship were on the same level as Hermes saddles. Beck Morrow was a London saddler based in Paris and theirs along with Hermes side saddles, are known for the "close contact" panels were are felt covered in leather. I prefer close contact saddles when riding astride and I liked the close contact feel of my old Champion & Wilton saddle when I had the Wykham pad put on but sometimes feel that the thick padding that my Manorgrove has (along with other heavily flocked up side saddles), keeps me form feeling what Hattie is doing.

My saddle only has a partial remnant of the Beck Morrow label but it would have looked like this one that I came across on a photo of a nearside Beck Morrow from the same era.

It says:
Beck and Morrow
Saddler and Harness Maker
From London
To his Late Excellency
The British Ambassador
41, rue Boissy d'Anglas

Beck Morrow ceased trading in 1907.

The seat measures 17" from cutback to cantle or 21" from front of fixed head to cantle. It is only 1/2" longer and 1" wider in the seat than my other off-side side saddle but it is so comfortable and fits me well! It's amazing how small a measurement can make the difference in rider comfort. The seat has a slight dip to it which I like as well and I don't find it slippery at all even though the seat is pigskin (but I was wearing full seat breeches). The pommels are narrow which I'm not keen on due to the arthritis my knees so I'm so glad I was able find a Queen for an off-side saddle at the same time.

It has a roller bar fitting like my other off-side saddle so just used the same stirrup leather for that as well.

The annoying thing about the saddle, is that there isn't a convenience tab for the overgirth only a buckled overgirth which requires a groom to do up when a lady is mounted!! When I have the saddler out to adjust the felt/flocking and change the girth straps, I may ask if he can change it to a convenience tab or just take it off completely as overgirths tend to annoy Hattie. It is too short for her anyways and I had to use a girth extender to buckle it!

I put a felt pad between the panel and the saddle on the off-side to boost up the right side though area, it flattened down a bit after I rode in it so I will have to get the saddler to adjust it. With the queen on, I get a nice upright head for my leg.

The saddle has an "open head" which means it doesn't have a flap extending from the top of the safe over the withers. It's weird feeling Hattie's withers when I ride but the saddle doesn't come down on her withers at all. The open head gives good room for a high withered horse like a Thoroughbred. The panels are only half panels as well which also suit Hatties conformation as there is nothing to interfere with her shoulder movement. You can see in the photo, the front edge of the panel, how is it only beside the withers (which fit her well) but nothing to bug her shoulders.

The nearside of the saddle, has a stiff leather flap over the half panel to protect the horse from the girth but other than the half panel, there is not superfluous padding. I'm so glad that Beck Morrows had point straps though as Hattie needs them!

The off-side panel is just a thick piece of felt covered in leather with a pocket for the long point. You can just see the edge of the stirrup roller bar. You have to thread the stirrup leather though the hole in outer flap onto the stirrup bar. It's a bit fiddly to get on but keeps the buckle and the excess end of the stirrup leather hidden away. Like Owen side saddles, there isn't much support under the safe for the calf for extra close contact. The leather covering the felt is a bit fragile so I may have to get the panels refurbished in the near future if I'm going to use this saddle regularly.

We got back too late for me to try it out but I got to this morning.

It was nice having a big enough seat and not having my butt hang off the side of the saddle!!

It was weird getting back on the off-side again but we we started out with lots of walking on both reins and thinking "LEFT SHOULDER BACK". We also did lots of walk/trot transistions.

Hattie was a bit confused today with my legs being on the right side but towards the end of our 20-30 minute schooling sessions, she was starting to get it again.

Need to stop slouching!!

It started to come together at the end...


  1. Oooooooh I'm so envious of you! You find the most amazing things. I would love to be able to go out shopping and come home with anything sidesaddle related. That stuff is so hard to come by here. Not only that but to find an offside saddle would be like winning the lottery here, they're extra hard to come by.
    One day I'm going to come over and I think we'll have to go shopping for sidesaddle stuff! :)

  2. What a fantastic shopping spree!
    I looked at the first photo and thought "where are your legs?" lol

  3. Wow where did you find this gem at? It's gorgeous! Congrats - and you look lovely riding in it! I wish I could shop like that and find such great stuff! LOL!

  4. Leila I have posted piks on my blog of my sidesaddle on Molly
    When you have a chance could you pop over and see what you think? I am interested in any suggestions/comments about the fit. ta :)

  5. Wow, nice. It's in great shape too. It was -30 here today, needless to say I did not ride. I'm just hoping my car starts tomorrow.

  6. Well done! Where did you find it all? I'm so glad you found a saddle that fits you well. Will you sell your other off-side sidesaddle?

  7. You have started down the path to the dark side of sidesaddle riding...more saddles than you can possibly ride!

    I quite like Beck Morrow saddles; they are close contact and no frills with a slight victorian tendancy toward the dipped seat.

    It does look like it sits a tad uphill.

  8. Wow! It really does look like an Hermes, doesn't it? You are an amazing shopper, not sure how you've gotten your hands on two offsides in a year. :) This does seem to fit you better, does it fit Hattie as well?

  9. I'm REALLY pleased with the saddle, it need some fixing up but it's still ridable as is although I'm not going to try hacking out with it just yet until I get the billet straps renewed.

    Robin, it did end up a bit uphill at the end of our ride as it slid forward a bit. The tree size is good for Hattie, it's close to her withers (more so than my Manorgrove) but doesn't actually touch anything so it's REALLY close contact. I think it looks more uphill than it actually was due to the dished seat but it did slide forward a bit due to the billet straps not being as forward placed as my other off-side saddle has them.

    When the saddler comes to put new ones on, I'm going to ask him if it's possible for him to move them forward closer to the tree points. The point strap on the nearside is perfect but the back straps need to be closer to the tree points and then the saddle should stay put.

    It's ALOT better fit for Hattie than my old C&W was though, that used to go straight onto her shoulders but this one, just a little bit.

    Despite it needing some tweaking to the felt inside (I'll need to get the right side and the back lifted a bit), it actually rode really nice! I'm afraid to say that I really do prefer a dished seat to a perfectly flat one unfortunately!! I didn't feel like I was rolling in this saddle like I do with my Manorgrove.

    I'll write about where I got it tomorrow as I'm exhausted tonight from packing orders.

    Michelle, if you ever come over, we'll take you to where I bought it as they have more side saddle (not off-side unfortunately) stuff too.... ;-)

  10. Sounds great! I would absolutely love that! Not to mention the fact that it would be great to meet you and Hattie in person!