Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Reversible Side Saddles Galore!

The arthritis in my right hip and in my hands (today it is my left hand's turn to ache) has been bugging me today. I don't know why as it's not particularly cold today but I reckon my right hip is getting a bit stiff from not riding this week.

With my left hand out of action and my right hip bugging me, I thought how nice it would be to have an off-side Western side saddle so that on days like this, I could ride with one hand and on my non-buggered hip. Unfortunately, there is probably even less of those around than English off-side side saddles! I'll probably find one one-of-these -days though as I seem to have a knack for sniffing out off-siders.

Hundred Oaks are able to order in off-side Steele side saddles and even have one in stock. I wonder how seat sizes run in Western side saddles? Hmmmm, very tempting....

Well, until I have a lottery win or something and can buy myself an off-side Steele, I'll have to make due with watching my favorite video of a lady riding on an off-side Western side saddle on a Tennessee Walking Horse for a demonstration given on the historic Mackinac Island in Michigan:

Lately, there seems to have been lots of reversible side saddles popping up. It started with the reversible Martin & Martin on the Side Saddlery (I really wish I could have bought that saddle as it would have fit Hattie and I!) and over the past week, two more have appeared on Ebay!

You know what they say, good things come in 3's!

The first one resembles the Martin & Martin that was on the Side Saddlery but was made by A J Gardner probably in the late 1890's- early 1900's.

I was tempted to buy it but looking at the tree, it would have been too narrow for Hattie.

The the seat measured a scant 18" from the front of the fixed horn to the cantle and only 11" across the seat which meant it was probably originally made for a girl or young teenager to ride in.

I find it interesting the difference in pommel shape on all 4 pommels. You would think because the saddle was made symmetrical, that the opposite pommels would have been made the same. The left fixed head is more curved than the off-side one and the off-side leaping head, looks shorter and definitely has less of a bend to it. I wonder if the original owner was disabled somehow, maybe suffered from polio or something that made her left side weaker with less muscle mass?

The second reversible side saddle is earlier, probably late 1870's? 1880's? It's gorgeous though with it's ornate stitching!

I found an engraving in my Moseman's Illustrated Guide to Horse Furnishing goods book which dates to c. 1889, of a very similar reversible side saddle. Both these saddles on have one leaping horn which you swapped over unlike the other turn of the century saddle and the M&M, which had two leaping heads.

According to the auction description, this saddle is sized to fit a child or small adult. It seems to be that most reversible side saddles were aimed more for girls. I guess unless you were VERY rich and could afford to keep buying matching off-side and nearside saddles each time a girl outgrew them, it made more sense just to buy one saddle and just keep replacing the one saddle each time she outgrew it. Maybe that is why you tend to find off-side side saddles in adult sizes as since a woman would not grow anymore, then she could afford to spurge and have two different saddles made as they would be "keepers".

I can't believe how symmetrical and NARROW the seat is! Although beautiful, it couldn't have been very comfy. The fixed heads look perfectly symmetrical though, unlike the other turn of the century saddle.

A close up of the detailing...

This is another model of an off-side side saddle that was advertised in the Moseman's catalog but with this saddle, EVERYTHING was removable, even the "fixed" heads. I don't know if I would like the idea of having a removable fixed head though!! What if it gave way under strenuous riding? I can't imagine many of those survived.


  1. There's an offside Western shown on ISSO's page at
    a little over halfway down. It was re-built by the ISSO saddler. Believe it or not, the nearly white was the original color on the seat and pommels! (And I got to ride it once - gloat!!)

    Interestingly, the lady in your video is now able to ride astride courtsey of medical advances made after working with Iraq/Afghanistan vets. The saddle was sold to someone who does extensive trail riding in MD. Originally made by Lillian Chaudhry, it was also re-made by the ISSO saddler due to the many, many miles the original owner had put on it! (Yet another reason for you to visit, we'll manage to see that saddle.)

  2. Oooooo, I want to see that saddle!

    I really need to sort out a visit and I can bring you more Twix and Fruit pastilles!!

  3. If Leila's coming across the pond, then we'll all have to head out to dinner...Ram's Head, Jeannie? Plus, maybe we can arrange with Barb to get Leila a ride in that offside western. And of course, maybe she'd like to come to Woodwind and give Owen a try.

    See how much bang for your travel buck you could get by visiting the Washington area, Leila?

  4. I love that saddle with the stitched seat. If it would fit me my credit card would be in trouble! LOL
    I wonder if perhaps the pommels are shaped differently because it was dropped or set down wrong at one point?

  5. I love the engraved mosemans..how much is it?

  6. I don't know mum as the catalog is from 1889 with them in it and they didn't have prices marked in it. Apparently, Moseman's had a separate price list which didn't survive with the catalog.

    Michelle, I wondered that too but that still wouldn't explain the short and less curved off-side leaping head too. Maybe that saddle was made for two sisters, one to ride on the off-side and one to ride on the nearside which would kind of explain the two sets of different shaped pomnmels.

    Jeannie and Robin, that sounds FAB! I just need to save up now for plane tickets, lol.

  7. That could very well be too. If only our saddles could talk! Could you imagine all of the stories they could tell us!

    If you fly out this way, I'll do my best to get a ticket and come meet you too!

  8. I think I have a reversible pony saddle. Don't know much about it. Would u take a look? X