The Origin of the American Saddle | TheFencePost.com

The Origin of the American Saddle

Shirley Kelly
Glade Park, Colo.

Exactly when man domesticated the horse is questionable. However, the Chinese, Assyrians and Persians were skilled riders 3,000 before Christ. The saddles mentioned in the Bible were generally considered to have been saddle cloth. The ancient Greeks sometimes used saddle cloths, but they had no saddles and often rode bareback until the near end of the empire.

The Native Americans of the Great Plains of North America were famous horsemen, and usually rode without saddles until the white settlers arrived. Probably the saddles as we know today, were developed either in France during the Early Christian era or in the steppe region of Asia.

The Western Saddle of today, was greatly influenced by the Spanish Vaquero (cowboy). The saddle was to the American travelers and cowboys what the motor vehicle is for the American traveler and worker today. Henry Ford invented the first motorcar and the Spanish Vaquero invented the first western cowboy saddle.

The first saddle had no saddle horn. The saddle horn was an innovation invented through necessity by the Spanish and Mexican vaqueros. Livestock was first tied to the horses tail which they found the horses objected to towing. Vaqueros then tied the home end of their lariat to the “D” ring on the side rigging of the saddle, this did not prove efficient, so an ingenious vaquero through trial and error invented the prototype of what was eventually to become the saddle horn used mainly for roping cattle.

Many of the first generation Texas cowboys were missing thumbs, they were unable to tie the lariat around the saddle horn like the seasoned vaqueros. Often they were unable to rope the steer, turn the rope and horn before the animal pulled tight. Consequently, they lost their thumbs. This was the beginning of the Texas tradition of roping technique where the rope was first tied to the saddle horn to lasso the animal. To this day on occasion you will still come across a cowboy who has lost his thumb in the same way.

The Military influence of the Western saddle designs, and in the evolution of what we now call the “western” or “cowboy” saddle changed in shape and confirmation for the military fighting of the Indian wars.

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The McClellan Military saddle has been recounted in numerous articles, George B. McClellan developed the saddle over a number of years. This saddle had its beginnings in the Crimean War, where Capt. McClellan was sent, and like many officers observed the activities of the combatants. During this time he perhaps tested a great variety of military equipment. This suggested a wide range of changes to the equipment then used by the U.S. Army and in 1859 the McClellan saddle was developed, it has remained remarkably unchanged since then.

Saddle rigging refers to how the cinch strap is attached to the saddle to hold the saddle in place. Rigging can be grouped into two types; conventional on-tree rigging and in skirt rigging. Conventional rigging places the bulk of the cinch strap under the rigging leg. Insert rigging has proven itself to be just as secure as conventional rigging. In the style the rigging hardware is built directly onto the saddle skirt, or for extra security, built “in” the skirt, where the rigging is attached to an extra metal plate between two layers of leather on the skirt.

Ranch saddles are also known as “all round” saddles and are meant to be multi purpose, suited to both full work days and long rides and keeps you and the horse comfortable for long stretches at a time. They are usually double rigged for more stability. For more rigorous disciplines such as roping and cutting, full double rigging is more appropriate, with a flank cinch, the pressure of roping will easily cause the saddle to top forward and pitch the horses shoulders. A flank cinch will keep the saddle securely in place. Insert rigging is less common in the heavy-duty saddle because of the stress of the activity.

Exactly when man domesticated the horse is questionable. However, the Chinese, Assyrians and Persians were skilled riders 3,000 before Christ. The saddles mentioned in the Bible were generally considered to have been saddle cloth. The ancient Greeks sometimes used saddle cloths, but they had no saddles and often rode bareback until the near end of the empire.

The Native Americans of the Great Plains of North America were famous horsemen, and usually rode without saddles until the white settlers arrived. Probably the saddles as we know today, were developed either in France during the Early Christian era or in the steppe region of Asia.

The Western Saddle of today, was greatly influenced by the Spanish Vaquero (cowboy). The saddle was to the American travelers and cowboys what the motor vehicle is for the American traveler and worker today. Henry Ford invented the first motorcar and the Spanish Vaquero invented the first western cowboy saddle.

The first saddle had no saddle horn. The saddle horn was an innovation invented through necessity by the Spanish and Mexican vaqueros. Livestock was first tied to the horses tail which they found the horses objected to towing. Vaqueros then tied the home end of their lariat to the “D” ring on the side rigging of the saddle, this did not prove efficient, so an ingenious vaquero through trial and error invented the prototype of what was eventually to become the saddle horn used mainly for roping cattle.

Many of the first generation Texas cowboys were missing thumbs, they were unable to tie the lariat around the saddle horn like the seasoned vaqueros. Often they were unable to rope the steer, turn the rope and horn before the animal pulled tight. Consequently, they lost their thumbs. This was the beginning of the Texas tradition of roping technique where the rope was first tied to the saddle horn to lasso the animal. To this day on occasion you will still come across a cowboy who has lost his thumb in the same way.

The Military influence of the Western saddle designs, and in the evolution of what we now call the “western” or “cowboy” saddle changed in shape and confirmation for the military fighting of the Indian wars.

The McClellan Military saddle has been recounted in numerous articles, George B. McClellan developed the saddle over a number of years. This saddle had its beginnings in the Crimean War, where Capt. McClellan was sent, and like many officers observed the activities of the combatants. During this time he perhaps tested a great variety of military equipment. This suggested a wide range of changes to the equipment then used by the U.S. Army and in 1859 the McClellan saddle was developed, it has remained remarkably unchanged since then.

Saddle rigging refers to how the cinch strap is attached to the saddle to hold the saddle in place. Rigging can be grouped into two types; conventional on-tree rigging and in skirt rigging. Conventional rigging places the bulk of the cinch strap under the rigging leg. Insert rigging has proven itself to be just as secure as conventional rigging. In the style the rigging hardware is built directly onto the saddle skirt, or for extra security, built “in” the skirt, where the rigging is attached to an extra metal plate between two layers of leather on the skirt.

Ranch saddles are also known as “all round” saddles and are meant to be multi purpose, suited to both full work days and long rides and keeps you and the horse comfortable for long stretches at a time. They are usually double rigged for more stability. For more rigorous disciplines such as roping and cutting, full double rigging is more appropriate, with a flank cinch, the pressure of roping will easily cause the saddle to top forward and pitch the horses shoulders. A flank cinch will keep the saddle securely in place. Insert rigging is less common in the heavy-duty saddle because of the stress of the activity.

Exactly when man domesticated the horse is questionable. However, the Chinese, Assyrians and Persians were skilled riders 3,000 before Christ. The saddles mentioned in the Bible were generally considered to have been saddle cloth. The ancient Greeks sometimes used saddle cloths, but they had no saddles and often rode bareback until the near end of the empire.

The Native Americans of the Great Plains of North America were famous horsemen, and usually rode without saddles until the white settlers arrived. Probably the saddles as we know today, were developed either in France during the Early Christian era or in the steppe region of Asia.

The Western Saddle of today, was greatly influenced by the Spanish Vaquero (cowboy). The saddle was to the American travelers and cowboys what the motor vehicle is for the American traveler and worker today. Henry Ford invented the first motorcar and the Spanish Vaquero invented the first western cowboy saddle.

The first saddle had no saddle horn. The saddle horn was an innovation invented through necessity by the Spanish and Mexican vaqueros. Livestock was first tied to the horses tail which they found the horses objected to towing. Vaqueros then tied the home end of their lariat to the “D” ring on the side rigging of the saddle, this did not prove efficient, so an ingenious vaquero through trial and error invented the prototype of what was eventually to become the saddle horn used mainly for roping cattle.

Many of the first generation Texas cowboys were missing thumbs, they were unable to tie the lariat around the saddle horn like the seasoned vaqueros. Often they were unable to rope the steer, turn the rope and horn before the animal pulled tight. Consequently, they lost their thumbs. This was the beginning of the Texas tradition of roping technique where the rope was first tied to the saddle horn to lasso the animal. To this day on occasion you will still come across a cowboy who has lost his thumb in the same way.

The Military influence of the Western saddle designs, and in the evolution of what we now call the “western” or “cowboy” saddle changed in shape and confirmation for the military fighting of the Indian wars.

The McClellan Military saddle has been recounted in numerous articles, George B. McClellan developed the saddle over a number of years. This saddle had its beginnings in the Crimean War, where Capt. McClellan was sent, and like many officers observed the activities of the combatants. During this time he perhaps tested a great variety of military equipment. This suggested a wide range of changes to the equipment then used by the U.S. Army and in 1859 the McClellan saddle was developed, it has remained remarkably unchanged since then.

Saddle rigging refers to how the cinch strap is attached to the saddle to hold the saddle in place. Rigging can be grouped into two types; conventional on-tree rigging and in skirt rigging. Conventional rigging places the bulk of the cinch strap under the rigging leg. Insert rigging has proven itself to be just as secure as conventional rigging. In the style the rigging hardware is built directly onto the saddle skirt, or for extra security, built “in” the skirt, where the rigging is attached to an extra metal plate between two layers of leather on the skirt.

Ranch saddles are also known as “all round” saddles and are meant to be multi purpose, suited to both full work days and long rides and keeps you and the horse comfortable for long stretches at a time. They are usually double rigged for more stability. For more rigorous disciplines such as roping and cutting, full double rigging is more appropriate, with a flank cinch, the pressure of roping will easily cause the saddle to top forward and pitch the horses shoulders. A flank cinch will keep the saddle securely in place. Insert rigging is less common in the heavy-duty saddle because of the stress of the activity.