Affordable Roman Saddles & Tack
Peter Connolly used the surviving evidence in the form of leather covers, their stitching, stretch and wear marks, as well as metal horn plates, to produce a working Romano-Celtic saddle. He produced a design based upon a solid wooden four-horned frame. Various other attempts have been made to reproduce four-horned saddles using alternatives to the solid wooden frame, in part perhaps to justify simpler and cheaper reconstructions.
However two saddle covers presented at the Carlisle Millennium Project conference in 2004 showed stretch marks where they had been pressed down over a wooden frame. Overall the stitch pattern used on each cover was the same as has been found on other sites, but these covers retained trapezoidal flaps of leather, about half as deep as they were long, with the widest edges lowest when on the horse. They demonstrate that rather than just being sewn up under the saddle as originally believed, leather covers could be secured over the horns and wooden frame of the saddle. These saddle covers simply hung down the sides of the horse, even having a substantial fringed curtain of leather hanging from the lower edge. A piece of wood was exhibited which exactly conformed to the curved piece of the saddle frame that crossed the withers in the Connolly reconstruction.
In both our designs felt is used to pad the frame. Felt is used on the bottom of the side boards to cushion the frame on the horse. The girth is split for added stability, and the attached to the frame using modern nylon attachments for safety reasons. The webbing for the seat is also nylon, and quickly dries out. Remember, riding horses can be fatal and these saddles do not guarantee your safety! Basic breaching and breast straps are included, but no girth. The saddle covers are natural vegetable leather, lightly oiled. You can therefore dye or decorate the saddle covers as you wish. The saddles weigh around 5 kg, and are designed to fit most riders and horses, with the addition of suitable rolled blankets, furs and pads.
At £725 each, or £800 with breast and breaching straps, these saddles should make Roman riding available to all.
The type 1 design.
The old standard design of Roman saddle, with the addition of a Carlisle side curtain. The leather cover is sewn under the saddle frame which makes the cover tight and reduces the creases in the seat. Side curtains are attached to the cover. These saddles feel good and look better than saddles with the curtain. Popular and well tested. The stitching can be split to replace broken horns, and extra padding can be added to ensure the saddle fits your horse. Or specifically padded saddle cloths or furs can be used instead.
The new type 2 design.
The leather cover is fastened over the frame with side curtains hanging down either side. The triplet straps are used to help secure the leather cover as with at least one other ancient saddle. It is very easy to strip the cover and make repairs or add extra stuffing. The cover looks more creased than on the type one, but doesnít move or affect the riderís stability and beds down in time. This design mirrors the stitching and design of the Carlisle find perfectly.
Type 1 on the left, type 2 on the right.