For Your Consideration,1917 Antique McClellan WWI Military Saddle. This saddle was purchased in October 2008 for the purpose of riding in the MA National Lancers cavalry unit. I am no longer riding and therefore am offering the saddle for sale. This saddle has been ridden in continuously for the past 5 years in weekly drill sessions, 10 – 15 parades annually and the Paul Revere/William Dawes reenactment ride annually on Patriot’s Day, logging roughly 7 miles during each of those rides alone.
The seat is 12” and in overall good to very good condition. There are two open seams along the bottom perimeter of the saddle. The one at the cantle is roughly 2” long, open roughly 1/8” – ¼” and appears to have been patched previously. The other open seam is at the pommel, measuring roughly 1” long, open roughly 1/16” – 1/8”. This seam too may have been patched previously. All brass fittings are present and firmly attached to the wood tree beneath. The quarter straps at the pommel and cantle appear to be original and are cracked in all four locations where they hold the brass rectangular fittings that accept the side quarter straps. Considering the cracking, they have been sound and maintained as supple as possible. The cantle has the initials “H.R.S” engraved on the back by a sharp pointed object. The person I purchased the saddle from liked to think these were placed on the saddle by the original soldier assigned to this saddle.
Believed to be the original stirrups, both are stamped “US” on the front, bottom, center of the leather hoods and both are stamp dated “1917 KA” on the bottom of the wood stirrup. One stirrup is in great condition, the other is in worn condition with surface splintering of the wood on the bottom of the stirrup and cracked leather hood.
This saddle comes with two sets of side quarter straps, two sets of quarter strap rings with cincha straps attached and two sets of stirrup leathers.
Set #1 – Original to the saddle when I purchase it. The quarter strap rings, with attached cincha straps, appear to be all original. The leather medallions, to which the rings are fastened, are stamped in the center with “1917” and a word that cannot be totally made out, ending in “SSONS”. The rings appear to be steel and exhibit some corrosion. The sheep’s wool is still in tack on the back side of the medallions. The side quarter straps that came with the saddle may not be original to the saddle, but I am guessing. They are the only part of the assembly with steel buckles instead of brass. However, based on some “Googling”, I do believe them to be fairly old. Each buckle has a small anchor stamped into the steel on the backside that seem to indicate they were manufactured by North & Judd, a company that manufactured horse related items from roughly 1830 – 1960. Information found on the web indicates North & Judd did supply the military with products both during the Civil War and during WWI. The only reason I question whether they are original to the saddle is the fact they are steel and not brass. The first set of stirrup leathers have leather fenders attached to them. They have brass, rectangular buckles and the fenders are riveted to the leathers. The stirrup leathers themselves, behind the fenders, have an embossed line along each edge for the entire length of the leathers. I do not know whether the fenders and/or leathers are part of the original saddle, as I could find no information relative to them in my research. In general, the leather associated with this this set is as would be expected on a saddle of this age. Which is why…
Set #2 was purchased from Tom Smith Maker, Springville, NY, by me, to bring the saddle to usable condition. All straps have been meticulously maintained. There are a few hairline surface cracks on the stirrup leathers and side quarter strap leathers from use. The stirrup leathers are without fenders. The buckles are all brass. The quarter strap rings are steel. The stirrup leathers have a half turn in them to properly position the stirrup. The cincha straps are in great, supple condition. They are permanently attached to the quarter strap rings and are VERY long. Given that I never rode a horse smaller than 16HH, and all of draft cross breeds, these cincha straps would likely need to be cut shorter for use on a lighter breed horse. There is also a removable leather flag holder for the right stirrup that was purchased new.
This is an AMAZING saddle and may not be for someone simply looking to put it on a stand for display. The real value in this saddle is in the fact it is still being ridden in today. I will add the disclaimer that the decision to use this saddle is solely that of the purchaser given the age and condition of the original elements of the saddle and the unpredictability of leather as a natural material that decays over time. In particular, I have been told by others they would not trust the original quarter straps that are cracked and likely original to the saddle. I will say that personally, I have always felt very secure in this saddle, have focused on the original quarter straps by keeping them well conditioned and would not hesitate to continue using this saddle for its original intended purpose.
PLEASE contact me for additional photos and I will take as may as you want. I want the buyer of this saddle to be as happy with it as I have been.
There are numerous small scrapes and bruises not visible in the photos, as you would expect to see on a saddle that has been in operation since 1917. Let me know if I can provide any additional information. Thanks for considering.