Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mystery Saddle

This saddle was given to my Mother by my Grandfather many, many years ago. I believe he either bought it somewhere or it came with one of the horses he owned years ago. He always called it a WWII Japanese Calvary Saddle, but I have no idea what it is.

I am guessing the horn is either for a crouper or for a pack or something:
A photo of the underside of the "horn." Not sure what the square keeper is for.

Underside of the saddle. I wonder if it is stuffed with horsehair?

The billets have dry rotted. I am the one who broke them, unfortunately...I actually rode in this saddle a few times until we realized the tree was broken. My poor pony.

Below is one of the stirrups that was on the saddle when my Mom got it. I don't know if these were the original stirrups or ones added later. The detail is very simple, yet very beautiful.

Another photo of the back of the saddle:

This is one of those times I wish I had asked my Grandfather more about the saddle before he passed. I never asked where it came from or when he got it. He just always called it the "Japanese Calvary Saddle" and said it was used in WWII. There is no stamp or anything to even indicate what it is or when it was made.
If any of you know anything about this saddle or have seen one similar, would you please let me know? I've googled it, but haven't been able to come up with any info. yet.


Braymere said...

I've seen similar saddles but don't know anything specific about them. Sorry I can't be of more help. It's really a cool saddle and I love that you took so many good pictures of it. I always want to peek under the flaps and look at the panels...

packrat357 said...

you are not the only one on a search for the identity of this unusual saddle. i also have one. the us quartermaste was of no help at all. german ww2 saaddles were similar but yous is a dead on match for the one that i own.

Nemo von Klepper said...


I've had an exact same saddle for over 30 years. I thought mine was a US 1911 US Army saddle, until I sent it to the US Cavalry Museum in Lawrence, Kansas. They identified it as a Japanese military saddle. A Japanese character as such can be identified on mine on the panels under the billits.

This whole saddle can be disassembled down to the tree, simply by removing the billits from the rings on the pommel, then pull the pommel pad up so the rings come out. The "horn" and rear rings feeds through the hole on the cantle. Once the top part of the saddle is removed, to remove the panels, sinply unfasten the buckles on either side, by the pommel. Each pannel will then slide off the "fork" of the cantle. Now the entire tree will be exposed. I can do this whole operation and reassemble the saddle in less than a minute.

I'd be very surprised if your tree is broken. It has metal strapping all over it and I think a jeep could run over it without breaking it (exaggeration). Even if you happen to have a broken tree, I would still keep the saddle for ornament sake.

OK, now to anwer what questions I can. The ring below the "horn" is for a crupper. I once had one for mine and that's where I attached it. The "horn" I've never really established what it was for. When I used my saddle for riding, it was my trail saddle. I'd put my rain slicker up front and a bed roll behind. The bedroll I'd attach to the rings on either side of the "horn". I had saddlebags made which I hooked onto the hooks on the cantle "fork". The only thing I ever used the "horn" for was to pony another horse or to hand my bridle from when stored. These "horns" are quite common on military saddles of European design from the 1800's forward, so I expect merely calling the US Cavalry Museum in Lawrence would answer your question.

I once had a notion to sell mine, however despite being very rare, there doesn't seem to be much of an interest. My wife wants me to keep it in case we get "horsey" again. I wouldn't sell mine for less than $350 since it is worth that much as a saddle alone, besides being rare. Right now it's an ornament in the entry hall, along with a US Cavalry bit from WW II (also very rare!) and various stirrups and spurs from all over the world.

Kind Regards,

Baron von Klepper

Hua Tim said...

If I am not mistaken, this is a model 14 Japanese saddle used during WWII. You can find similar ones on ebay sometimes. It is equipped to regular cavalry solders.

My friend is searching for another model of Japanese saddle so if anyone wants to sell, please send me some pictures. He is deeply into this subject and very knowledgeable in this area. My email is thanks.