Just bought a new saddle. It's an original British Yeomanry* Officer's saddle (also sometimes called a Colonial saddle). It was probably made in the early to mid 20th century. It's in outstanding condition. I suspect that I'll replace the billets within the next year because I'm paranoid about that sort of thing.
YeomanrySaddle01_zps3cbf2f01.png Photo by Smile225 | Photobucket
It was designed to carry the officer and his equipment (a standard load in the 300 pound range including tack, rider, weapons, gear, etc.). To get a good weight distribution the bars extend significantly beyond the cantle. This is a chacteristic of many European military saddles. This design is based upon the British Universal Pattern saddle, whose period of service is 1795 until today. For my longer backed mare this is just fine. We have a shorter backed mare and I'll try this on her next week. It may be too long, but maybe not.
It does ride more forward than I'm used to, but we are well clear of the shoulder and gait quality was not only not degraded, it was excellent.
Yesterday I got a good "workout" as my mare was feeling REALLY good and we "burned some calories" for about 45 min. When I pulled the saddle the sweat pattern was the most even and consistent I've ever seen and there was not a hint of back soreness. We are going foxhunting again this weekend and I may ride it to see how it goes there.
It has the hard seat common in military saddles. I'm used to the softer seat of my Stubben, but this was not too bad after 45 min. We'll go out again today in a lesson so I'll have a bit more chance to develop "iron pants."
At a minimum I've got a crackerjack event and parade saddle. I'll likely stick to the Stubben for daily riding (if only to conserve a real, historical artifact).
*The Yeomanry in Great Britain was sort of cross between the National Guard, Army Reserve, and organized Militia. It was also a major social grouping.