I can tell you about my older Barnsby. Actually, it was an ancient Barnsby.
First, a little history.
Viktoria Bachke Victoria Bachke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
was born to a very well-to-do Russian family. An "only the best" type of family. They fled Russia during the Bolsjevik revolution, and ended up in Trondheim, Norway - my home town. She was a renowned musician and avid horsewoman. Her dear friend and riding companion was a "Rittmester" or riding master (Captain) in the Norwegian cavalry. He was also our family's dear friend and riding companion.
She so much appreciated the rittmester's friendship, that she gave him what she called her most prized possession before she died: her Barnsby close contact saddle. When my family emigrated to the US, the Rittmester wanted us to have something truly special to "remember all the beautiful rides we've shared". He gave us his most prized possession - the Barnsby saddle. The Barnsbys were considered the creme de la creme in Europe, he told us later.
So that's some interesting history, but here's the meat of it.
By the time my mother handed the saddle over to me, it had thousands and thousands of miles on it. I used it for starting young horses and endurance riding. It had no padding, no knee-blocks, flat seat. It had a strange shape where, no matter how well it fit the horse, the cantle was always lower than the pommel. It put me in a chair-seat. Yet somehow, the position was very comfortable, and I had excellent control and contact with the horse. The panels were wool-flocked. I believe it never was reflocked, yet the panels were perfectly smooth still. It had an interesting feature where the flocking was in a sort of pocket. I could actually slip my hand in under the panel to reach the flocking to rearrange it if needed to fit various horses. An odd thing was that the channel was pretty narrow towards the back. I believe this was common on the older women's saddles to make the twist narrow. However, I never had a horse get sore from it.
I sold the saddle this summer to fund the purchase of my new Passier. That saddle just kept going and going... The chair-seat and narrow gullet channel always mystified me, considering the overall quality of this saddle. Comparing the leather quality of my "new" (1977) Passier and the Barnsby though, makes the Barnsby leather feel like cardboard. Could have something to do with it being at least 75 years old, I suppose.
Attaching a couple pics of the saddle and of the chair-seat it put me in.