Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
Native Americans first ate the horse. Then, they saw Europeans riding the horse, so they stole them and taught themselves how to ride them. If one went lame or broke a leg, they ate it. No kidding.
WhenEVER they managed to steal the horse AND the saddle they used it. Smart people make what they find into things that are useful.
The Hungarian Cavalry rode a saddle without a girth. They used their leg strength to ride just like the Native Americans did.
Also, most Native Americans have assimilated into the American culture. My DH was a History major and has been writing 19th-20th century historical fiction. He has 3 books e-published and 5 more will be up very soon. (He has over 50 books in various drafts beyond these.) We were both CW Reenactors and he has read extensively about the post-CW, Indian War period. That doesn't include the period of time from when the Conquistadors had horses that got free or were stolen by Native Americans, but the condition of the horse, vis a vis a filled in back, wasn't important to them, EXCEPT that a saddle is ALWAYS more comfortable than bareback.
Movies try to replicate the way that they covered their newly acquired or inherited saddles with their own beads or shells or blankets. Wool, btw was unknown to them until the Hudson Bay Company provided blankets to sell to the natives. Wool is just as warm but much lighter than animal skins and the natives quickly adapted to their use, as well.
I suspect that you would like to write about the romantic idea of the American Plains Indian riding with a thong around the horse's lower jaw, war paint on the flanks that looks like hands, and hanging off of the side of the horse shooting at the buffalo. You can find a lot of information about how they hunted online. Visually, Frederick Remington is only as useful as late 19th century. Your best bet is to look for and read journals of the period. That's what we did. Perhaps the place to start and the easiest to find and to read would be from the Louis and Clark (1804) Expedition. They wrote about everything they saw, including the herds of Grizzly Bear. They were shooting at them for meat, as they had down for meat with Black Bear back east, but "outlawed it" bc the bears were infuriated with their shots and bc extremely dangerous, as they are today in Yellowstone Park.
Regarding other tribes, certainly the Eastern tribes rode the horse with the same tack as the Europeans.
Hope this helps you.