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I don't think they were made to go over a saddle because the lettering and decoration is right where the stirrup leathers would hang. It would cause premature wear to the stirrup leather, possibly knock off the brass, and the rider's leg would cover it anyway. In the mid-19th century a lot of Army medical stuff was marked "MD" for Medical Department so that's a possibility. If they were made to hang over hames, they may have been meant to identify an ambulance. In the Civil War period there was no standardized way of marking ambulances and each unit pretty much made it up as they went along. This is extremely speculative, of course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I don't think they were made to go over a saddle because the lettering and decoration is right where the stirrup leathers would hang. It would cause premature wear to the stirrup leather, possibly knock off the brass, and the rider's leg would cover it anyway. In the mid-19th century a lot of Army medical stuff was marked "MD" for Medical Department so that's a possibility. If they were made to hang over hames, they may have been meant to identify an ambulance. In the Civil War period there was no standardized way of marking ambulances and each unit pretty much made it up as they went along. This is extremely speculative, of course.
AMBULANCE AND MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, MAKES FOR AN INTERESTING THEORY!!! MORE KEY PECKING AHEAD!! THANKS BOMBPROOF!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Just taking some rough guesses here.

MD would translate to 1500 if the letters represent Roman numerals.

This is not a saddle, but a cover of some type. The holes correspond to where stirrup leathers would pass through.

The placement of the lettering would proclude the use of a surcingle. Meaning that, unless there are attachment straps on the underside, it would be held in place by the weight of the rider and the stirrups.

That this is a pair, with the lettering on opposite sides indicates they may have been used on a team harnessed to a caisson, or a carriage.



If used on carriage horses, they may not be military, but for a wealthy family.

Just throwing some things out there. Hope it helps some.
You were right!!! Looks like they're hames covers for protection and decoration.
Helmet Sports equipment Saw Wood Bumper
 

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Could be American or elsewhere in the world. They've been in use for a long time. Only recently (last 100 or so years) has that style fell out of fashion.
 

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You can see them in use if you hunt around online - for example, on a 20-mule team pulling an original borax wagon at Bishop Mule Days:
- there's a good view just about 50 seconds in.
[That one doesn't embed, but shows fine on Youtube.]

On a 40-horse hitch in a parade - they pass the camera about a minute and a half in:

(I can't take credit for finding this - I did a search for images on the keyword "hames cover" because I wanted to seem one on a harness, and that was a complete failure, but one thing led to another and I ended up finding a thread on large hitches on a different discussion board, with lots of links to videos, and while watching a few videos noticed these two showed the covers. Ah, the internet!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
You can see them in use if you hunt around online - for example, on a 20-mule team pulling an original borax wagon at Bishop Mule Days:
- there's a good view just about 50 seconds in.
[That one doesn't embed, but shows fine on Youtube.]

On a 40-horse hitch in a parade - they pass the camera about a minute and a half in:

(I can't take credit for finding this - I did a search for images on the keyword "hames cover" because I wanted to seem one on a harness, and that was a complete failure, but one thing led to another and I ended up finding a thread on large hitches on a different discussion board, with lots of links to videos, and while watching a few videos noticed these two showed the covers. Ah, the internet!)
WOW!! LOVED THE VIDEO!!! THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WAS HOPING TO SEE!! THANKS AVJUDGE!!!
 

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Man, I miss those days. RIP Dick Sparrow. He was one of my mentors that taught me to drive larger hitches. Was an outrider for this hitch one summer.
 
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