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MARTIN & MARTIN

Martin and Martin Inc., of London
Philadelphia, and New York, were
pioneers of the saddle industry.
They enjoyed the reputation of
makers of only the best hand made
saddles, harness and riding requisites.

One of the interesting features of the
Martin and Martin side-saddle is the
offside flap, which has a sping loaded
arm to give access to the girth straps
(billetts). Martin and Martin were also
constructed with either a safety bar
or a roller bar system. This worked
well for riders who were to fall off on
the off side but not as good if they
fell off on the near side as the stirrup
fitting could remain lodged behind the
locating pin.     
Martin and Martin were held in high
esteem for their lady's show saddle
with small off flap, choice of pig-skin
or doe-skin seat as desired, and with
a narrow or extended pommel.

Martin and Martin could also boast
the lightest lady's side-saddle made, it
weighed with fittings 23 pounds. The
avertisement read: 'These saddles are 
built on scientific lines and
acknowledged by expert horse women
to be a perfect fit for rider and animal,
by having a level seat the weight is
equally distributed, also giving the
rider a graceful and natural position.'
  

WHITSON & BARNES (plantation type)

I was given the plantation saddle
shown in the pictures by Dene
Masengill from Tennesse, it was
in reasonable condition apart from
the fringing and leather work
around the rail, also part of the over
girth was missing.

Rob Jenkins my local saddler took
on the project of renovation and
was able to match the tassels and
leather work perfectly.

The saddle was secured by two inch
wide leather billet's and I assume a
normal girth would have been used. I
could see no sign that any western
type rigging had been used.
   
With the saddle was a three inch
stirrup which appeared very old, if this
is original the rider would have been a
very dainty lady.

The seat is covered in carpet which
shows very little wear, there is light 
tooling to the safe of the saddle.

The underside has leather lined bars,
as western type and shows no sign
of pommels having been fitted.

I think it dates around 1885-1890 but
I would be interested on other views
about this.     

THE OWEN SADDLE

The Owen saddle was made by Owen
& Co. of 62 Duke Street, London.
Owen & Co. were responsible for
introducing the flat seat saddle which
is in vogue today and became very
popular in the twenties and early
thirties, due to the design of the seat
which was flat and built out of the
offside and not waisted as the earlier
1900 and 1910 saddles. This flat seat
enabled the rider to sit a little more to
the offside therefore helping to
improve the rider's balance by moving
her weight more to the offside, this
was also taken further by the removal
of any padding under the safe on the 
near-side which helped the rider to
centralise her position further.
The Owen saddle is easily recognisable
by the oval shaped stirrup flap and
the safety stirrup fitting. The stirrup
fittings were made as a matching pair
and great care must be made if the
original is lost and a replacement
fitted. 
 
The panels of the Owen saddles
were unique in that the linen was run
across the gullet which connected
the two panels together. Another
first for the Owen was the buliding
up of the near-side seat which
helped to balance the rider.

Although the Owen is considered the
Rolls Royce of side-saddles due to its
type of construction, they are
always rather on the heavy side.     

THE CHAMPION & WILTON

The Champion & Wilton saddle was
first produced with the Wilton safety 
stirrup fitting around 1880. The
Wilton safety fitting was the first
safety fitting in general use, and was
still in production in 1957, just before
the company ceased trading in Oxford
Street on the death of Major Wilton, 
son of Mr H S Wilton.

Champion & Wilton was one of the
first saddlers to incorporate the cut
back head, this enabled the front of
the saddle to fit much lower and give 
the rider a more level seat. This
combined with the safety stirrup
made it the most popular saddle of
the early 1900's. The earlier saddles
had narrow pommels and a pocket
on the offside, also the top part of
the safe was padded.
Around 1903, an addition to the fixed
head was made to give more support
to the rider's right leg, but was not
continued in the later saddles when
sloping heads were introduced.

These Saddles are easily recognised
by their distinctive flap. The design of 
this flap incorporated a loop which
was attached to the lever of the
stirrup bar. Whilst the rider's leg was
over the stirrup flap it was impossible 
for the lever to lift and free the
release mechanism.     
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