Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


26.7.07
  Roman Saddles

Roman saddles look quite different from the English ones I'm used to. They're probably closer to Western saddles though my experience with those is limited to one ride, and it felt pretty unusual for someone trained in the classical style.

Roman saddle from the side; the horse's head would be to the right
Since Roman saddles had no stirrups, they used four horns to support the rider. It's quite comfortable, but movements are more limited than with stirrups. If you want to stand up to have more swinging room for a cavalry spatha, you need to rely on pressing knees and lower legs against the horse's flancs. Stirrups were an improvement there. Also, the horns can get in the way if you want to turn in the saddle to fight someone sneaking up from behind.

Roman saddle seen from the front angle
I'm not sure if most auxiliary cavarly used the same sort of saddle - we know from the Numidian mounted archers that they used no saddle at all but only a blanket. Heavy cavalry like the Parthian cataphracti will have used it, I suppose, because they needed to keep a firm seat to balance the impact of a close attack with the lance. Cataphracti can be compared to Mediaeval knights to some extent, only the latter knew stirrups. But Mediaeval saddles are different from modern ones in having higher support in front and back as well.

I couldn't resist to try the saddle, and I would love to ride a real horse that way. I sit relaxed here (if I sat properly, you shouldn't see an empty space between my knees and the movie horse), but I had to relax in order to take a decent pic without flash; it's the trick to make those work. The light was a bit strange which counts for rather more red in my face than the sunburn I got in Corbridge gave me.

Pictures taken in Carlisle Museum.
 
Comments:
The saddles look fairly comfortable. I don't know why that surprised me! Interesting post.
 
The saddle felt comfortable. I'd like to find out it it still does afer several hours cross country ride, or if I would miss the stirrups then.
 
I train in these saddles as an reenactor. I have done point to point in these saddles. the hardest part is galloping. your thighs dont half hurt. but very comfortable and for me more comfey than an english.
 
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The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK and other places, with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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