Enlisted Men’s Saddle, Model of 1917

The following is a transcript of a document authored by Col. Harry B. Jordan, Rock Island Arsenal.  It was undated, but appears to be from circa 1918.

Enlisted Men’s Saddle, Model of 1917

1. The saddles in use from the Civil War to 1910 consisted of the McClellan Saddle, for genera1 use, and for officers, a somewhat finer grade of saddle, the Whitman or the “McClellan-Whitman” a The McClellan Saddle is shown on print 31154.

2. In 1910, saddles, copied from the French Officers’ Saddles known as the “Saumur Type”, were introduced into the American Army. The Model at the Arsenal is known as the “Richmond No. 2”, and is made up with a tree built in England expressly for Raul DuVaul of Saumur, France. Up to the present time no saddle-trees for officers have been fabricated at Rock Island, the trees being purchased and the harness-makers’ work only being done here. The Arsenal is easily able to produce better workmanship than can be obtained elsewhere, the superiority of the Rock Island Saddle being only a question of obtaining a good tree and good leather.

3. There are at present six classes of saddles, Saumur Type, in. the Service.

Total number manufactured.


Polo Saddle, Model of 1912



Training Saddle, Model of 1918



Officers’ Saddle, Model of 1912



Service Saddle, Model of 1912



Officers’ Field Saddle, Model of 1917



Enlisted Mens Saddle, Model of 1917



4. The polo saddle is a light model of the Saumur type with a fabric girth, double in thickness, fastened with three buckles. It has steel stirrups. The prevailing idea of the saddle is lightness; it is the base saddle of which others are modifications. The polo saddle is shown on print 24494

5. The training saddle is a continuation of the polo saddle. It is probable that no more polo saddles will be made. The training saddle differs from the polo saddle in that the training saddle is slight1y heavier and the seat has more pronounced rol1s at the sides to force the rider into a more upright position. The lines of the saddle and the details are also changed somewhat. Of the 848 saddles built, defective stirrup-strap loops are beginning to be reported. The loops are purchased in place on the trees and the broken samples returned to the Arsenal show clearly that some of the loops at least are of inferior workmanship. Steps are being taken at the present time to replace the defective stirrup-strap loops with new loops of R.I.A. manufacture. The training saddle is shown on prints 25441, 25447 and 25438.

6. The officers Service saddle, Model of 1912. The prominent features are

(a) the pressed-steel frame.
(b) the side-bars being hinged to the frame to suit the contour of the animal.
(c) the side-bars extending to the rear to support the equipment and clothing that is carried back of the cantle.

7. The Service; 1912, saddle is similar to the officers’ saddle; it is somewhat heavier, the seat is deeper, and the leather is imitation pigskin. The 1eather of the officers saddle is pigskin. Reports from the officers testing the 1912 saddles in the field indicate that the steel frame and hinged side-bars are not a success.

8. The officers’ field saddle, Model of 1917, resembles the training saddle and may easily be mistaken for it. The principal points of difference are:

(a) the bars of the field saddle extend back of the cantle.
(b) the rolls at the aide of the seat are smaller.

This saddle is an adopted article of issue, the prints following show this saddle.

9 The enlisted men’s saddle, Model of 1917, in a general way follows the design of the officers’ saddle but it is heavier and coarser. The saddle-tree of the enlisted men’s saddle is made at R.I.A., the rolls being formed in the wood instead of being made separately of leather.The seat is not closed, but is open, similar to the McClellan saddle. The saddle is in the experimental stage and is not adopted. Part1y completed drawings are on hand. The origin of the 1917 Sadd1e for en1isted men was the Board, appointed September 10, 1915, par. 44, Special Orders 211, War Dept., to meet at Rock Island Arsenal9 Nov. 1, 1915, (O.O. 475.2/47). The Board met and designed a saddle that was subsequently manufactured and tested.

The test, which was made near Deming, N,M.in September, 1917 with 138 saddles by troops “B” and “D” of the 5th Cavalry, indicates that the saddle with certain changes was a success. (0.0. 475.2/47). Owing to the importance of this article of equipment, further tests are now about to be made at Ft. Riley and 20 saddles are under preparation for this purpose. Prints 28325, 25735, and 31640 show this saddle.