British 1912 model

tmarsh
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We all know about the shortcomings of the U.S. 1912 saddle. But does anyone have the British 1912 model with the adjustable side panels. I believe the construction is different than the US model and apparently that model has lasted without major complications. Has anyone ridden one? Are these models still availble in England? Tom


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John M
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I have two UP1912's dated 1916 made in Canada and an Australian made UP1912 dated 1915. This latter example incorporates the front arch struts which are required to restrain the front arch from leaning back...a feature of many Australian made 1912'S. This feature may not be found on Canadian made UP1912's?.

The self adjusting UP1912 was intended to replace the previous patterns...1890/1902...which were made in 3 sizes. It was a compromise saddle and, I am given to understand, not well thought of in Australia where I have been told about 90% of trooper's saddles of this era were UP1912's. No more were made in Australia after 1918.

I am sure no UP1912's were issued to the British Army. Obviously considered unsatisfactory in the UK..perhaps did not suit the average British cavalry horse?..perhaps too expensive to make and not so easily repaired as the UP1902.
There must have been field trials..perhaps reports exist somewhere?.

Regretably I have not ridden in a UP1912. Would also be interested to hear from anyone who has,

John.M.

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I have an Australian made 1912, produced around 1915, I used this saddle for around a year as my regular riding saddle, the flex in the side bars allows them to move with the horse as well as adjusting to fit, by the way you still need to adjusts the numnah panels to the horses back front to back as per the 1902. The longer flatter seat was very comfortable. Unfortunately due to it's age the seat and flaps were starting to show signs of wear so I decided to retire it.

I did then pick up an Australian modern copy, unfortunately not an exact copy, everything whas that much thicker so it kept me much further off of the horses back than the original, also the seat was blocked much more dipped, not as comfortable as the real thing!

I have heard of a couple of reasosn for them being phased out, one is that the joints do wear and you get a lot of play in the saddle arches with time. Also the 1902 was easier to produce and in use, by 1918 the army must have had a huge stock pile of '02 saddles so no wonder the 1912 never appeared in UK.

The Artificer's Handbook does describe this saddle, indicating that it was due to be general issue.

Incidentally modern saddles such as ' Free and Easy' use the same underlying principles of hinged side bars but with modern materials. Also the Pack GS Saddle still uses hinged side bars.

1912 saddles are rare in UK, I have seen 2 and heard of another and that's it, all seem to eb Canadian or Australian.

Does anyone ahve any official information on their trial etc?

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tmarsh
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Gentlemen, Thanks on the info for the 1912 UP. I am surprised that they are not common in the UK. And also was not aware of problems with them. I wonder if many were used during WW1? I have the 1902 UP and find it to be a satisfactory saddle and have ridden it much in the past. It also was the saddle that my son used frequently when learning to ride. Regards Tom
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">by the way you still need to adjusts the numnah panels to the horses back front to back as per the 1902.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">
I tryed to get into the Saddlery Manuals but my computer wouldn't let me for some reason[}:)]. So what exactly do you mean by the above statement? I have a couple of '02s that I would like to use but I want to make sure of a proper fit. These are for a pair of young horses and I don't want to be wrecking any backs![B)]

"ACER ET CELER"

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Hello Jack:

I believe that the fitting adjustments refered to in "Animal Management" and "The Handbook for Saddle and Harness Makers" are more a reflection to the advanced level of horsemastership in the British service than an indication of any flaw in the 1902 or 1912 UP.

In the context of the horrible losses in horseflesh experienced in the Boer war, the careful attention to saddle fit exhibited in MOD publications is understandable. British Veterinary Surgeons, Major General Sir Frederick Smith most notable among them, were determined to establish procedures and adopt equipment that would enable British mounted troops to remain horsed in a protracted conflict.

Thus the careful instructions for saddlers to see to the fit of the '02 UP's, by adding bits of numnah pad to the panels as required, and, more commonly, through the adjustment of the buckles on the "vee-girth" can be seen in context.

I believe the development of the 1912 UP was more a reflection of the desire to have a saddle that would continue to fit a horse as it lost weight and in campaign conditions, than a belief that the 1902 was not a good fit to the majority of troop horses in peacetime.

General Sir Smith's writings on sore backs and saddle fitting still are referenced in my mounted artillery unit, even though we use Grimsleys and McClellans, not UP's.

Certainly, for pleasure riding a well-conditioned and fit horse of similar conformation to the era's troop horses, I believe the 1902 UP is unlikely to wreck any backs. In my opinion the 1902 UP represents the ultimate evolution of saddlery carefully designed to maintain the horse as fit as possible under heavy loads, and under difficult conditions.

As always, I welcome others views on this subject, especially in such an important topic as keeping our mounts sound.

I hope that helps,

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John Ruf
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I agree on all that you have said.

It is a pity that many of today's english saddle makers ahve not read and followed the wisdon of the cavalry of 100 years ago. I have read many of the British manuals and it quite funny, ironic almost at times to then read the same general wisdom on saddle fitting and causes of sore backs reflected in so called 'lateast thinking' in some of our equestrian publications. To any modern rider adjustable trees, air panels, adjustable V girths etc sound like new fangeld endurance influenced kit.

Talking about air panels the British manuals of circa 1900 refer to them ahving been tried, does anyone have any more info on this? presumably any saddles that were produced will have had rubber that ahs long since gone brittle and beyond use.

The instructions in The Manual of Horsemanship ( and Animal Management etc) sum up simply and in easily understood language how to fit a saddle so as to correctly fit a horse, fo course there was no benefit in the writer making it seem a complex secret art that only the true 'expert' could understand, unlike today's writers on riding who rely on their clientelle always wanting to know more and thinking that the knowledge of their masters is beyond them, or am I being cynical.


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A quick guide from memory to fititng the 1902 UP (&1912)

Select correct sized tree(1902 only) most troop horses take Medium marked M on front arch. S for Cobs, L for large horses.

Remove numnah panels, place bare tree on back, check for general fit, ie shape of side bars.

Repeat process with numnah panels on, add strips of numnah (foam camping mat will do) to fill in any bridging and bring the burrs (bits that poke out at the front) and fans(poke out a rear) clear of the back. even contact should be gained between where the front and rear arches meet the side bars. burs and fans are for carrying kit not weight onto the back.On the 02 saddle strips of numnah may need to be thicker or thinner on the top and bottom edges of the side bars to account for the curvature of the back. note the more padding you add the narrower the gullet will become.

Put a folded (4 fold) saddle blanket on the horse, put on saddle pull blanket well up into gullet, fingers of hand should go under burs and not be pinched when the leg is lifted and pulled forwards. flat of hand should go under fans. Both tests should work with a man in the saddle according to the manual, I have normally found that the burs test ( for free paly in the shoulder) is the hardest to achieve, msot trees tend to be rather flat in front, look for a lack of pressure on the shoulder and it is normally Ok. Check also for wither clearance on the front arch (usually fine there is loads of room)also check that the sideboards do not pinch the wither, if they do extra padding will make it worst not better ( ie no wither pads will help as some civilian riders often think) the only solution is a larger tree (you should not get this problem with a 1912 I have taken mine from a fit hunter and put it on a very round fat cob and it adjusted instantly to fit!)Of course tree size changes were fine if you have access to a stores system full of them as in 1914 (only Kings Tp, Household Cav and Melton Mowbray have anything approaching this luxury nowadays.)

Next ride the horse for 10-15 mins, with the help of an assitant remove the saddle quickly without disturbing the blanket, the side bars will leave an impression on the blanket, you are looking for even pressure over the bars without too uch of an imprint for burs and fans, if this is not what you ahve adjust the felt by adding to fill gaps (bridging where no weight is being taken) or removing it at pressure points. Repeat the test until it is right, stitch or glue the felt in place.

The V girth will have 3 holes in it, it should normally be on the centre hole, lenghtening it moves the girth back, shortening it pulls it forwards and puts more weight on the front end of the saddle. Never punch extra holes and use it with both straps of the same length, this puts all the weight to the rear and can cause a sore back.

Always use proper army girths if you can get them, either split leather or cord (very rare and not managed to get one yet) the have the proper loops and flat buckles to allow the leather surcingle (which should also always be used) to sit properly over the grith. Modern dressage girths add too much bulk around the buckle area.

I know this may sound complicated but follow it slowly step by step and your saddle will fit better and your horse thank you for it, like most things it was not developed and put in the manuals for no reason!



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David thanks for the information. I am not aware that any other military that went into that depth for saddle fit. And the UP made be the most practical saddle ever made. I may be getting into some trouble stating that. It is interesting to note that the German Cav, saddle had extensive padding in the panels while the UP had minimal with the numnah. Would like to have know the reason the Germans went with thicker padding. I am sure they researched it extensively. The goal was the same however to prevent sore backs. I do have a question for John or David regarding the type of stirrup issued with the UP? Was there a standard British issued type? Are there markings on these stirrups? Is the broad arrow also stamped on theses and year of manaufactor like the US 1912 model? I obtained my 1902 with new commercial type and would like to know what to look for although availability may be very limited in the states. Regards Tom
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Stirrup irons, quite lot were used but by the UP era there were a few types:

Pre WW1 a standard 3 bar tread pattern hunting type iron, also the light cavalry oval type hussar irons (mainly victorian era but I have seen later pictures, aminly ceremonial ie CO's Charger)

WW1 standard issue was a plain hunting iron (steel or nickel) with a ridged foot, these are still in use by the army today,albeit with rubber treads put in.

As an aside my 1912 saddle came with very faintly marked WW1 inch and a quater stirrup leathers with German WW1 irons ( a mismatched pair, one is slightly smaller) of interest is that 1 pair were made by Mole & Co, stamped UR 15 and Menden, and the other was made by Linden & Funker, Iserlohn, they are good heavy irons with 2 slots in the outside to take lance cups, a battlefield pick up or trophy? Obviously Mole & Co normally famed as sword cutlers also made stirrup irons pre WW1 on the open market and supplied a batch to Germany!

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David, do you have any photos that you could post regarding the stirrups? Tom
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I have several pairs of the "hussar stirrup" some in steel / iron and others in brass with gilt finish. The latter presumably for officers or yeomanry. And a steel/iron example with loop for the lance bucket.
Although some of my regular cavalry stirrups...the pattern superceding the hussar pattern... are undated, most are dated 1906...seems a popular year of manufacture.
My Canadian and Australian stirrups of the same pattern are generally stamped with WWI dates.
I would clarify David's notes in that the cavalry/military stirrups differ from civilian / hunting in having no shoulder.
The Yeomanry appeared to have used both regulation and civilian type stirrups.
I have a pair of 3 bar stirrups ordnance stamped....but they were issued to a Yeomanry Regt.
This is a brief overview...there are different MK's and dates of issue available for the reg pattern....etc.
Most of my stirrups are on saddles, but I will see if I have photos of a few examples to post.
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Courtesy of John M.

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Interesting stirrup photos, thanks John.

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John,

Good photos of your stirrup irons, looking at the hussar irons it looks like you have picked up my old pair of hussar irons, I traded them in a few years back for a pair of Royal North Devon Hussar ones because they were abetter size to use, my feet only fitted in the other ones in very slim mess wellingtons. Incidentally I find the hussar irons very secure to ride in once you get used to them.

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That's interesting David.
We probably used the same dealer!
I assume the Royal Devon stirrups are the same Hussar "bow" shape but wider. I hav'nt ridden with any of my Hussar stirrups, but interesting to hear they feel comfortable but apparently take a bit of "getting used to".
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I would also have to say that the design of the Hussar stirrups are very pleasing to look at. Tom
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A brief recap on the stirrups....

The British cavalry Regulation stirrup from circa 1900...or a bit earlier....I forget exact dates....had two treads but no shoulder. All contemporary photos of Regular cavalry (at any rate those I have seen) show this pattern in use.
Yeomanry cavalry appeared to be more lax, and are seen with both the Reg pattern and civilian type with the shoulder. And if you refer back to the photos you will see an ordnance marked pair used by a Yeomanry unit...these have the "civilian" shoulder but also 3 treads.

Very interestingly I obtained recently what appear to be an ordinary civilian pair with 2 treads and the shoulder. But.... they are Canadian ordnance stamped and dated 1908.
John.M.

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