JQMD Lungeing Cavesson

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I have a JQMD lungeing cavesson bearing the stamp "US / JQMD / 1942 / JB" (which I know is a common later cavalry stamp used by the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Depot). I can't find any other examples of a cavalry lungeing cavesson, which I assume might be an issue with people not knowing what a lungeing cavesson is or the proper name, or the fact that as a piece of training equipment - as opposed to parade or riding gear - it's inauspicious looking as far as cavalry tack goes, without eagle rosettes or bling. The heavy brass nose piece is stamped "made in England". I also know the JQMD did tack repairs and that it may not be US issued at all, but possibly simply repaired at the Depot. I know cavalry officers were often trained at Samur and aquired their own tack if they chose, and the lungeing cavesson is a staple of classical French ground training/breaking.


I was hoping someone could give me some info about the cavesson, and also clear up a question I have regarding the common stamping: Does 1942 refer to the year, or is it in reference to something else? I ask because it certainly seems like it would be referring to the year of manufacture, yet I see people with tack with the same stamp dating their items closer to 1908, and I'm genuinely confused on the topic.

Interesting story on how I came to have this lungeing cavesson - I'd had a lovely, sturdy lungeing cavesson for many many years which a horse broke by suddenly rearing back while learning to trailer load (unfortunately the cheek pieces broke, which are the hardest of the pieces to replace/repair as the leather is sewn onto the brass nosepiece). I decided to go to the local used tack shop to replace it, as I'm quite particular about my tack and a new lungeing cavesson which fits my requirements would be extremely expensive: it must be heavy leather with sturdy fittings, with a jaw strap between noseband and thoatlash to prevent slipping without discomfort to the horse or the need to over-tighten the throatlash. It must have a heavy, jointed metal nosepiece well secured over a leather cavesson (nose strap) with adequate padding. It must have a sturdy, movable and well-secured central ring, and ideally side rings.

On the tackstore's large rack of lungeing cavessons, only one fit the bill (the others were nylon, inferior quality, had no jaw-strap, etc) but it looked absolutely disgusting, covered in thick dry gunk and dusty and possibly moldy and just hideous looking. However it fit my requirements and some gentle flexing showed the leather was dry but not (at least so far as I could tell under the gunk) dry rotted. Plus I respected that the previous owner had correctly left the keepers done up (it's tidy, and otherwise they shrink and become unusable). I've restored quite a lot of old tack and figured this was an "old faithful" cavesson which at least at one time was of high quality and decided to take a chance, hoping that at the least perhaps a few pieces would be in good enough shape to scavenge for my poor recently busted cavesson, so I took a chance and bought it.

Upon cleaning I quickly discovered the gunk was actually an EXTREMELY heavy application of glycerin soap, which I assume had been applied as a protectant prior to storage by the last user of the cavesson. Which further goes to show (and I am MILITANT about this) that glycerin soap is a protectant and sealant, NOT a cleaning agent as it seems *everyone* today very incorrectly believes, due to a narrowing in the definition of "soap" over the past century. Anyways. I've seen more modern tack ruined by overapplication of glycerin soap (and neatsfoot oil - English tack I should clarify) than anything else, and I've gotten quite skilled at removing glycerin from leather - this is no easy task as the glycerin saturates the leather and fills in the internal fibers, but is waxy in nature and doesn't provide any moisture to the fibers - for storage this is actually quite effective at preventing rot, but in tack in use it quickly destroys the leather as the fibers lose the flexibility required in use (and standard glycerin soap is too low pH for modern-tanned leather, but that's another tangent).

To wrap up the story I ended up quite pleased with my restoration job, the preservation and quality of the lungeing cavesson, and my new training tool (to which I become very attached in general - "take care of your tack and it'll take care of you" as they say). I'd noticed a rather innocuous stamp on tbe crownpiece but didn't pay much attention to it until I was getting close to the finishing touches of my particular method of tack restoration, and then I finally squintingly read the stamping and was quite surprised.

So I've found myself in a quandary - do I use this piece of tack and give it a "second shot at life" (it will likely eventually perish though, as training tack does sooner or later), or should I hold on to it as a display piece simply for the novelty of it, or does it have any value/would it be better served in the hands of someone who would appreciate it more than me? (I do collect unusual and historic tack, but if it's something which could complete someone's collection I'm sure they'd appreciate it more than I).

Sorry for the long post but it's the strangest way I've ever aquired a piece of cavalry tack, and I literally can't find any other example so it's a bit of a mystery to me.


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Todd
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Welcome, and it sounds like you have an interesting piece. Things like this are difficult to find, as they tended to be used up.

I'd be willing to stick my neck out and say it's likely a M1912 cavesson, as that is the only one (iirc) that was actually adopted. If you will be patient, I can dig up the original 1912 equipment description and plate, and definitely find a later Rock Island and Quartermaster drawings for the cavesson set.

The markings are pretty straightforward, 'US' being the standard govt. property mark, 'JQMD' being the manufacturer, '1942' being the year made, and 'JB' being the inspectors initials. JQMD did repairs, but I only get the impression it was for officers equipment, primarily saddles. Expendable items like this would not have been likely candidates. Design specific hardware could very well have been sourced and used foreign-made pieces, likely some NOS acquired in previous years. Can't imagine much harness hardware was being shipped across sub-infested oceans for the limited needs of horse training.

Have an excellent ammonia-castile soap recipe from a 1940 manual that is cheap and incredible for basic cleaning - need to dig that one up as well.


An ancient, but golden oldie thread on leather care - this one should be framed somewhere on the site:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1922&p=15216&hilit=castile#p15216

Copy of 1940 manual mentioned above:
https://www.militaryhorse.org/care-of-l ... equipment/
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Todd
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From Ordnance Memoranda No. 1715 - described the new 1912 horse equipments:
The Cavesson and Longe.

These articles are recommended supplied for training purposes, at the rate of one to each 30 horses, or major fraction thereof.

The cavesson consists of the following parts:

A nose band of malleable iron, bronzed, which is hinged at the center and on each side, making four pieces in all. To the center hinge is fastened a swivel and ring. The metal nose band as above is lined with a 7 to 8 ounce collar-leather pad reinforce, to which is fastened a gray felt pad 1/2 inch thick. The felt pad and its outside leather reinforce is fastened to the metal nose band by six small nose-band straps. The rear ends of the nose band are connected by a nose-band billet and chape of bridle leather. 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 ounces and inches wide. This piece has a buckle and four holes for adjustment.

Attached to the nose band on either side is a cheek piece of 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 bridle leather 1 inch wide and 9 inches long, with a buckle at the upper end. These cheek pieces buckle on to the lower ends of the crown piece, which is of the same kind of leather. This piece, however, is cut 1 5/8 inches wide and the lower ends split into a 1-inch strap which fastens to the cheek pieces and a 5/8-inch strap which fastens to the throat latch, a strap of 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 bridle leather 5/8 inch wide and 17 3/8 inches long. Below the throat latch the cheek piece, billet, and chape are stitched to the cheek piece. These two assembled form a strap of 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 bridle leather inch wide and inches long.

The longe is made of 1-inch olive-drab cotton webbing, oval in section and 30 feet long. On one end is fastened by a 2 3/4-inch lap a 7/8-inch swivel eyebolt snap, bronzed.
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Coyote
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Todd - Thank you, that is indeed the lungeing cavesson I have, down to the finest detail. How very interesting! And thank you as well for the tack care links - I would have loved to have participated, and have also learned some things I was unaware of (bearing in mind I'm often working with more modern pieces, or with the goal of using the tack items). I despise the trend of overpriced "calfskin" modern pieces, which are about as durable as a wet paper towel and almost universally ruined by first-of-May dunces using neatsfoot oil on them. Give me full grain, dammit!

I've heard of ammonia soap in saddle care but never come across it or used it. I imagine the pH is quite low due to the ammonia. In the instance of surface mold I've always used 1/5parts white vinegar/water, followed up by an application of simple white Dove soap if necessary. By and large I find using any detergent on leather to be too stripping and typically unnecessary except in cases of overapplication of unsuitable oils or glycerin, especially when mixed with dirt while in use (then you get jockeys under the jockeys, lol). Of course historic leather and modern leather are two different animals, as are preservation and restoring to use. It may be an unfavorable opinion but in general I eschew all but the absolute most infrequent use of oil in tack care, and prepare a conditioner of my own making based on each individual piece's unique needs (which to be fair does generally include some small quantity of oil). Although I'm no fan of glycerin soap, I've found adding a small amount to my preparations generally helps the leather hold its moisture better (too much and a white film is deposited and requires buffing off with a knapped cloth). I've become quite a fan of finishing off my projects - and using for maintenance purposes - Obenhauf's Leather Protectant. A piece is finished (and this particular step only rarely repeated and after much use) with a light application of a bee's wax I picked up in New Zealand, and polished with lamb fleece until gleaming.

For longterm storage I like the classic Cocholine, but it's hardly suitable for display and quite messy (nor appropriate for light colored leather). Though I'd never seen it used as such before, I have to say the soaking of the cavesson with glycerin soap - as troublesome as it was to strip and as ugly as it looked- did a shockingly fine job preserving the leather to the extent I would still consider it a usable piece of tack, despite receiving no maintenance (I assume) since whenever it was retired. I'll be filing that fact away.

I love leathercare and would be interested to hear your insights, as well as the recipe for that ammonia soap if you locate it.
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Todd
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An excellent observation that too many people miss entirely - working leather vs. preservation leather. To preserve a leather item is a whole different enterprise than to maintain and extend the life of working leather.

That ammonia soap recipe is buried in that 1940 manual I linked to - the stuff is crazy good. I once had a relic skeleton-rigged 1917 packer saddle that had ( rather miraculously I thought ) managed to have an even coat of dried cow manure on all surfaces - top, bottom, sides, crevices... amazing, but a different story. In any case, a little soaking and that jug of ammonia soap/detergent and a bristle brush caused that seat to explode in suds and filth and accumulated dirt. Every crack and crevice of that leather was cleaned out. Only problem, as I believe you note, it strips EVERYTHING, including waxes, oils, first names.... everything. You have to oil or treat in some manner before the leather dries, or you have bigger issues.

Agreement here - less is more.

Now, historical leather is another issue altogether, and begs much larger questions that don't have a lot to do with leather treatments. There are amazing preservation processes out there, and rather astounding resistance to them by the duly designated authorities of the museum universe.
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