This is a reconstruction of a heavy duty "gig saddle" that would have been worn by a single horse pulling a two-wheel cart. The horse and cart would have been used to pull heavy loads -- furniture moving, general hauling, grocery delivery vans, stockyard supply wagons, etc.
The thick padding on the top of the saddle protects the horse from the weight of the cart and its contents -- just like the bars and padding on a riding saddle. In the city, a horse would have had to negotiate tight spaces and narrow streets, so the cart shafts would bump and rub against the horse more than they might if the horse was driven in open country. The long, padded flaps protected the horse's sides from the shafts.
This saddle was found by my friend Doc Hammill in Montana, but we think it may have been made by a master harness maker back East circa 1905-1910. Although the saddle was in decent enough shape to hang on the wall, it was not in good enough shape to actually use.
I cleaned up and reused all of the metal parts of the saddle. All other parts are made of new materials -- black vegetable-tanned leather for the saddle and straps, light brown chrome-tanned leather for the flap pads, latigo leather for strap linings, flax (linen) thread, and curled hog and horse hair padding.
Although I modified some construction details, I kept my changes as historically accurate as possible. The way I stitched the padding to the flaps was one instance where I used an alternate, but still traditional method of construction.
This particular item is a custom, one-of-a-kind project made for a past client. Custom Projects are shown for information only; they are not available for regular sale.