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Saddle Pommel - Much of the Outlander series takes place in the 1740s, which was a transitional period for English riding saddles. At the beginning of the 18th century, most saddles had front and back seat panels that practically encased the rider’s pelvis and thighs in a style that had been popular since the medieval period. Metal saddle pommels were common on such saddles. High front and back panels limited the rider’s range of motion, however, making maneuvers such as jumping difficult if not dangerous. Saddles were therefore introduced that eliminated the seat panels or at least reduced them in size. The plainest of these new saddles has a curved body instead of panels to keep the rider seated properly. This is the style that dominated by the end of the 18th century and has persisted as the traditional English riding saddle ever since., Diagram of a saddle showing where a saddle pommel would fit on the saddle. Caption reads:This print of a great saddle shows a small metal pommel very similar to the one found at the King’s Reach site. From François Robichon de Gueriniere’s 1751 Ecole de Cavalerie, courtesy of the Robert Charles Lawrence Ferguson Collection, the Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, DC., Photo image of 2 saddle pommel fragments:Saddle Pommel Fragments, Date: ca. 1689-1711, Site Name: King’s Reach, Site Number:18CV83/186, 438 - This small metal pommel was found in two pieces that fit together at the King’s Reach site, which was the first home of the well-to-do planter Richard Smith, Jr. and his family.  It comes from a saddle that would have had a high front panel, like a great saddle or royal saddle (Figs. D and E below). The holes in the pommel were for attaching it to the saddle, and they would not have shown when the pommel was in place. Saddle pommels are not common archaeological finds on colonial sites in Maryland. That could be because people took care of saddles and few pommels made it into the usual trash piles, or Maryland’s colonial saddles were not always in a style that used metal pommels. Alternately, it could be that archaeologists are not recognizing pommels when they are recovered. The lack of pommels certainly does not reflect an absence of saddles though. English Customs records indicate that an estimated 100,000 saddles were made in England for export to Maryland and Virginia in the first half of the 18th century. Shipping invoices show that imported saddles varied greatly in value and decoration. For example, in 1698, the ship Jeffries had a cargo that included “12 Sadles & Furniture” worth £5.8.0 (9 shillings each), and “6 Hunting Sadles with plush seats trim’d with Silver & all Furniture” worth £8.8.0 (14 shillings each). The Smith family probably had a range of saddles much like the ones listed in the Jeffries cargo. When Richard Smith, Jr. died in 1715, his probate inventory listed 20 horses at the home plantation and several more at other quarters he owned. While he could well have owned a plush saddle with silver trimmings, those used by slaves and overseers on the plantation were unlikely to have such finery. This pommel could come from either the basic saddle or the fancy one, since the metal hardware varied little, while the upholstery fabric and trim separated luxury saddles from their cheaper counterparts., print of an illustration of several saddle styles displaying metal pommels, caption reads:This plate, which was first published in 1741, depicts three saddle styles that had metal pommels: a low saddle or “half English” saddle, with girth straps, a breast collar, and a crupper or tail strap (Fig. C); a “royal” saddle, which was used by cavalry, dragoons, and manservants (Fig. D); and a great saddle (Fig. E). By the end of the 18th century, saddles that had high front and back panels and metal pommels had fallen out of style in favor of the newer style “English” saddle (Fig. G).  Also shown are three views of a saddle tree, which is the internal structure of the saddle (Fig. A);  the underside of a saddle showing the padded panels that contact the horse (Fig. B); stirrups and stirrup leathers (Fig. F); and a ladies’ side saddle (Fig. H). From François Alexandre de Garsault’s, Le Nouveau Parfait Marechal, ou la Connoissance Generale et Universelle du Cheval.
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