Saddle fit challenges and problems from saddle fit are a common theme in barns all over:
- Back problems in the horse
- Rider sitting uncomfortably or behind the movement
- Compensatory problems in response to wrong saddle fit, such as contracted top lines, etc.
Partly, our modern saddle fit dilemma is caused by a variety of different horse and rider shapes, and a multitude of available brands, builds, and sizes. Altogether, this makes saddle fit a science.
How did the cavalry handle saddle fit challenges for thousands of horses?
The M25 German Cavalry saddle replaced the older M90 model in 1925 and was produced through 1945. Since many saved these saddles after the war, you can still find some usable or even collectible specimen today.
The advantages of the M25 saddle:
- Comfort for the horse on distance rides by even weight distribution over a large contact area
- Easy and quick to maintain, clean, repair
- Extreme durability
- Accommodate fasteners for equipment
- Rider comfort as a second thought
In a world of similar backs and hind-ends…. long ago!
Its innovative design solves a lot of saddle fit, back soreness, and rider position problems—as long as horses and riders are relatively uniform in shape. The design seems somewhat genius for the purpose (more on that below), and tailored to a world where riders were relatively lean and male, horses were of similar built and height and horse comfort came before rider comfort (way before rider comfort!).
M25 German Cavalry Saddle – the specs!
A hammock design saddle tree made from wood and rawhide with steel connectors. The tree keeps the rider off the horse’s back and provides some flexibility in response to the horse’s movement and relative comfort to the rider (the key term here is relative). It is also easy to repair—saddle expert Jamie Lynch has worked miracles on replacing the rawhide for some of my old M25s.
By the way: You can take the entire saddle apart to clean or replace worn parts!
The tree came in 5 HORSE SIZES – from narrow (1) through extra wide (5), with sizes 2 and three also showing a difference in rock (2 has more ‘rock’ than 3).
There is no difference in the length of the tree, only the angulation and width.
The seat is attached over the tree and is a sturdy, yet somewhat cushioned construction (key word is somewhat…). All seats are the same size, catering to the idea that all riders in the cavalry had similar shapes and needs.
In the original M25, the billets are wider than today’s billets and attached to the saddle by means of rawhide strips.
- As there was a need to carry come equipment, there are hooks built in to the saddle that make it easy to attach various pouches, etc.
- The saddle tree features steel parts that cannot be replaced.
- There are fasteners for a breast plate and a so-called ‘coat hook’ on the back.
Got an M25 and want to use it? Here is what to watch out for:
- Make sure the wood of the tree is sturdy and free of worm holes. The linen wrapping should be as intact as possible.
- Have an expert saddle repair shop install replacement billets to match a modern girth. Even if you do have an original girth, 80-year-old girths and billets are not safe enough due to crying and cracking leather.
- Examine the cushion for any bumpy filling or holes. Have it re-flocked and patched if necessary. Stay as close to the original materials as possible.
- Always use this saddle in combination with a folded wool blanket (instructions can be found in the HDV12 German Cavalry Manual and here).
- If your horse is very short-backed and low-withered, an M25 may not be the ideal saddle. A tall, high-withered horse is usually the best candidate, just think ‘Trakehner’ or ‘Hannoverian’ (the classic German cavalry horse)…
How to tell where your saddle comes from
All saddles that passed inspection and were used for the cavalry have a stamp on the back of the seat showing the Imperial Eagle. In addition, you will find the size (1 through 5), the year and a combination of letters identifying the maker (please see list below).
If you do source a usable M25 for you and your horse, be warned:
- Your horse may get very used to that much comfort, especially in combination with the folded wool blanket.
- You may love the fact that you are sitting right above and in synch with the horse’s center of gravity.
- However, your hind end may not appreciate the relative firmness of this saddle or your hip bones may be too far apart to appreciate the twist. In that case, you have a dilemma as your horse will demand the M25 and you will long for the comfort of your modern saddle.
Questions? Comments? Please reach out!
Enjoy your horse!
H. Dv. 12 German Cavalry Manual
Buy your copy of the HDV12 German Cavalry Manual right here on the book’s official website and save $5!
M25 German Cavalry Saddle – Makers (thank you to taunusreiter.de)
|bdt , Solewa Lederwarenfabrik , München
bmd , Max Müller , Nürnberg
bmn , Böttche & Renner , Nürnberg
bmo , Deuter , Augsburg
bmd , Carl Kurtze , Pening i. Sa.cdg , Anwaerter & Buback AG , Stuttgart
cfz , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft d. Sattler-, Tapez.- u. Polsterhandwerks, Wien 1
cky , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft d. Sattler ( usw. ) Nordmark , Hamburg
clg , Enst Metzig , Liegnitz
cqr , Sadina – Schell , Finkenwalde / Stettin
cvb , Otto Sindel , Berlin
cvc , Zeschke Nachfolger , Müllrose bei Frankfurt / Oder
cvk , Breuning & Koch , Wuppertal – Elberfeld
cwk , Fischer & Co , Wien
cww , Carl Weiss , Braunschweig
cxb , Moll , Goch – Rheinland
czz , Carl Freudenberg , Weinheim a.d.B.
dde , Robert Larsen , Berlin
eqr , Passier & Sohn , Hannover
|fkv , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft der Sattler ( usw. ) Thüringen , Erfurt
fkx , Gustav Sudbrack , Bielefeld
fmn , Orthey , St. Marienberg , Westerwald
fsy , Albin Scholle , Zeitz
ftb , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft ( usw. ) Baden , Karlsruhe-Hagsfeld
ftq , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft ( usw. ) Sachsen-Anhalt , Magdeburg
ftt , Vereinigte Lederwarenfabrik Eugen Huber , München
fuq , Cottbusser Lederwarenwerk Curt Vogel , Cottbus
frz , Paul Klopfer , Berlin
fys , Kampmann & Rahm , Wuppertal – Elberfeldgap , Ernst Angermann , Schlettau im Erzgebirge
gaq , Otto Stephan , Mühlhausen im Erzgebirge
gdm , Wiko Lederwarenfabrik , Brake bei Bielefeld
gfg , Hepting & Co. , Stuttgard – Feuerbach
gfh , Gustav Schiele , Loburg , Bezirk Magdeburg
gig , Kaspar Roth , Altenburg in Thüringen
gjl , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft ( usw. ) Wuppertal – Barmen
gkg , Roser GmbH. , Stuttgart – Feuerbach
gmo , Kampmann & Rahm , Kaiserslautern
gna , Gustav Buchmüller , Stuttgart
goq , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft ( usw. ) Schlesien , Breslau
gpf , Carl Tesch , Berlin
grz , Gebrüder Krüger , Breslau
gtu , Landeslieferungsgenossenschaft ( usw. ) Südmark , Graz
gut , Schürmann & Co. , Bielefeld
gxc , Reinhold Adam , Oberursel im Taunus
gxy , Gebrüder Klinger , Dresden – Löbtau
gyd , Krumm AG. , Offenbach
gyb , Wilhelm Bauer , Offenbach
gzr , Wöhler & Co. , Wuppertal – Barmen