On thursday I bumped into a friend of mine and she mentioned that she'd seen a sidesaddle at a local saddler's place (who makes GORGEOUS western saddles). Apparently he was restoring it. So naturally I was curious and called him up. I popped by his shop later in the afternoon.
Apparently a local rancher had brought a few saddles in for some repairs and he'd had this sidesaddle in his barn, so he brought it in too and told him to see what he could do to help it out too. It was an english sidesaddle by a maker I've never heard of, I believe the name was "Louis" something and made somewhere in "MD" (Maryland?). It looked to be a really nice saddle in it's day. Dark leather, smooth pigskin seat & pommels and a little handkerchief pouch on the off-side. The billets looked like they'd never been used! It still had it's balance girth, overgirth and tri-fold girth marked "Mayhew London". (insert little girly squeal here!) It was a HUGE saddle though, the seat was really long and wide. It must have been for someone quite tall. The pommels on the saddle were in rough shape though, really chewed up unfortunately.
The saddler that was working on it really didn't know much about the saddle and had never worked on a sidesaddle. It was really fun to be able to tell him what I could about the saddle and help him out. He'd sewn another strap on the near-side of the saddle as he thought the balance strap went like a back cinch. Luckily that was easily removable. His next question was, "Well what do all the rest of these straps do?", so we went through saddling up the rack it was sitting on. I showed them how your supposed to sit on the saddle and how you "hang on" with your right leg.
The best part was when I brought in the little Copes safety stirrup that came with my $70 saddle. The Copes is the type that swivels backwards and then the footbed falls out to release your foot in the event of a fall. Anyways, he goes "OH we have one of those and I've always wondered what it was for! Now I know it's a sidesaddle stirrup". So then I said "Yup, it sure is, but do you know what it does?", he says "Well what do you mean?". So I pulled it apart and showed him. He says to me "You know, I've been wondering what that was for for 45 years and now I know!".
It was a really fun visit and I made sure to mention that if the owner wanted to sell the saddle, to let me know. hehe