Monday, June 27, 2011

That Other Saddle

A quiet and not unpleasant morning at the flea market yesterday. Nothing spectacular, just a little bit of everything, including a couple of decent Hartlands. I haven’t been seeing much of them around these parts lately, so it’s nice to know they haven’t been completely "mined" out yet. I don’t have a huge Hartland collection - basically one shelf, a bunch of Tinymites, and some religious figurines. And a couple of those Western Horses that aren’t Western Horses.

Speaking of horses with saddles - and in case you didn’t see it before - here’s a good discussion on Blab of that other saddle I referred to in one of my posts some time back, about the Western Prancing Horse:

The piece I saw was on a Western Prancing Horse, hence my initial belief that it might have been an early WPH accessory, not a Western Horse one. It does seem more logical that this saddle was a transitional one for the Western Horse, when it switched over from the snap-ons to the slip-ons. It’s basically a snap-on saddle without a cinch, molded in white plastic that’s "stained" either gray or tan, like the later slip-ons are.

These saddles were made, presumably, after the decision to discontinue the snap-on saddle was made, but before the mold for the slip-on saddle was ready. And not for long, based on the fact that they don’t seem to be all that common

The exact date on these is a little iffy; the slip-on saddles first appear in Breyer literature in 1968, but Breyer was notorious for reusing older stock photographs back then, so it could have been a year or two earlier than that.

As to why nobody notice them before - well, that’s an easy one. Hobbyists weren’t looking for it. Western Horses are, for the most part, so common and familiar that we rarely take notice of them in the first place. If we do bother to notice that the saddle seems to be a little bit different, we assume that it was either a later substitution or mix up.

It doesn’t help that the Hartland Champs came with a very similar saddle, in a very similar color. That’s what I thought, initially, when I saw that listing several years ago on eBay. "Hmm, why would a WPH have a Hartland saddle on it? Weird." I bookmarked it, then forgot to bid. I’m usually pretty good about following up on my hunches, which is why it still bothers me after all these years.

The one I saw on the WPH must have been accidentally switched out by a previous owner; it’s also not out of the realm of possibility that the saddles got mixed up at the factory. It doesn’t take much to make either saddle fit either horse, just some heat and a little pinching or pulling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As someone who played with these horses as a child (I was born in 1944), I must remind you that we were not at ALL fussy about what saddles went on what horses. If they fit, they went on, so any mixes of hartland, breyer, ohio plastics, hong kong (later) etc. can be found on any horse that has come down through the years pretty much as it was left by its original owner. I recently got my first customized western horse back from my 16-year-old granddaughter, who originally inherited it from my daughter, who originally got it from me. It's a mess now but I may restore it to its original thread-tailed, thread-maned chestnut beauty some day. Or not. And as for seeing a "hartland" saddle on a "Breyer" horse on ebay, don't forget the early Hartland Western Horses and the early Breyer Western Horses looked nearly identical, so much so that the Hartland Creampuff and the Breyer Creampuff are often mistaken for each other, and yes, BOTH do exist.