Over the last thirty years, the Merseyside Mounted Police has like many other mounted departments throughout the country, had to renew their Saddlery equipment, as most of the original saddlery and head kits had become unusable due to leather fatigue and the lack of the experienced saddlers to replace the old colonial style military saddles and head kits, that the Mounted department had originally used since its inception in 1886. (The Head kits are still of the same pattern and style as the original. Only the saddles have changed to the civilian style saddle.
Saddles of the original pattern where based on the British Army Cavalry Units issue of the day, being built on two ash trees with leather padded panels and a sprung leather seat for the saddle seat proper. These were built around metalwork frames that joined the two trees and the saddle seat to the saddle frame. This type of saddle had its advantages in the fact that it could be fitted to any horse ( during the war if a horse was lost the saddle went to the next horse ) as the panels of the saddle spread the load and weight of the saddle and rider comfortably over the horses back and allowed air to flow to aid blood flow and circulation, today’s saddles are made to fit the horse by packing the saddles trees with wool fibre to provided a comfortable fit.
The head kit consists of two reins, fitted to a universal reversible port bit for better control of the horse. On the ends of the bit were metal bosses of the Liverpool City Police crest which can be seen in the Photo Gallery in Police Insignia.
The Breastplate shows the central boss on the breastplate depicting the Liverpool City Police emblem.
Below the saddle can be seen riot chains used in the previous centuries, fitted to the bit in times of troubles to ensure that the rider still had control of his horse should his reins be slashed or cut. A Cavalry issue sword. The Leather belts are the sword belt on which the sword is fitted when dismounted and the Pouche Belt that is fitted over the rider’s shoulder again this equipment can be seen in use in old photographs.
All of this equipment was kept in the Mounted Department Best saddle room and was the responsibility of each rider to maintain and to keep polished, his allocated Ceremonial Saddlery to maintain it for the benefit of the future and was kept as part of the Mounted department museum.
Phil Letford - July 2012
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