To break a horse means to train it to
accept a rider. I gave up trying to break horses in 1988 when
Bocephus' grandfather nearly broke me. That's why we no longer have
a horse-training division here at Invention Mysteries.
When I noticed that the saddle the
Amish man used was a little different from the saddles that we use,
it made me wonder who invented the horse saddle. (No, I don't think
about inventions 24 hours per day, in case you were wondering.)
But first, let's look at the Amish
way of life -- a way of life that keeps them separated from the
The Amish were founded by Jakob
Amman in Switzerland in 1693, and they began immigrating to America
in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They are one of several
Anabaptist groups, which also include the Hutterites and Mennonites.
Imagine life without cars, trucks or
tractors, with no electricity, televisions, radios, computers or
telephones. That's part of the Amish way of life. Visiting this
Amish man's farm made me feel like I had just stepped back in time
to the mid-1800s.
The Amish make their own clothes and
produce much of their own food. They typically don't vote in
elections because they believe that God will bring the right person
into office. They follow the Bible literally and attend church
services at the home of a different member each Sunday. They raise
their children speaking German, which explains their accent. They
learn English when they begin grade school, and their formal
schooling ends when they finish grade school.
They can leave the group once they
turn 18 if they wish, although very few actually do so. Once they
get married, they grow beards. The men, that is. Those who violate
their religious traditions get excommunicated, or shunned. The Amish
live a simple life, but it's a life they choose to live.
Many of the Amish people have their
own businesses, which include making cabinets and furniture, running
leather shops, and training horses. They didn't invent the horse
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in this article]
People were riding horses as early
as 3,000 B.C., long before the Amish came into existence. Prior to
the invention of the saddle, riders would use a blanket, just like
you've seen the Indians use on TV. Some tribes even rode without
bridles, steering the horse by poking it with a whip or a stick that
they carried with them.
It's believed that a tribe called
the Sarmatians, located near the Black Sea in what is now southern
Russia, developed the first saddle in 365 A.D., but it contained
neither stirrups nor a horn.
The saddle made it much easier to
wage war, for without it the warriors wouldn't have been able to
carry weapons or supplies. Attila the Hun's troops rode horses with
saddles as they conquered much of Europe during the fifth century
In fact, it was the Huns who
introduced the saddle to Europe. Roughly 1,000 years later, the
Spanish brought the saddle to America when they arrived by ship in
Spanish cowboys, known as vaqueros,
developed what is now known as the Western saddle in the early
1800s. As a result, the Western saddle was first known as the
Spanish saddle. The Spanish cowboys added the horn to make it easier
for them to lead cattle. Prior to the horn, they would lead cattle
by tying a rope onto the horse's tail.
There are two main types of saddles
in use today: the Western saddle and the English saddle, or as we
say on the farm, a saddle with a horn and a saddle without
Invention Mysteries is written each
week by Paul Niemann. He can be reached at
© Copyright Paul Niemann 2004