03-17-2001, 09:48 AM
I'm looking for either a antique or preferrable a replica Japanese Samurai saddle. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Dan, I couldn't find anything for sale either. But, here's a small piece written by a man who rode a Japanese rig because of lower-leg paralysis:
On traditional Japanese saddles and stirrups
I can't recall the first time I used a Japanese saddle exactly, but at the ranch there was a traditional Japanese saddle, and I tried it out. I went out for a ride on it not thinking about it particularly deeply. The first time I used a Japanese saddle, I couldn't ride for even ten minutes because my thigh muscles were all about to cramp up. Really, though, Japanese saddles are not to be used sitting down. The samurai who rode during the Sengoku Jidai (the "Warring State" Period) brandished swords and spears atop their horses the same way they would if they were standing on solid ground. I suppose that is why all the muscles in the backs of your legs get used when you use traditional Japanese stirrups.
?yPicture of Japanese saddle and stirrups?z
I mentioned this before, but I am handicapped in my lower legs. I have weak leg strength and all the muscles in my lower body have slow reaction time. Traditional Japanese stirrups are not shaped like rings the way western stirrups are, so unless you keep your weight firmly on the stirrups your feet slip off them. As a result, at first I could barely trot properly. So the natural question is why I would continue to ride using such troublesome stirrups.
Before any of this occurred, I had not been interested in horseback archery, nor had I had any interest in riding horseback with armor or swords. So it's not that I was interested in traditional Japanese saddles and stirrups from the start. In fact, it's quite the opposite; I had no interest in any of that.
A primary reason I came to have such a good impression of Japanese stirrups was that they were so easy to use. That has some connection to my leg disability. For me, who started riding horses for the purpose of making a trip later, it was obvious that the time I would spend atop a horse would be quite long. When using a western saddle, the stress placed on the ankles is considerable, and after two or three hours of riding, I would sometimes find that upon dismounting from the horse, my ankles had stiffened up so much that I could hardly walk. I was able to fix that situation through using Japanese stirrups.
Since my ranch offers riding for the physically handicapped, I had someone with a lower-body disability try riding with the Japanese stirrups. Upon trying them, he said that the way the entire leg touches the stirrup gave him a feeling of increased stability atop the horse and that he could ride feeling more secure. Japanese stirrups might have some potential for use in horseback riding for the handicapped. If I have the chance in the future I would like to have a variety of people try it out.
With Japanese stirrups, when riding up a steep incline, your feet come out of the stirrups. But I had the opportunity to find a way to overcome this to some extent through some training I did. This came about thanks to a horse names Asobu (pronounced "Ah-soh-BOO"), a 4-year-old gelding washu-ba from Hokkaido. He was the very first horse I got with the intention of using on my trip, which the owner of the ranch, Mr. Kikuchi, had found for me. Asobu walked such that he moved both his right legs in unison and then both his left legs in unison. Unlike most horses which walk by moving the legs diagonal from each other in unison, horses like Asobu don't bounce up and down so much. Thanks to him, I became able to trot firmly in place on the stirrups despite being a beginner to Japanese saddles. I was able to strengthen my leg strength and get used to Japanese stirrups thanks to riding Asobu with the Japanese saddle. Had Asobu-- who has now left the ranch-- not been there as I was training, I am certain that I would not have been able to learn how to ride in a Japanese saddle. I am really thankful for having been able to be with Asobu.
Even still, it wasn't that I was yet able to ride properly with Japanese stirrups. I still wasn't able to decide whether to undertake my journey using a western saddle or a Japanese one. Although I didn't yet have the confidence to travel using a Japanese saddle, I still wanted to keep that open as a possibility.
03-22-2001, 06:59 AM
Thanks alot for the info Guy, I do appreciate it.
03-24-2001, 06:11 PM
You might check with these folks -- since they do mounted archery, presumably they also know where to get saddles and tack.
http://www.ogasawara-ryu.gr.jp/english.html (yabusame, or Japanese mounted archery)
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