Gerard Hogan is undertaking research on the evolution of military saddlery and harness used by the Australian Military from the colonial era to the First World War, documenting changes to allow curators and collectors to accurately identify this equipment and its parts.
Saddlery and harness equipment underwent significant evolution from the early 1800s to 1919 to adapt to tactical and technological changes in warfare. These changes can be identified through recorded material and existing examples.
Trying to identify the correct combination of parts that form a piece of equipment for a particular period can be a confusing and complex task. Identification is made more difficult by the incorrect use of common terms.
Research to date has focused on rare publications, photographs, paintings and examples held in the Australian War Memorial collection. While changes to equipment are documented in relevant categories and chronological order, information needs to be supported by photographs and diagrams. Where possible, electronic web links to libraries, museums and collections will be recorded.
Using documented evidence is important, as examples of equipment that captures the evolution of these changes are limited: leather deteriorates over time, equipment parts are modified or reused to upgrade equipment, and military horse equipment is rarely used in modern times.
An example of modified saddle equipment can be seen in the evolution from pistol holsters to saddle wallets. In the early 1800s, two pistols were commonly used by cavalry, requiring carriage in specialised pistol holsters located on each side of the front of the saddle. When these were discarded they were often replaced with wallets.