I’ve just received a really nice email from someone seeking information about a German military bridle. I’m hopelessly ignorant about military equipment, so I thought I’d throw the question open to those who are far more knowledgeable on the subject.

German military bridle

Detail of German military bridle

Detail of German military bridle

Detail of German military bridle

Detail of German military bridle

Detail of German military bridle

Detail of German military bridle

Detail of German military bridle

Photo of German drummer

My name is Nick and I live in Oklahoma City, U.S.

I have recently obtained a horse bridle with reins and decorative neckpiece for a horse that was originally obtained overseas during World War 2 when the German officer who had the tack on his horse was shot and killed. The American soldier who brought the bridle and neckpiece back passed it down to his son, who then sold it to me.

I am looking for any information as to what type of German unit would have used this type of tack, what rank of officer might have had it, age, maker, etc. Any information that you could provide would be greatly helpful. The story is very intriguing and the bridle itself is even more intriguing. It appears to be a Napoleonic-style bridle as it makes an “X” across the horse’s forehead with a silver medallion in the middle of the forehead. The browband is leather with chain-link overlay, and the noseband is leather with silver-toned conchos. All metal on the bridle is silver-toned. The neck piece consists of a thick leather band, approximately 8 inches long with sheepskin underlining and heavy chain link draped across the top and secured to the leather. The chain itself is approx 2.5-3 feet long and comes together at a crescent-moon medallion that has a face on it. Hanging from the crescent moon is a horse-hair tassel that is dyed red, white, and black. I have been researching to find what type of tack the German/French/Polish cavalry used during WWI and WWII, but have not had much luck.

Again, any information would be much appreciated. I have attached pictures of the bridle and neck piece to this e-mail. I have also attached pictures of a German SS drummer whose bridle is very similar and also has the crescent moon pendant with horse hair tassle hanging below the horse’s throat.

Thank you so much for your time

I couldn’t identify the bridle, but please look at the images & see if it rings any bells.

By the way , the extraordinary pictures of the German drummer come from “War in Pictures” on the Pictures History blog ( you can find it here , I fear days may pass exploring those images). Please do scroll down to the fantastic picture of the drummer at the bottom of this page

German drummer
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For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

A rhyme that dates back centuries. Today we understand it as a proverb – neglecting the small details of a project can lead to its failure.

WW2 horseshoe case with sword frog

WW2 horseshoe case with sword frog

WW2 horseshoe case with sword frog

WW2 horseshoe case with sword frog

However, in the not-so-distant past the saying could be taken much more literally. The army regularly used horses right up until the end of the second world war. The spare horseshoe case shown on the left was a standard piece of equipment.
It is made of good quality tan leather and it would have been attached to the saddle. On its outside there is a leather loop or sword frog. Inside there is the pocket for the horseshoe and a small section for spare nails.
Neither of these compartments appears to have been used. The small pocket is stamped “Cliff.Walsall 1940″ with an ordnance mark. Under the flap it is stamped again “60″ with another ordnance mark.
WW2 horseshoe case with sword frog
I am woefully ignorant about cavalry equipment, there are many people who are very knowledgeable about the subject . The Society of the Military Horse is a good place to find out more.

The regulations governing the design of these cases changed over time. Variations in how the case closed, the presence or absence of the sword frog, how the case attached to the saddle – all these things can tell us about the date of the case. The horseshoe case shown below is an earlier example, probably dating from the beginning of the twentieth century.

1901 horseshoe case with sword frog

The spare horseshoe case was only one very small piece of equipment carried by mounted troops. Their saddles were specially designed with extensions behind the seat (fans) and in front (burrs) they had many loops and D rings.
I will try to find some images to illustrate this

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Military dress stirrups

I bought these stirrups in London, they fascinate me. They are made of brass, which was once gilded. Only a little gilding remains, most has been enthusiastically polished away, there are residues of brass polish in just about every crevice of the stirrups. I really should clean them, but there are a lot of crevices.

Military dress stirrups

I’m assuming that they are military and British because their decoration is very similar to that on a few pairs of officer’s dress spurs that I have had. I think that the casting shows oak leaves, acorns and olive branches. Or maybe laurel. Oak is supposed to symbolise strength and olive peace. Other military traditions also used oak and olive, so the stirrups may not be British – there are many people who know infinitely more than I do about these things, so I am open to correction.

 

 

 

 

Military dress stirrups

They are very heavy, more than 2 pounds / 950g each – I think they could only have been for ceremonial or parade use, they would have been quite impractical in the field. I believe they would have been used by a high ranking officer, but have not been able to find out what rank

The most remarkable thing about them is that they have a release mechanism, much like a Wheeler’s safety stirrup. Somehow I never associated armies on parade with safety stirrups…. I suppose no one’s above getting dragged.
There are a few more images at www.sportingcollection.com/stirrups/stirrup168/stirrup168.html

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