A saddlecloth or pad. The saddle with a “tree” was unknown till the fourth
century, although the packsaddle seems to be of much earlier occurrence.
In the absence of stirrups (later staffae, stapides
, etc.), which are
not mentioned till the emperor Mauricius (A.D. 602), there were several ways of
mounting—as jumping with or without the aid of a lance-shaft, with the assistance of
), or from steps (ἀνάβαθρα
). The last were set up, according to Plutarch, along the main roads by
C. Gracchus. Or, the horse was taught to kneel at the word of command (Sil. Ital. x. 465).
In more ancient art the horse is represented ridden bare-backed. Later, saddle-cloths, often
double or with pads beneath, and fastened with one to three girths, appear with increasing
frequency. The most elaborate trappings of this kind are seen on Scythian antiquities of the
fourth century B.C.
The use of trappings was originally regarded as effeminate by the Romans (Varro on Cato ,
Ephippium. (Coin of Labienus.)
), but they were used in pomps. Their development may be seen by a
comparison of the examples appearing on the columns of Trajan, Antoninus, and Theodosius. On
the first and second, and in the equestrian statue of M. Aurelius, are to be seen cloths
alone, and pads filling up the hollow of the horse's back with and without cloths. It is only
on the Theodosian Column that the true saddle, with a bow behind and before, appears for the
first time. The new name sella
now emphasizes the new fashion.