The Butteri of Tuscany, like many working horsemen around Europe,have their own unique tack suited for working the flat marshes of Maremma.
La sella alla buttera,also known as the sella col pallino is an old working saddle that closely resembles Iberian working saddles. Spanish viceroys ruled the Kingdom of Naples during the 16th century and had control of parts of Maremma including Orbetello, Talamone, Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano. The sella alla buttera was most probably introduced around that time to the horsemen of the area.
The Bardella saddle is a larger working saddle based on the renaissance classical style. Today it is most commonly seen in Lazio (Tuscans prefer the scarfada). The name comes from the Arabic word “bardaah” which means without a saddle. The large panels are made from a canvas or hemp sack filled with horse hair, wool and pressed straw. The seat is very deep, and promotes a firm, classical position. The bardella da doma or “bardellone” is an even wider and deeper version of this saddle utilized for breaking in semi wild Maremmani horses.
The Scarfada is the most commonly used saddle in Tuscany. This saddle is based on the Italian cavalry saddles utilized in the first and second world wars. The saddle was modified between 1900 and 1950, but the basic form and fit of the saddle is the same as those used in the great wars of Europe.
This deep and padded saddle was once utilized in the Italian cavalry complete with a breast plate and crupper.In the front, the saddle has thick, padded knee rolls. The height of the pommel and cantle of the saddle ensure that the rider is held securely even when he is riding a difficult horse. This saddle is well padded underneath with horse hair which molds softly to the horses back.Many Butteri will not use saddle pads – though modern riders often place a light woolen blanket underneath to soak up excess sweat. The shape of the saddle allows for air to circulate around the horses back. Modern day endurance saddles have a similar shape as these saddles must distribute the weight over a large weight-bearing surface (the panels) without putting undue pressure on sensitive areas. These are working saddle – and therefore designed for long days of hard work. This design effectively prevents saddle sores which could damage a valuable stock horse. This saddle is very heavy (17kg average) and the horse hair padding may take some time to settle down and mold to the shape of the horse and rider. Once set, they are comfortable saddles and perfect for long distance riding and working cattle.
Recent years have seen a change in saddles from functional to fashionable – but the Buttero Scafarda and Baredella saddles have stayed true to their original purpose. They are work saddles through and through.