The Long Riders' Guild

Genghis Khan's Saddle Pad

In an ironic twist of fate, The Long Riders’ Guild has uncovered “lost” equestrian evidence which indicates that Central Asian horsemen have successfully used a loosely coiled saddle pad for at least eight centuries.


Thanks to the discoveries made by two modern equestrian explorers, The Long Riders’ Guild can confirm that the mounted masters who roamed from Mongolia to Siberia used horse hair to weave a saddle pad that does all the things being claimed by the companies questioned in this report.


The various merchandisers who are currently marketing the 3M Wet Area Matting 1500 as a legitimate equestrian product maintain that the synthetic, chemical-based compound used to create the abrasive locker room floor mat keeps the saddle pad dry by dissipating the heat generated by an active horse.


According to Swedish Long Rider Mikael Strandberg, and Australian Tim Cope, Genghis Khan’s equestrian warriors put the same principles of equine heat reduction into effect nearly one thousand years ago.


Yet unlike their modern corporate counterparts, these fabled nomadic horsemen used the all-natural hair gathered from their horse’s tails to weave a loose saddle pad which provides excellent heat distribution and sweat control.


It was Sweden’s famous explorer, Long Rider Mikael Strandberg, who sent in the first report regarding the ancient origins of this remarkable piece of equestrian equipment.


Mikael spent the winter of 2004-2005 making a record-breaking crossing of the frozen Siberian landscape. Upon arriving at the village of Nalimsk the adventurous Swede discovered one of the world’s most remote equestrian cultures. Despite the deadly temperatures, the hardy local Yakut tribal horsemen could be seen happily cantering their white horses across the snowy landscape in minus forty degree weather !


Upon arriving in Siberia, Swedish Long Rider Mikael Strandberg discovered 4,000 thousand hardy Yakut horses roaming the frozen tundra. This photo shows Vasili, one of the Yakut horsemen, riding in minus forty degree weather. Following in the traditions of their forefathers, these incredible equestrians use a saddle pad made from woven horse hair. To learn more about Mikael’s equestrian discoveries click here.
Click on image to enlarge it.


Among his many observations, Mikael sent in the first modern notation of a saddle pad idea which is very much in the news today.


“The [Yakut] saddle blanket is a work of art. It is made from tangled hairs from the horsetail and it is thick and very comfortable,” Mikael reported to The Long Riders’ Guild via an email from Siberia.


Yet due to extreme temperatures, and a pressing need to continue his perilous journey across Siberia, Mikael was unable to procure any detailed information regarding the origins or construction of this remarkable saddle pad.


In a final paradox it was Australian adventurer Tim Cope, whose horses had been severely injured by the fraudulent modern “cool breeze” style pad, who stumbled across the missing pieces of this equestrian mystery.


As he retraced the route of Genghis Khan’s mounted warriors on an 8,000 mile solo equestrian journey from Mongolia to Hungary, Tim heard tales of a remarkable native saddle pad. Yet it wasn’t until the young Australian reached Atrau, Kazakhstan that he finally found not just the pad but a mounted nomad who made them !


“There is a local herder here who has told me all about the saddle pad The Guild is looking for. It is called a terlik and my host learned how to make it from his father. The Kazakhs, who travel great distances across the steppes where water and pasture are even harder to find than in Mongolia, say the terlik is the very best kind of pad you can put on a horse’s back,” Tim reported to The Guild in an email.


“The terlik is made at the beginning of winter when the horses no longer need  their long tails to swish away insects. The Kazakh nomad trims the mane and tail hair from three of his horses. This provides him with enough material to make one saddle pad. Because of the loose weave the hair blanket lets water drain away almost immediately from the horse’s back. The terlik is soft, durable and gives a nomad at least two years of constant use,” Tim said.


The original “no sweat pad” was invented at least 800 years ago by Genghis Khan’s mounted warriors and is still in use by the descendants of these fabled horsemen. Known as the terlik, it is constructed from natural horse hair, is incredibly resilient and provides excellent protection to a horse’s back, even in the harsh climates of Siberia and Mongolia. This image shows a Kazakh nomad holding a terlik (right) alongside his up-turned light weight saddle. To learn more about Tim Cope’s amazing solo ride from Mongolia to Hungary click here.
Click on image to enlarge it.


Sadly in terms of The Long Riders’ Guild’s research, the Kazakh horseman was unwilling to part with his precious terlik. However he did allow Tim to photograph this historical piece of equestrian equipment. The Long Riders’ Guild is currently attempting to procure a terlik for study via our many diplomatic and equestrian contacts in Central Asia.


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