Thursday, September 20, 2012

Miss Mary V Fisher

Presently on Ebay, there is a very nice side saddle for sale.  Listing Here.

This auction was posted on Facebook by Leila, and Nick Creaton identifies the saddle as a Whippy Ladies Show Saddle No 5. First marketed in the 1920's.

Picture from Ebay listing for posterity

The first thing you will note about this saddle, besides that it is in lovely condition, is the very pared down off side flap.  This identifies it a show saddle specifically designed to minimise the saddle's profile on the horse.  Looks like you would have to be careful about what type of saddle rack you put it on.

Picture from Ebay listing for posterity

Actually, the first thing I noticed about the listing is that this saddle was owned by Miss Mary V Fisher of Dixiana Farms.  And that, to a student of American Saddlebred history, is the most fascinating part.

Mary Fisher was the daughter of Charles T and Sarah Fisher. Charles Fisher was one of the owners of Fisher Body, a Detroit car body builder
In 1928, when Mary was 15, he purchased the Lexington Thoroughbred breeding farm Dixiana.  Besides becoming influential in horse racing, Miss Mary, like many socialites of the day, bred, rode and showed American Saddle Horses.

From Famous American Saddle Horses Vol III by Susanne

In fact, she excelled at it.  In 1936, she was the first woman rider to win a Championship Stake class at the World Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair.  She won the 3-Gaited Horse over 15.2 on a horse called Royal Irish.  I believe she repeated this in 1937 or 1938.  There would not be another woman to win such a prestigious open class until Jean McLean Davis won the 3-Gaited World's Grand Championship in 1989 aboard Gimcrack.  Mary Fisher was the first saddle horse rider inducted into the National Horse Show Hall of Fame in 1986.

Miss Mary Fisher aboard Royal Irish painting by George Ford Morris

Miss Fisher was very active showing Saddle Horses in the 1930s and into the 1940s.  Eventually she became more focused on Thoroughbred racing.  I am pleased that one of her saddles has been so well preserved and retains it's identity. 

And, because I just love 1920s illustration art, below are a few fun 1920s Body by Fisher ads for her father's company.  The company continued into the 1980s when it was absorbed into General Motors.

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