Mountain artillery pack saddle



The mountain guns and their carriages, as well as their ammunition, forges, and tool chests were usually carried on pack-mules or pack-horses. Only exceptionally, when the roads were good, they could be drawn by horses or mules harnessed to them or carried in common carts. For this reason some models of mountain guns, like the famous Skoda 75mm M. 1915 and many Rheinmethall mountain guns, were equipped with small limbers. The pack saddles were used for securing the barrel of the mountain guns for transportation by horse or mule. They had special hitches and rings to secure the load.

Depending on the strength of the animal and the nature of the load, the total weight that could be carried by a mule of French breeds varied between 150 and 180 kg. Having given the weight of the regulation furniture, about 110 kg was left for the useful weight. Consequently it was of the greatest importance to have light furniture that did not, however, injure the animal. Indeed if the saddle was too small or too short it rocked under a top load, and was much harder on the mule than a full-sized saddle.

The regulation French pack saddle was strong, easily repaired and caused few sores, but its weight was too heavy in comparison with others, that were of equally good quality, like the Bulgarian ones. To the weight of the pack saddle it is necessary to add the weight of the harness that amounted approximately to 9 kg.


At first, in 1880s, the pack saddles used by the Bulgarian artillery were copied from the Swiss ones, since Switzerland was regarded as the country with the greatest experience in mountain warfare, and moreover had adopted a 75mm Krupp mountain gun similar to the Bulgarian one. However they were made unskilfully, even because they were manufactured in lands where there was not only any mountain artillery, but also common loading. When loaded, the pack saddles touched the animal in two points and during the march the cradle was so instable, that in short time the animal was injured. This happened also when the saddles were unloaded, and the animals travelled on nearly flat ground. Therefore it was proposed to adopt the Russian harness, which weighted 16-18 kg and seemed more practical.

In 1912-18 the Bulgarian Army used different patterns of pack saddles, which were lighter than those employed by the major European armies. The problem was that the Bulgarian mountain artillery usually employed native ponies that were less strong than the mules employed elsewhere. Mules indeed were not much used in Bulgaria, since they were regarded as vicious and troublesome, and donkeys were largely employed only for carrying light loads.

Before World War I, many attempts were made to construct an universal saddle, so that any portion of the equipment could be loaded on any mule. But this ideal was very difficult to realize, owing to the varied shape of the loads, and the result was usually a saddle which failed to carry any load to the satisfaction of the animal beneath it.




Weight of different pack saddles

French artillery pack saddle

35 kg

British artillery pack saddle

29.5 kg

Universal pack saddle 

33 kg

Krupp pack saddle

27 kg

Rheinmetall pack saddle

25 kg

Schneider pack saddle

30 kg

Schneider pack saddle, Greek Army model

26 kg

Hotchkiss pack saddle

29 kg

Tisserand pack saddle

23 kg

Lefebvre pack saddle for St. Chamond mountain guns

20 kg

Bulgarian wooden pack saddle

20 kg

Austrian metal pack saddle, Scholler system, used by the Bulgarian Army

22 kg

Austrian pack saddle for Skoda mountain guns

22 kg

Macedonian wooden pack saddle for ponies

11 kg




Loads of the Krupp 75mm Kanone L/14

gun and accessories

rear carriage and shaft

front carriage and shield


cradle and wheels

field forge

firing tools


This gun was very similar to the Krupp mountain gun adopted by the Bulgarian Army in 1904.