BY BOB NOLAN


The saddle pattern is found in a number of breeds of pigeons such as Turbits, Chinese Owls, Fantails and Racing Homers to cite just a few. Until recently it was not present in English Trumpeters. In 1976, I produced, quite by chance, from a pair of black baldheads, a black saddle hen #2393. This bird was not perfectly marked having some colored feathers in her tail and some white in the wing shield Coming from a nice pair of black baldheads she possessed good English Trumpeter type. In fact as late as 1980 she won Best Genetic bird at the Pageant of Pigeons. So the quality of the saddles from the beginning of the project has been higher than say the braless, almonds or white bars. The previously mentioned colors had the handicap of coming from another breed and were crossed into English Trumpeters.

The saddles are not 100% pure English Trumpeter blood now however as 1 needed a mate for 2393. After talking with Swallow breeder Arnold Chancy of Escondido, Calif., who was attempting a similar project, he suggested 1 use a cross breed cock that he had.

1 took one look at this bird and had my doubts how this bird could possible help. First of all the bird was 950/o white with only one dark red patch of feathers on his shoulders. His muffs were only average, body rather long and thin and narrow. The one real plus factor was that it had a good size skull and crest formation. Now an explanation of this cock's background will make the reader understand his appearance better. On one parent's side was a pure double crested white barred Shield. For those unfamiliar with what a Saxon Shield looks like a few lines of description may prove helpful. The Saxon Shield as the name implies is a German field pigeon and is all white with the exception of the wing shield which is colored. The word saddle and shield refer to the same marking thus being synonyms they will be used interchangeably in this article. The Saxon Shield is a rather small pigeon comparable to a Swallow, the tuft is flat, the muffs are around 3 inches long. The crest is circular but not high or full. The temperament is on the flightily side. On the other side of the pedigree was a half breed from an English Trumpeter x Bokhara Trumpeter cross. No doubt the head power had come from this blood.

Arnold Chancy assured me the cock he recommended had indeed produced saddles for him. If it hadn't been for this assurance, by Arnold, 1 would have not tried mating the two.

The first year 1 produced a very poor type but nicely marked mealy saddle in the very first nest. Unfortunately it died. In the next nest was a nearly perfect marked black saddle with long muffs and superior type to his father, but not as short and cobby as his mother. This bird band #102 remains the best saddle cock 1 have produced. The rest of the young produced that first year were so poorly marked they were culled.

With the beautifully marked #102 to show for the season 1 was ready to face 1979 with great expectations. 1 mated #102 back to his mother #2393 and thought 1 would have the markings set. 1 invisioned large numbers of saddles coming off the assembly line with clock-like regularity.

To my dismay, no such good fortune was to be my destiny. Rather birds resembling poor baldheads or white self's and mismarked blacks, crowded my weaning pen. By the summer 1 still had nothing to show for my season's work. Then in the very last nest, was that one special bird that we all strive for .... #505. She is the best marked and highest quality saddle in existence. A pure white tail and tump, a perfect wing shield and good English Trumpeter type. She has won 1st in genetic class competition wherever shown. In fact, she was the champion genetic bird at the 1982 Pageant.

In 1981, 1 mated #505 to her father 102, who is also her half brother. Once

again 1 was hoping to set the saddle marking and produce more saddles. To my extreme disappointment only one useable bird, a black saddle with a partially colored tail was produced. This bird #616 is a useable show bird and hopefully will produce saddles. But his quality is less than either parent. So 1981 was not a step for- ward.

Stopped in my attempts at setting the markings for the past two seasons, 1 went to my extensive pigeon library and finally to my complete collection of American Pigeon Journals seeking help from writers of the past who had worked with the saddle marking in other breeds.

Noting that Fantail breeders of the past used white selfs I decided to try crossing my saddles in 1982 onto whites. Considering the low percentage of saddles 1 was getting from my other matings of past years, I feel 1 have little to lose and also 1 will be able to deter- mine if using white self's as crosses is the way to go. After a season of work from this angle 1 am not encouraged as neither quality or markings was improved. So in 1983. 1 am going back to line breeding the original family and hopefully will come up with some more saddles.

Several people have expressed interest in my saddles but so far I can only offer mismarked birds as a start. This has discouraged many from star- ting the project. However, with a little luck 1 may have a break through and have enough birds to share with others who wish to start. The saddle English Trumpeter is definitely a challenge of the 1980s. Look for them in the shows and see how well we do in meeting this challenge.


**APJ MAY 1983