Definitions

saddle

saddle

[sad-l]
saddle, seat or pad to support the rider on an animal, chiefly a horse. The saddles mentioned in the Bible are generally considered to have been saddlecloths. The ancient Greeks sometimes used saddlecloths, but they had no saddles and often rode bareback. The Romans did not use a saddle until near the end of the empire. The Native Americans of the Great Plains of North America were famous horsemen, and usually rode without saddles. To riders accustomed to the saddle, however, its advantages are decisive. Probably it was developed either in France during the early Christian era or in the steppe region of Asia. In Europe the saddle came into general use in the Middle Ages. The exploits of medieval knights would have been difficult without the saddle. Saddles of various types include the packsaddle, to which the load of a pack animal is secured; the camel saddle; the howdah, used by riders of elephants; and the saddle used by riders of horses. There are two main types of horse saddles, the Hungarian and the Moorish. The Moorish saddle, which was used extensively by cowboys in the United States, has a horn which is essential in using the lasso. To hold it in place under the strain of the lasso, this saddle has two strong girths, each tightened by a cinch strap. The Hungarian saddle, of which the English saddle is an example, the McClellan saddle, and the racing saddle have no horns. The English saddle has padding, and the stirrup is hung farther forward than on the Moorish saddle or the McClellan saddle, neither of which is padded. For constant use, the hard saddle is believed in North America to be better for both the horse and the rider. The padded saddle has advantages in brief and occasional rides. See also equestrianism; stirrup.

Seat for a rider on the back of an animal, usually a horse. The leather saddle was developed between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD, probably by peoples of the Asian steppes, where the stirrup and the horse collar also originated. The saddle greatly improved a rider's ability to control a moving horse, especially in combat. Improvements made in medieval Europe were related to feudal battles among knights. Modern saddles are mainly divided into two types: the light, flat English or Hungarian style used for sport and recreation, and the sturdy Western style used originally for cattle roping and now also for recreation.

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The Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) is a large wading bird in the stork family, Ciconiidae. It is a widespread species which is a resident breeder in sub-Saharan Africa from Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya south to South Africa, and in The Gambia, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Chad in west Africa.

This is a close relative of the widespread Asian Black-necked Stork, the only other member of the genus Ephippiorhynchus.

Characteristics

The Saddle-billed Stork breeds in marshes and other wetlands in tropical lowland. It builds a large, deep stick nest in a tree, laying one or two white eggs weighing about 146g each. It does not form breeding colonies, and is usually found alone or in pairs. The incubation period is 30-35 days, with another 70 - 100 days before the chicks fledge.

This is a huge bird that regularly attains a height of 150 cm (5 feet) and a 270cm (9 feet) wingspan. The male is larger and heavier than the female, with a range of 5.1-7.5 kg, the female is usually between 5 and 6.9 kg. It is probably the tallest, if not the heaviest, of the storks. Females are distinctly smaller than the males. It is spectacularly plumaged. The head, neck, back, wings, and tail are iridescent black, with the rest of the body and the primary flight feathers being white. The massive bill is red with a black band and a yellow frontal shield (the “saddle”). The legs and feet are black with pink knees. Sexes are identically plumaged except that the female has a golden yellow iris, while the male's is brown. Juveniles are browner grey in plumage.

They are silent except for bill-clattering at the nest. Like most storks, these fly with the neck outstretched, not retracted like a heron; in flight, the large heavy bill is kept drooping somewhat below belly height, giving these birds a very unusual appearance to those who see them for the first time (see here for photo). To experienced birdwatchers on the other hand, this makes them easily recognizable even if seen from a distance. It has been suggested that due to the large size and unusual appearance in flight, this species is the basis for the "Big Bird" and Kongamato cryptids.

The Saddle-billed Stork, like most of its relatives, feeds mainly on fish, frogs and crabs, but also on young birds, and other land vertebrates. They move in a deliberate and stately manner as they hunt, in a similar way to the larger herons.

Relation to Ancient Egyptian culture

This bird is represented in an Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph (Gardiner G29) that had the phonetic value "ba": G29 Its description is often erroneously given as "jabiru", which is actually this species' Latin American relative. The Third Dynasty pharaoh Khaba incorporated this hieroglyph in his name (Jiménez Serrano 2002).

References

  • Barlow, Clive (1997): A field guide to birds of the Gambia and Senegal. Pica Press, Nr. Robertsbridge (East Sussex). ISBN 1-873403-32-1
  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Jiménez Serrano, Alejandro (2002): Royal Festivals in the Late Predynastic Period and the First Dynasty. British Archaeological Reports (International Series) 1076. ISBN 1-84171-455-0

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