In FotR I, ch. XII, Glorfindel mentions his saddle:

'You shall ride my horse,' said Glorfindel. 'I will shorten the stirrups up to the saddle-skins, and you must sit as tight as you can.

Later in the novel, it is said at least twice that I have found with a quick ctrl + F that the Elves ride bareback, including when Gandalf calls it "elf-fashion" (bk. III, Ch. XI).
Why, then, does Glorfindel use a saddle?

  • 6
    "The Noldor in Beleriand also used saddles. Curufin is noted as a strong and cunning horseman as he lifts Luthien to his saddle. A saddle provides a much more secure seat for anyone involved in fighting for horseback. It could be explained that Elves who were contemplating that type of activity would use saddles." - forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=1444
    – Valorum
    Feb 18 at 19:43
  • 2
    Also, Glorfindel may simply have thought ahead and realized that a saddle might be needed for a non-Elf. Feb 18 at 19:45
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    "But actually bridle was casually and carelessly used for what I suppose should have been called a headstall.1 Or rather, since bit was added (1221) long ago (Chapter 112 was written very early) I had not considered the natural ways of elves with animals. Glorfindel's horse would have an ornamental headstall, carrying a plume, and with the straps studded with jewels and small bells; but Glor. would certainly not use a bit. I will change bridle and bit to headstall. - Tolkien / Letters
    – Valorum
    Feb 18 at 19:46
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    Maybe Noldor specifically use saddles? Their culture always seemed quite different from the other elven races.
    – Amarth
    Feb 18 at 20:43
  • 4
    He was sent out specifically by Elrond to look for the party, and as such would likely have carried some supplies and possibly some additional weapons, and that's a lot easier with something to attach them to than trying to carry everything while riding bareback. Feb 18 at 20:45


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